Lyon focused on fourth Women’s Champions League title in row | Suzanne Wrack

May 17, 2019 Off By readly

Dzsenifer Marozsán of Lyon says there will be a lot of emotion playing for the French club against Barcelona in the Champions League final in Budapest, the midfielder having been born in the Hungarian capital.

“It’s a big, big game for me,” the Germany captain said. “I’m proud to be born in Budapest – it’s perfect for me that the final is here. I can play the first time at home in front of my family. It’s my dream, it was my dream, but now it’s true. I’m really excited.”

Lyon are five-times winners of the competition and should they beat a Barcelona side playing in their first final on Saturday, they will pick up their fourth consecutive title. Marozsán said that maintaining their run keeps them driven to succeed. “It’s really important for us as a team and for the club as well, as we can write history,” she said. “It’s a big motivation for us to win the final; four times [in a row] doesn’t happen before.”

Lyon’s captain, Wendie Renard, echoed those sentiments. “We want to keep on writing history for our club for all the investments that are made into our team,” she said. “It’s very important to retain our title as we’ve done in the past.”

Complacency is not an option. “I think we’re the team everybody wants to beat and that’s what I say every time,” Renard added. “We win trophies because we do everything possible to win those competitions.

“But it’s a final tomorrow, it’s 50-50; we’re defending our title but once you start a match there’s no favourite.”

Lyon were handed a tough route to the final, facing last year’s final opponents, Wolfsburg, in the quarter-finals before meeting Chelsea in the next round. They did not look their free-flowing best then but Renard said those challenges had shown the depth of their quality.

“We never feel like we are superior, we always respect our opponents and we try to use our qualities and our strengths as much as we can,” the 28-year-old centre-back said.

“We’ve got great players but that’s not enough. It’s a state of mind. It’s a will to progress. The players, the club, always wants to get more trophies and be at the highest level possible and once you’ve started you want more.

“We’ve started winning, we want more. That’s what gets us going: winning titles. Against Chelsea we showed that we were able to defend, to be strong, to play together. It’s not something we’ve shown consistently but we’ve shown we can overcome such obstacles. I think we’re able to adapt to any situation in a match. You can’t be on top form for 90 minutes in every match. You have stronger and weaker periods. We know how to work together to get better.”

Marozsán agreed: “We always find a solution. It doesn’t matter if it’s against Chelsea or Wolfsburg – they were tough games. We didn’t have a great game but we won in the end and that’s the most important thing. We stay always together as a team and this is the key to winning games.”

Lyon’s head coach, Reynald Pedros, has had his team watching videos in preparation and highlighted the absence of the suspended Kheira Hamraoui as a big loss to Barcelona’s ball-playing midfield.

“We used a lot of clips and video from Barcelona to show their strengths and weaknesses,” Pedros said. “I’m not going to dwell on the details of the things we studied precisely. They play with ball possession – it’s a very technical team.

“They have a strong player in Hamraoui who is suspended, and she’s done them a lot of good since the start of the season. They don’t have this player but they have other players. We played them last season but the team hasn’t changed a lot. They have the same philosophy and in the squad they have some talents. We want to make sure they don’t get to express themselves too much.”

But Pedros was keen to stress that their focus is firmly on themselves. “We did not overdo it,” he said. “We showed them the main points but we focus on our own game and that’s very important.”

The fact that Barcelona have not conceded in the Champions League since September, Pedros said, is an added challenge. “This is also the motivation: they have not conceded a goal in such a long time. It’s up to us to find a way and be efficient. We know that Barcelona has a lot of strength in attack and defence.”

Renard is also buoyed by the test: “It’s an additional challenge. We always try to score early in the game and will be extremely motivated.”

With Lyon’s strikeforce led by Ada Hegerberg, Barcelona have a tough task, but Pedros was keen to point to the importance of those around the Ballon d’Or winner. “She has a difficult position on the pitch,” he said. “For such forwards it can be very complicated when you play sharp opponents, physical players that try to destabilise her.

“It’s not an easy position but she manages to make the most of it for the team. Her job is to finish things, to score goals.

“She knows she can’t win games on her own – she needs the team. We try and exploit her qualities as much as we can. But let’s not forgot all the things we do around her to help her be able to score.”

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