The pre-tournament favourites Stade Francais must win to keep their hopes of qualification alive against a much-improved Bristol side.

Stade have struggled away from home in the competition this season and are languishing three points behind both Cardiff Blues and Bristol.

But the two-time finalists Stade have only ever lost one Heineken Cup home match, losing to Munster 14-16 in 2003.

Bristol caused a major shock when they thumped Stade 17-0 at the Memorial Ground in November but don’t expect a repeat at the Stade Jean-Bouin.

Head Coach Richard Hill has named a strong and settled side for the match with the champions of France.

Bristol are currently level on points with Cardiff Blues at the top of pool 3 with Stade Francais a further three points behind so it’s all to play for with just rounds five and six left to play.

Cardiff take on Harlequins this weekend so it’s entirely possible that it could be a “winner takes all” scenario next weekend when Cardiff come to Bristol.

With his side having put in a fine performance at home to Saracens last weekend, Hill therefore makes only minimal changes to his starting line up with Darren Crompton moving from tighthead to loosehead and Jason Hobson coming in at tighthead.

On the replacements bench, Redford Pennycook comes in as Bristol go for five forwards on the bench. David Hill returns to the matchday 22 with two ‘foreigners’ allowed in European competition and Graeme Beveridge is named as the replacement scrum half.

Bristol, of course, defeated Stade 17-0 in the first fixture at the Memorial Stadium back in November so Hill’s men know that Stade are beatable but will also be aware that the Parisians will be looking for revenge.

“I can name pretty much an unchanged team as we came through unscathed against Saracens which is very unusual at this level.”

“With our away record, and Stade’s home record, you’d put a lot of money on Stade! However, confidence is growing in our squad and at this stage I don’t think they’re daunted by the prospect of going to Paris.”

“The French are a different proposition at home. They don’t travel well but they’re a different animal altogether at home. They will automatically assume they well win at home because of their fantastic home record.”

“I think they were pretty upset to lose at our place and particularly disappointed the way we outplayed them up front. I think our forwards will have a tough time out there. But our pack will be up for it, It’ll be lively for sure.”

“It’s exciting because we’re still in the mix. No-one would have thought that we’d be topping the group after four games. This game now really means something and that’s very important. It’s been a very difficult selection this week.”