first team / OL – Barcelona D-1

The OL press conference

Published on the 26 November 2007 à 18:16 by BV

In front of the press, Jérémy Toulalan and Alain Perrin discussed the match between Olympique Lyonnais and FC Barcelona. They also talked about Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and uncertainty surrounding the participation of Karim Benzema.

Jérémy Toulalan

You were out for several weeks with a knee injury. How do you feel now?
Pretty good. I did a lot of physical work over the last 2 weeks so I would be 100% fit. During that time I couldn’t work with the ball, so I did physical work with Robert (Duverne).

How are you approaching this match?
Obviously we’re going to play to win. We know this Barça team a bit better now. We know we’ll have to attack because they’re not a team that likes to defend so much. So we need to grab hold of the match.

Is Messi Barcelona’s main threat?
He’s the most dangerous right now even though they have a lot of strong attackers. Will we have a plan to shut Messi down? You’d have to ask our manager.

Karim Benzema isn’t certain to play. Would your confidence be affected if he has to pull out of the game?
For him and us both it would be a tough scene, but Fred is coming nicely back to form. He scored last year against Madrid. So we don’t have any worries there. We all hope Karim will be operational but if he isn’t we know Fred will give all he has.

Have you spoken about the match with Barça’s Frenchmen?
Yeah, with Lilian Thuram. He thinks it’ll be a tough match for them but didn’t give me any advice on how we can beat them.

Do you think OL is good enough to qualify for the knockout phase?
Even after the losses to Barcelona and Glasgow, we were sure we would qualify. Today, it’s 50-50. I’m sure we’ll qualify.

In your absence, Fabio Santos put in some good performances. Does the competition worry you?
It’s good for him and it’s good for the team. In the end it’s the manager who decides. We the players are just there to give our best.

Alain Perrin:

What did you take from the first match against Barcelona?
That there was at the time a difference in class between the sides. We’ve obviously come a long way to bridging that gap since then.

Would you prefer to see Ronaldinho on the field or the bench?
He’s the kind of player who doesn’t always have an amazing game in domestic competition but who, with his talent and qualities, can make the difference at any moment. But they also have a lot of other good players.

How do you see Barça right now as they struggle for form on the road?
They’re still a dangerous side in attacking terms, thanks to players like Messi and Ronaldinho. Certain players like Eto’o and Henry will be out but others like Bojan and Xavi or even Iniesta are great players who can make the difference. Anyway, we’ll be facing a tough team; we’ll need to see an OL at the height of its powers in order to get the win.

What would you say your chances are of qualifying for the knockout phase?
In light of the number of different permutations of our result and that of the Stuttgart-Glasgow game, we can’t set our hopes too high. We’ll just do what we can to give the best possible performance, and we’ll see about the numbers afterwards.

How Karim Benzema?
He has a 30-40% chance of playing. We’ll decide in conjunction with the medical staff tomorrow. He couldn’t play today. Another night’s rest could do wonders.

Do you regret not having signed a striker this summer?
The logic, when you’re putting a squad together, is to have two players for each position, not four. When we played a 4-4-2, there interest in having 4 strikers. But seeing as we play a 4-3-3, we have enough effective players who can play the central striker role. Our attack isn’t all about Karim Benzema but also players like Govou, Juninho and Ben Arfa. Right now we have enough strikers to score goals.
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