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Montpellier honour-bound to challenge Schalke

Monday 3 December 2012 19.17 CET
Montpellier gained their sole Group B point in the reverse fixture

As the curtain falls on Montpellier Hérault SC's debut UEFA Champions League campaign, coach René Girard is determined to go out on a high against FC Schalke 04. The French club earned their only point in Group B in the matchday two encounter with Huub Stevens' charges, and – mindful that his team will top the section with a win – the Dutchman is not taking Montpellier lightly.

Schalke are through and will win the group if they get three points in France or if Arsenal FC are denied victory at Olympiacos CF due to their head-to-head superiority over the English club.

Montpellier are out of Europe.

René Girard, coach
There is nothing at stake for us, but it is a Champions League game and we must play it. We want to keep on working and be serious. We were good over there [drawing 2-2] and if we can win here it would be good.

I am frustrated because I know that it is only small things that have let us down. I have big regrets and leaving this competition with a defeat would be disappointing. We could have done better, but this is still a big game. The most important thing at stake is our honour.

Weekend result
Saturday: Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 Montpellier (Gomis 26)
Ligali; El Kaoutari, Yanga-Mbiwa, Hilton, Estrada; Pitau (Stambouli 55), Belhanda; Camara, Charbonnier (Herrera 55), Utaka (Cabella 70).

• Third-choice goalkeeper Jonathan Ligali, 21, made his first-team debut after injuries ruled out Geoffrey Jourdren and Laurent Pionnier. Souleymane Camara came closest to an equaliser, rattling the woodwork with 19 minutes to go, but could not prevent a defeat that leaves Montpellier with just two wins from their last eight games.

Team news
Ligali could be Montpellier's only goalkeeping option once more. Jourdren (rib) is undergoing fitness tests, while his understudy, Laurent Pionnier (thigh), is definitely out. Forward Karim Aït-Fana (knee) is a long-term absentee.

SchalkeHuub Stevens, coach
My priority is to keep the lead in this group. We will see how the players are in training and I will make my choices tomorrow. In the knockout round there are no weak teams, but by finishing first we might avoid some of the bigger ones.

We are here to win the game and the group. Things would be a bit different if we had to win to qualify, so I think that we will be a little bit more relaxed but still focused. Montpellier play good football. French football is usually quite skilful. Montpellier have less experience than the other teams in this group, but they showed in our first meeting that they are a quality team.

Weekend result
Saturday: Schalke 1-1 VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (Draxler 85; De Camargo 62)
Hildebrand; Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Fuchs; Jones, Neustädter; Farfán, Holtby (Pukki 70), Draxler; Huntelaar (Marica 71).

• Julian Draxler's goal five minutes from time earned Schalke a draw, a result that leaves the Gelsenkirchen outfit without a league win in four attempts – their worst run since April/May 2011.

Team news
Marco Höger (sprained ankle), Ibrahim Afellay (thigh) and Christoph Metzelder (adductor) have all been sidelined.

Match fact
• Schalke have lost both their away games against French opponents. They went down 3-1 at AS Nancy-Lorraine in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup first round and 1-0 at Olympique Lyonnais in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage.

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