Rémi Garde is well aware of OL's poor track record in the final match before the winter break... the OL coach talked about the match against Nice as well as the Europa League draw...
What do you think of the draw?
"It won't be easy... it wasn't the most favourable of draws for us. But then again, the draw is one thing and the two matches we have to play are another thing entirely. Obviously being drawn against Tottenham brings up Hugo Lloris. It's kismet. It'll certainly be very moving for Hugo to play at Gerland. I hope he won't feel like playing too well on the night, but I very much doubt that will be the case..."
A word on this Tottenham team?
"They're having a good season; they're in the running for the Champions League next season. they have a complete squad with a lot of options, and slowly but surely they're improving. they'll be a tough opponent. There ar also some old memories coming to the surface from my time at Arsenal. The London derbies between the two sides remind me of the Rhône derbies between Saint-Etienne and Lyon. I don't know whethe rthe Spurs fans will remember me, but perhaps they will make that extra little bit of effort."
The possibility of playing Inter in the quarter-finals?
"We already have two tough matches to play... we'll see after that... but anything can happen in cup football."
How will you approach these two matches, which come in the middle of a very busy period?
"Indeed, we'll be taking on LOSC, Bordeaux... we'll see. But I'm sticking to my guns: we'll give our all in this competition. Could it affect our activity in the winter transfer market? No."
Does OL have what it takes to counter this English side's game?
"I think we have the qualitiesto get past them. But, as I've said, there is a lot of variety in the Tottenham squad, which means they can play many different ways... and their coach is Mediterranean."
Our ambition and our professional conscience will serve us well
How is the final match of the calendar year shaping up?
"We're 150% concentrated on this match against Nice. We've turned the page on the loss to PSG, a match that left us frustrated and more. Apart from Mou Dabo, none of the players we were expecting to return to action will do so. A win would leave us with an average of two points per match, which would be a very satisfying way to round out the first half of the season. The final matches are never the easiest ones to play. But we've prepared well."
Is it a chance for revenge?
"Indeed,we've already played Brest, in the Coupe de la Ligue, and we missed our chance. that gives us a reference point in terms of what not to do."
What about Claude Puel's return to Gerland?
"I'm focused on the task at hand. Nice are a quality side and they're enjoying some good form... that's what I'm thinking about."
Is it possible that the fans will pick the wrong target on Saturday night?
"I have things to say to my players, and that's what I'm focused on; I don't have much to say to the fans. They've always stuck with us and spurred us on. We always enjoy it when we play at Gerland."
Aren't you disappointed to have lost your five-point lead atop the table?
"We don't have the advantage over PSG to be able to stay ahead of them, but we have shown that we have what it takes to trouble them for as long as possible and to stay among the top places. We know there will be other points in the season when the rankings will vacillate. And as long as there is still a mathematical chance of our taking the title, we'll keep believing."
How do you make sure you don't under-perform in the final game of the calendar year?
"I've spoken about it with the squad. The solution is in the players' hands. We have the opportunity, the luck, to be playing a match like this. We need to do all we can to make sure we have some good holidays. Our ambition and professional conscience will serve us well. We're not on holidays yet..."
What's your take on the discplinary commission's decision concerning Zlatan?
"That they're doing their job..."
And the end of the world?
"I haven't heard anyone talking about it in Arbresle... so I'll find somehwere there to hide."