INTERVIEW: REYNALD PEDROS

DRIVE AND DESIRE

Coach Reynald Pedros praises Lyon’s character as he targets a second European title in as many years at the helm

The semi-final against Chelsea was a real test. What did winning say about the character of this Lyon team?
In the return leg we struggled to a greater extent, but we never gave up and were always in the game. We stood up and were counted and that’s very positive. As the seasons go on, the more difficult it becomes to win the Champions League. We’re aware that we can’t always dominate and that we’ll perhaps have to defend a bit deeper 

and show other qualities to win games, and that’s what happened in the Chelsea match. We saw a Lyon side that was prepared to work hard and be dogged, particularly in defensive terms.

Was it good to see that side of your team?

We knew we were capable of doing it because this team is very strong mentally. I’m not sure, however, that those around us thought we could. When people watch Lyon games and see the opposition put ten passes together, the comment is always that Lyon aren’t playing well. That’s surprising and it isn’t our outlook at all. We look closely at our opponents and we’re aware that the standard in the Champions League is very high and that we’re up against some very strong sides. We now know that we’re capable of performing like that and we have to try to ensure that we’re made to suffer as little as possible.

Tell us about your final opponents...

This Barcelona side have got real quality. We came up against them last season and they’re a team that’s improved. When we saw the draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals, we said to ourselves that Barcelona had a very good chance of reaching the final. However, we also saw how Barcelona’s semi-final tie against Bayern proved to be really tough for them, particularly the home game. They’re good on the ball and have individual and collective quality. It’ll be a good final.

What role does your captain Wendie Renard play in getting the best from the team?

She is someone who motivates the players. She’s someone I have a great deal of trust in. I know that if she has any thoughts on the squad, she will pull them back into line. But I also like to leave them to their own devices because they’re grown-ups. Independence is important to me when you have a squad like this, and it’s a case of stepping in every now and then to

PEDROS FACT FILE

Reynald Pedros replaced Gérard Prêcheur as Lyon coach in the summer of 2017 and oversaw a near-perfect debut campaign at the club. OL won all but one of their 22 league matches to record a 12th successive title triumph. They lost to Paris Saint- Germain in the domestic cup final but were untouchable in Europe, where they scored 38 goals and won eight of their nine games, including their 4-1 victory against Wolfsburg in the Kyiv final. Pedros was  a Ligue 1 title winner with Nantes in 1994/95 and also played for Lyon. He was capped 25 times by France between 1993 and 1996.

remotivate the team or speak to the captain to remotivate everyone.

When you lifted the Champions League trophy in Kyiv last season, how much were you able to enjoy the moment or were you straight onto the next challenge?

We won the Champions League and then we had the French Cup final to play so I didn’t have the time to savour the Champions League. The first thing that you need to remember – and that we said from the very first Champions League match this year – was that we were not defending our title, we were looking to win another. In terms of attitude, that is very important. And that’s what we say to the players: what happened last year is fantastic, for the club, for us. We’ve savoured it. But what is important is what will happen tomorrow and going forward – going on and winning that title, and becoming champions of Europe.

You have had a very successful two years in charge so far...

When you win, it’s true that you try to continue pursuing excellence; you keep trying to seek out what will make you advance even further. But when you’re at a top-level club like this one, things are sometimes a little easier. As a coach, it’s important to adapt, and we have adapted quite well to our squad, to our players, to how they feel.

What is the mentality you have to keep on winning?

What hurt me most last year was losing the French Cup final. I found it really tough. I was telling myself: “It can’t be true.” I said to myself that I never wanted to feel like that again. I never want to live through that again. We don’t know what it will be like tomorrow, but we are truly in that frame of mind and I think that’s important: to hate losing. To detest losing. It’s incredibly important. It’s good to say it, but proving it out there on the pitch is even better. And, for the moment – touch wood – that’s what has been happening.

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