CHICAGO – Lyon coach Remi Garde has called on his players to maintain the team spirit shown in reaching the Champions League group phase when Ligue 1 leader Montpellier arrives the Stade Gerland this weekend.
Les Gones advanced to the group phase of Europe's premier club competition for the 12th straight season as a 1-1 draw in Russia on Wednesday night gave it a 4-2 aggregate play-off win over Rubin Kazan.
Garde's side returns its focus to domestic matters on Saturday for the visit of Montpellier - the only team in the league with a 100% record from their first three games - and will do so on a high.
"This qualification is very beautiful because we suffered," said the coach.
"We stuck together well after the first goal. I was very scared but the equaliser from Bako [Bakari Kone] helped us a lot.
"I am very proud of the players. We all pulled together to organise this.
"We must instil team spirit and keep it.
"Saturday will be complicated because we meet the league leaders. In terms of recovery from this game and preparation for Montpellier, it is not straightforward.
"We will ask the players for one last effort before the international break."
Another big match this weekend sees champion Lille travel to the Stade Velodrome on Sunday night to take on a Marseille side who has drawn all three league games to date.
LOSC has itself picked up only four points from their three games so far having sold midfielder Yohan Cabaye and forward Gervinho over the summer, but OM midfielder Charles Kabore will be wary of Sunday's visitors.
"They lost two or three players, not six or seven," said Kabore, whose side edged Lille 5-4 in a thrilling Trophee des Champions encounter last month.
"There are players who have other qualities. It is a team to be respected - it's still Lille.
"They create chances and can make a difference at any time.
"There have quality players there - [Dimitri] Payet, [Moussa] Sow... They were champions last season because they have quality."
The three French teams in Europa League play-off action this evening - Paris St Germain, Rennes and Sochaux - resume league action on Sunday.
PSG - who face Differdange of Luxembourg at the Parc des Princes tonight - visit a Toulouse side who will be missing Pavle Ninkov, Cheikh M'Bengue and Etienne Didot through injury.
Rennes host Red Star Belgrade tonight before taking on Caen on Sunday, while Sochaux - at home to Metalist Kharkiv tonight - face St Etienne in Montbeliard.
Elsewhere, Bordeaux defender Marc Planus is in line to make his first appearance of the season following a groin problem when the winless Girondins visit second-bottom Valenciennes on Saturday.
In other games on Saturday, Lorient faces Nancy, Nice tackles Brest, Auxerre plays promoted Ajaccio and unbeaten Evian hosts fellow top-flight newcomer Dijon.