Beaten on penalties by 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in last season's UEFA Women's Champions League final, Olympique Lyonnais have been rejuvenated under coach Patrice Lair as they prepare for a repeat fixture next week.
Having come up just short against Potsdam last May, the following month Lair succeeded Farid Benstiti after the latter had led Lyon to four straight titles. "I'm not afraid to say I'm here to win the Champions League," said the former Montpellier Hérault SC coach at the time of his appointment. He is now just one victory from achieving that aim at the first attempt and defender Laura Georges has nothing but praise for the Frenchman's approach.
"We had a great pre-season; we worked in a different way and it has been going really well. It's been a very rigorous job; we have improved on a tactical level and focused a lot on that. It's a different way of working and a different approach towards the players.
The squad adapted really well to the training methods. We can see the results now, the team are performing really well."
Lair's positive impact is all too evident, but what will his players need to do differently in order to reverse the disappointment of last season in Getafe? "First of all, keep the fighting spirit," added Georges. "We will need to up the level of our game and show a strong will on the pitch; we shouldn't think too much and just be determined. If we get as far as a penalty shoot-out, well, we have gained some experience at that."
Identifying Fatmire Bajramaj, scorer of five goals in the competition this term, as Potsdam's most potent threat, Georges remembers vividly last year's near miss. "Unfortunately we lost because of the last penalty," she said. "It was a big disappointment, because we were so close to reaching our objective. What I remember is the team played a very good game but can still improve. We now have a chance to take our revenge."
Taking place at Fulham FC's Craven Cottage home in west London, the women's final will be staged just 48 hours prior to the men's event in the English capital. "
I am really happy to be able to play in a final once again and to have the opportunity to win it with the team," added Georges. "London, I don't know the city, but I know it has a great reputation. If we can celebrate the title over there, on a wonderful pitch, it would be ideal."
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