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Yoann Gourcuff told uefa.com the painfully steep learning curve FC Girondins de Bordeaux endured in the UEFA Champions League last season has played a key role in their success this time around.
Gourcuff was part of the Bordeaux side that slumped to a 4-0 defeat at Chelsea FC in their opening game of the 2008/09 group stage, going on to finish third in their section, but just over a year later, the French international midfielder's own rise has mirrored that of his club. Gourcuff headed Les Girondins' first goal in their 2-0 win against FC Bayern München on Tuesday to propel the French champions into the first knockout round with two games to spare.
"Last season's experience taught us that we had the quality to match the best teams in Europe," said the 23-year-old, who has developed into an indispensable fixture for club and country since arriving at Bordeaux, initially on loan, from AC Milan in summer 2008. "Last year, we were left with some regrets over missed opportunities. I think we deserved to win some matches, but they were decided by experience and a little bit of naivety on our part. But we have learned from that. We've now got more experience, more maturity, and I think the fact we won the French title last season gave the players, the staff and the club confidence."
Following Gourcuff's 37th-minute opener from a Wendel free-kick, Marouane Chamakh profited from a breakdown in communication in the Bayern defence to add a second in the closing stages, Bordeaux's first goal from open play in the group stage this season. Gourcuff acknowledged his team's win in Bavaria was built on a blend of coach Laurent Blanc's tactical nous and his team-mates' discipline and industry, as well as that all-important intangible, luck.
"We knew we were up against a good Bayern team, even though they've got a few problems at the moment and are lacking in confidence," he said. "Tactically we were spot on, and we were efficient when we had the ball. The first objective was to defend well as a team – everyone putting in the effort together – as we knew Bayern would put us in danger. We exploited our counterattacks well and also put them under pressure. We played really well, though we did enjoy the rub of the green at times."
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