In an exclusive chat with Liverpoolfc.tv, the man Gerard Houllier once dubbed the 'new' Zinedine Zidane tells us what kind of proposition Lille will pose Rafael Benitez's men in tonight's Europa League clash.
Bruno Cheyrou enjoyed what he describes as the five best years of his career at the Stadium Lille-Metropole and reckons the Reds could be in for a real test as they bid to take a major step towards the quarter-finals..
He also identifies who he rates as Les Dogues' main threat, how he is adapting to a new life in Cyprus and what he REALLY thinks about those Zizou comparisons.
Well Bruno, two of your former clubs go head-to-head in the Europa League on Thursday night - who will you be rooting for?
That's a difficult question. I just want to watch a good game of football and hope the best team wins. I have to admit I don't really mind who wins because I played five years at Lille and two years at Liverpool. They are both important clubs for me, so I don't want to pick one over the other. I'm not sure if the game is live on TV, but if I have the chance to watch it, I certainly will.
What can you tell us about Lille?
They are doing well at the moment and are currently in fifth position in the league. They have a number of small players who are quite fast. I don't know if you are aware of a Belgian player called Eden Hazard, but he's a huge young talent. I think he is only about 19 years old. He is the reigning Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year. I think it is only a matter of time until he is playing in one of the best teams in Europe because he is one of the finest young talents around.
What kind of atmosphere can Liverpool expect at the Stadium Lille-Metropole?
I read recently that it will be a full house and that tickets for the match sold out really fast. I expect there to be a good atmosphere, but it's not like your typical English stadium because there is an athletics track around the perimeter of the pitch. Liverpool have probably played in bigger stadiums over the years but the quality of the pitch is unbelievable. I think it is the best playing surface in France.
That'll please Rafa and his coaching staff. Given Liverpool's recent run of good form, doyou expect them to come through the tie?
I think the fact the second game is at Anfield offers Liverpool a big advantage. But if Lille are searching for signs of hope, then they must only look at this season's Champions League when Lyon beat Liverpool 2-1 on Merseyside. I'm sure they will have watched that game and it will be a good example for Lille to follow. I don't think it will be an easy tie for the Reds and I expect it to be really tight.
If the Reds do progress to the last eight, how far do you think they will go in the competition?
There's no doubt they can win the trophy. They are probably the best team in the Europa League, but each round will be difficult. If they get past Lille then I'm sure the next round will provide them with another tough test. I think the Europa League is very important to Liverpool now because they aren't challenging for the title and are out of both domestic cups.
Aside from Europe, the Reds are currently in a battle to finish in the top four - who do you think will finish fourth?
I hope Liverpool get fourth because you don't need me to tell you how important it is for them to be playing Champions League football next season. I think the race for fourth is really open with Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City all in the hunt. Liverpool need to go on a winning run between now and the end of the season to do it. I think the fact Fernando Torres is back and the experience they have of dealing with pressure situations at the end of the season means it will make it easier for them to do it. If Torres can keep scoring goals from now until May, then I think they will finish in the top four.
Let's move on to your career. You now play for Anorthosis Famagusta - why move to Cyprus?
In the last two years Anorthosis Famagusta and Apoel Nicosia have qualified for the Champions League group stage, so I think that shows that football in Cyprus is getting better and better. The prospect of playing in the biggest competition there is was the main reason I decided to move here. I'm enjoying my football here and that's important. The weather is good and the standard is improving all the time. I hope we can cap a good season with the title so that we are in the Champions League again next season. I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the atmosphere here. The fans are really crazy about football.
Famagusta are your sixth club - is it fair to say your time at Lille was the most successful of your career to-date?
Yes. My time at Lille was very special. We had a wonderful adventure in the Champions League and on the domestic scene in France too. After that I moved to Liverpool and it was a difficult time for me. I wanted to make an immediate impression because it is such a big club, but I think I was a bit unlucky with injuries. It didn't work out, but after that I had a good season with Bordeaux when we finished second in the league. That was a good memory for me.
It may not have gone to script at Anfield, but what would you say was the high point of your time with Liverpool?
Well that's simple. My goal against Chelsea when we won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge and the two goals I scored in the FA Cup against Newcastle. It's a shame there weren't a few more.
Do you think Gerrard Houllier's comparisons of you and Zinedine Zidane put added pressure on your shoulders?
I think it was a big mistake. It's easier for me to talk about it now because it was some years ago, but comparing me with Zinedine Zidane was wrong. There is only one Zidane. All the fans were expecting me to go beating people and dominating the game like Zidane used to - and let's face it, I wasn't Zinedine Zidane! But then again, not many players could claim to be on his level. I think it was too heavy for me. It's not a good idea to liken new players to other ones because it puts too much pressure on their shoulders. It doesn't help the player.
Another Frenchman looking to make the grade at Anfield is your compatriot, David Ngog. What have you made of his contribution to Liverpool's season?
He has played more games than he would have expected because of the injuries to Torres and I think he has done well. He has scored some goals and done a good job when called upon. It's difficult to come in and have to take the position of Fernando, who is one of the best strikers in the world. He is still young and will continue to improve. I'm sure he'll be a very good player for Liverpool in the years ahead.
Do you still keep in touch with anyone at Liverpool?
No, but I am still a Liverpool fan and will remain one for as long as I live. Once I retire from playing I will have more time and will come back to visit. I love Anfield but maybe the new stadium will have been built by then. That would be fantastic to go and watch a match there. I think it would be nice to enjoy a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone again.
That seems like a fitting answer to end the interview, but we can't let you go without getting your score prediction for the match on Thursday?
I think Lille might edge the first leg 2-1, but Liverpool will win the second-leg by a bigger margin, something like 3-1. I think Liverpool will go through but it won't be as easy as some people may think.