Olympique Lyonnais full-back Anthony Réveillère is targeting another clean sheet against Rosenborg BK on Wednesday, as the French champions look to build on their impressive start in UEFA Champions League Group F.
Having scored more goals than any other side in last season's competition, Lyon opened the current campaign in typically swashbuckling fashion at the Stade Gerland a fortnight ago. Three goals in the space of ten first-half minutes set up a stylish 3-0 victory against Real Madrid CF, and Rosenborg will be on their guard against a similar onslaught at the Lerkendal stadium.
But while the forwards continued to make the headlines against Madrid, Lyon showed that they also know how to defend. Several changes were made in the summer, with a new coach and five new players arriving, yet the back four of last season has remained the same.
'Automatic at times'
Réveillère, who has established himself on the right side, believes Lyon's defence could provide the foundations for a successful campaign. "It's very important that we have maintained stability," he told uefa.com. "Last summer Eric Abidal and Cris arrived and, while they're both excellent, it takes time for defenders to get used to one another. Having played together for a whole season, we know each other well now and defending is automatic at times."
Lyon were made to soak up long periods of pressure against Madrid, often playing with nine men behind the ball. "When you play a team like Madrid you know you'll come under pressure," Réveillère explained. "They had a lot of possession but we were never too worried. We know that we defend well as a team and as soon as they approached our penalty area we tried to stamp out the danger."
On the few occasions that Madrid did carve an opening, they were denied by Grégory Coupet, and Réveillère was full of praise for the French international goalkeeper. "Greg's a world-class keeper and his presence is a massive plus," Réveillère said. "His greatest asset is his mental strength. Often he only has two or three saves to make but he never stops concentrating."
Like Coupet, Réveillère is also producing some of the best football of his career at the moment. The former Valencia CF defender did an excellent marking job on Julio Baptista on Matchday 1, as well as attacking up the right wing to good effect. Indeed, it was Réveillère's overlapping run past Roberto Carlos that led to Lyon's third goal.
"I thought before the game that there might be some spaces to exploit because Madrid are such an attacking side," said the 25-year-old. "Once I got beyond Roberto Carlos I just concentrated on delivering an accurate cross, then Sylvain Wiltord's finish was exceptional."
A testing campaign
With Lyon challenging for silverware both at home and in Europe this season, and France battling to secure FIFA World Cup qualification, Réveillère is preparing himself for a testing campaign. "Our priority is to defend our French title, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't already thinking about improving on last season's quarter-final finish in the Champions League," he said.
Capped twice by France already, Réveillère hopes his current form is not going unnoticed by Raymond Domenech. "I'd love to be involved in Germany next summer," he said. "There are more and more Lyon players in the France team these days, which shows that the coach respects the way we play. All I can do is continue playing well, then hopefully the rewards will come."