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Garcia plays it cool after opening win

12 August 2012 13:45

Lille coach Rudi Garcia says it will take time for his players to produce their best form after beating Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

A last-minute goal from Benoit Pedretti saw 2010/11 champions Lille overcome their hosts in the opening round of the Ligue 1 season at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

The fixture also marked the debut of star signing Salomon Kalou, who joined the club from Chelsea in July.

"Some players did very well and some still need more games to be at their best," Garcia said.

"But we played in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard and winning in front of the toughest crowds in France is never easy, so I feel that a victory here is a great result.

"It is true to say that over the past few seasons Lille have done well. And it just shows the quality of the different groups of players that we've had at the club."

Garcia withdrew reported Newcastle target Mathieu Debuchy with 11 minutes remaining, but said the substation had nothing to do with the fullback's apparent desire to leave the club.

"I asked my staff to watch over Mathieu as he hadn't played 90 minutes since the start of the season," he said.

"It made sense to replace him and preserve him as he will face many crucial matches coming up, starting with one for the French national team, who will play 48 hours before the unveiling of our new stadium, our first game in the "Grand Stade".

Lille lost star man Eden Hazard to Chelsea in the close season, while loanee Joe Cole has also returned to parent club Liverpool.

Nevertheless, Garcia is pleased to have retained the majority of the squad which took the club to the Ligue 1 title two seasons ago.

"I am happy to have kept most of my players from last season," he said.

"Of course, there were one or two departures that we had already planned but we did prepare for that (a) long time ago and that was important.

"Tonight we proved that we can do well with this new group and that there is some quality in this team.

"Now, we must prove that we can reproduce the kind of form we showed tonight, starting Friday against Nancy and then, at the same time, in the Champions League and in the league."

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Friday 11 July

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Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
5 0 +0 0
6 0 +0 0
7 0 +0 0
8 0 +0 0
9 0 +0 0

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