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Girard pays tribute to Giroud
Published : 17 Sep 2012 20:40:00
Rene Girard maintains Montpellier will always be grateful to Olivier Giroud for the part he played in getting them to the Champions League.
The France international finished joint top-scorer in Ligue 1 last season as Montpellier won the title for the first time in the club's history.
However, the 25-year-old moved to Arsenal in the summer in a £12million deal rather than try to spearhead Montpellier's maiden shot at Europe's elite competition.
Giroud accepts he may be in for a hot reception from some home fans when he returns to Stade de la Mosson tomorrow night.
The Montpellier manager, however, hopes the supporters will remember what Giroud has done for them, before focussing on lifting his side as they aim to recover from a poor start to the domestic season.
Girard said: "Olivier Giroud only left good memories here.
"He was a very loyal player and man, who did very well for us last season to help win the title.
"I think the fans will welcome him very warmly, but not too much, maybe with just a little 'hi' and a wave."
Montpellier captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa remains close with his former team-mate, and shared a joke while away during the recent international break.
"We talked about the game together and a bit about his drought in England," the defender said.
"He managed to do pretty well last season, and sometime you need time to adapt.
"However, I told him it will not be easy against us - and also that he will not score here in Montpellier."
Yanga-Mbiwa sees no reason why the hosts should not be confident of a positive result against the Gunners, who are experienced European campaigners.
"The players are all really looking forward to testing ourselves in the Champions League - it is a dream come true to be at this level," he said.
"We need to be ready and are at home, so why cant we win the first game?"
Girard remains positive heading into a first Champions League tie.
"We have to be aware of the difficulties we have had, but it's not by crying but by working that we'll get out of trouble," he added.
"Many of the players haven't been in this competition before. It's a way for the club and the players to grow.
"It's very intense and amazing to be among the 32 best teams in the continent in this tournament.
"We created a surprise by winning the title and perhaps we can cause another surprise by winning the Champions League.
"Many people are wondering how many goals we're going to concede, but events on the pitch will tell."