It was in the presence of Grégory Coupet that OL coach Gérard Houllier fronted up before the journalists for the traditional Champions League pre-match press conference. And for him, there isn’t any doubt: “The match against Dynamo is both important and crucial!”
What impressions have you kept from the first leg?
A mitigated impression that confirms what I had expected. They are a team with a huge attacking potential. We had to defend with real guts and also a bit of luck to leave there without conceding a goal. They are a team that attacks and are constantly dangerous. That’s also why they’ve conceded so many goals. We saw that they could have opened the scoring twice before Real scored. That score didn’t reflect the match. I had confirmation of that when we played them in those special conditions. It was a strange match.
Considering that they probably lost all hope of qualifying in the first match, do you think you’ll be up against a team going for broke?
They will be trying everything to qualify for the UEFA Cup. Of course I would like them to come out and try to score goals. They are full of confidence as their results since playing us would suggest. They were better against us than they were against Real and they were better then than in their first match. Perhaps we got them at a good moment. At the same time, we’re not overly concerned with our opponents. Our number one obsession is ourselves and playing as well as we can, which is something we are good at.
Do you think this Dynamo team is good enough to give you a run for your money?
Yes, because they have an impressive attacking potential. In the first match between us they played some great football. They have string impact players and have well-worked free-kicks.
You have seen the last few matches from the sidelines. Are you surprised by your team?
What makes the difference is the style. We have always emerged by playing football. There has never been any panic. That’s the mark of Mr Houllier: control the match, the moments when you’re dominating and the moments when you’re being dominated. We also learnt a lot from the Milan game. Even just minutes from elimination, they always respected the tactics.
Do you think this could be a great year for Lyon in the Champions League?
The aim is to keep getting better. It’s been several seasons now where we haven’t been happy with the quarter-finals. Each time we’ve been disappointed to be eliminated, so the aim is to go further this year. In the domestic league we are flying high, in the Champions League we’ve shown a certain quality so far so I think that gives us reason to be optimistic.
You didn’t get much of a work out against Nancy, is that a good thing?
The less I have to do the better I look. For the whole team, it’s important to be solid at the back. We are taking on a team with real attacking prowess. We have to be string. Cris is playing his last match before being suspended against Rennes, so he will be desperate to show his class. He’s a real leader in defence.
How did you see the performances by Rémy Vercoutre?
You have to acknowledge his positive performances. He was extraordinary. Coming into the starting line-up of a team is never easy, but playing well match after match is just great. He’s a real worker who gives everything for the team so his performances don’t surprise me.