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Blues must beat fear factor to see off focused Stade

There are just the slightest indicators of fear in the Leinster camp.

They won a game they could have, even should have, lost against Glasgow last Saturday.

They have had just six days to recover and reboot. And they have had personnel problems. Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy are out.


Stade Francais have been idle for two weeks, resting their first team against Biarritz in the French Top 14 and taking their week off to plan the execution of a raid on Dublin with the same 15 that did the business at Bath and Perpignan.

They have had the time. They have some of the players. And they have only one way back into the Heineken Cup with big signings on their way to the club for next season.

Their road to glory seems obvious on the grounds of one simple fact.

Stade are the only club in Europe with over 90pc success rate at the scrum (94pc) and lineout (93pc).

They are set-piece motivated with Italy's Sergio Parisse and Pierre Rabadan the main dangermen in the air, powering off the base of the scrum, in contact or roaming the open spaces.

The strength in depth of this competition can be measured by the fact that Leinster are the only Heineken 'drop-down' quarter-finalist to make it this far.

The French were aggrieved at how they let this final slip 18-17 to Harlequins in 2011. You could see it on the face of their then seething coach Michael Cheika.

Leinster bid to become the fourth club to win both European prizes and the first to seize on four European trophies in five years.

Verdict: Leinster.

Leinster: R Kearney; A Conway, F McFadden, I Madigan, I Nacewa; J Sexton, I Boss; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Ross, Q Roux, D Toner, R Ruddock, S O'Brien, J Heaslip (capt).

Stade Francais: J Porical; J Sinzelle, G Doumayrou, P Williams, H Bonneval; J Plisson, J Dupuy; A De Malmanche, L Sempere, R Slimani, S Lavalla, G Mostert, D Lyons, P Rabadan, S Parisse (capt).