AS Monaco FC's best chance of winning the UEFA Champions League final against FC Porto is if no one gives them a hope of pulling off a victory. That's the verdict of Monaco captain Ludovic Giuly, who has been a key player in the French team's progress to Gelsenkirchen.
Didier Deschamps' side have become accustomed to being written off as underdogs throughout the competition, and as far as Giuly is concerned, Wednesday's game will be no exception. "
Most people think Porto are favourites for this game and that's how I prefer it," he told uefa.com. "We need to keep the same mentality for the final."
Giuly has scored four goals in this season's competition, including one in the 8-3 win against semi-finalists RC Deportivo La Coruña on Matchday 4. "We have pulled off some real shocks this season, starting with that win against Deportivo," Giuly said. "The other marvellous results of course came against Real Madrid [CF] and Chelsea [FC] in the knockout rounds."
Beating Madrid in the quarter-finals gave Monaco the belief that they could make it to the final in Germany. "That game was important because it proved to ourselves that we could win against players like Ronaldo and Luís Figo," said Giuly. "Moments like that are magic and will stay with us forever."
Giuly scored twice at the Stade Louis II in the 3-1 win that saw Carlos Queiroz's men bow out of the competition, but he insisted that blocking Madrid's route to a tenth European Champion Clubs' Cup triumph had been a team effort. "That was the great thing about it," he said. "Like our campaign this season, it was not the story of one man, of one hero: it was the whole team."
Soul of Monaco
Giuly embodies Monaco and his effervescence and eye for goal saw him crowned runner-up in this season's French Player of the Year awards. Deschamps had no hesitation in appointing him captain when he took over as coach three years ago. "I thought by giving Ludo extra responsibilities, he would get more involved," said Deschamps. "He was full of life and ready to give much more."
Now Giuly is on the verge of leading Monaco to the biggest success in their history. "Each time we won, we were the underdogs and we weren't expected to win," he said. "We need to keep the same mentality, the same concentration, for the final if we're going to pull it off."
Giuly has praised his father Dominique, a former goalkeeper at SC Bastia, for helping him become a professional. Dominique was a coach at Olympique Lyonnais when Giuly was coming through the ranks. "My dad had a huge impact on my career," he said. "He never put me under big pressure but I always listened to him. After I moved to Monaco [in January 1998], I gained confidence and grew up, and now we talk man to man."
Dominique will be in the stands in Gelsenkirchen watching his son in action, and he could yet see him lift the greatest prize in club football. "We have a great chance," said Giuly. "We have every reason to think we can go all the way now.
After the victories we've had, confidence is not a problem."
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