Sonia Bompastor says Olympique Lyonnais are even better than the side which won last season's title, but the captain tells UEFA.com why it would be unwise to underestimate 1. FFC Frankfurt.
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Olympique Lyonnais have been in sensational form in the defence of their UEFA Women's Champions League title, scoring 37 times and conceding just once in eight matches en route to the final. But while captain Sonia Bompastor, 31, believes the champions possess an even better team than last season, she tells UEFA.com they will take nothing for granted in next Thursday's showpiece against 1. FFC Frankfurt in Munich.
UEFA.com: Lyon's run to the final has been extremely impressive. Has it felt even more comfortable than last year?
Sonia Bompastor: We've enjoyed a very good run. Scoring eight times and not conceding against Brøndby in the quarter-final was an especially fine achievement, and then we even surprised ourselves by scoring five against Potsdam in the semis. The state of the pitch was one of the main reasons for the 5-1 score that day. It rained a lot and the ball was slowing up all the time in the water. We initially thought it'd be a big handicap for us because we like to play slick passing football, but Potsdam struggled more than we did.
UEFA.com: The return against Potsdam was far tougher and finished goalless. How important was it to avoid defeat in Germany?
Bompastor: We didn't find the second leg easy. We weren't sure whether to attack or sit back. In the end we played defensively and suffered. That's not like us. We prefer to attack in numbers. But we showed we're capable of resisting, riding our luck a bit, and getting a draw away to one of the best teams in Germany.
UEFA.com: Does this mean the French league is now as strong as Germany's?
Bompastor: I wouldn't go that far. The standard in France still isn't consistent enough. We have three or four teams at the top and the others struggle to match that standard. In Germany, there are five or six teams fighting for the title every year.
UEFA.com: Frankfurt will be playing the final on home soil and they'll have the fans behind them. Is that a concern?
Bompastor: I hope there will be a big crowd. When you're a top-level sportsperson you want a great atmosphere. Last summer, at the [FIFA Women's] World Cup in Germany, we [France] played in some magnificent stadiums, and the fans gave their support from start to finish. It pushes you to play at your best. The fans will be behind Frankfurt, of course, but we have experience of playing in front of hostile crowds.
UEFA.com: With Lyon on course for the treble, the next few weeks will be busy.
Bompastor: This is crunch time. We have [Sunday's] French Cup final, then the Champions League final, then we play Juvisy in a match that could decide the league title. We'll need to be strong but we have the squad and the quality. We are confident.
UEFA.com: How do you feel this Lyon team compares to last year's team?
Bompastor: We haven't lost many players and we've strengthened the squad with some quality additions. In terms of our style, we're playing better football. That's not so surprising given that we have been working together for two years now. We have developed an excellent understanding and gained more experience.
UEFA.com: What are your memories of last year's final win against 1. FCC Turbine Potsdam in London?
Bompastor: The previous year the girls had lost the final on penalties. I wasn't at the club [in 2010] but having discussed it with my team-mates I know there was a lot of frustration and disappointment. So last year, when we faced Potsdam once more, we really wanted to win. When I heard the final whistle, there was a huge explosion of joy because we'd worked so hard. Lifting the cup was really an amazing moment. There was an outpouring of joy and you just feel really satisfied.
UEFA.com: Is it easy to captain a side that possesses so many fine individual talents or does this make your job harder?
Bompastor: I've always been lucky enough to play in teams where the standard has been well above average. My role at OL is so enjoyable because there is so much quality at every training session and in every game. What I have to do is try to ensure the individual talents are pulling in the same direction. We have a lot of forwards capable of going past opponents and scoring. But we have to be capable of unsettling teams through our collective play as well. This is maybe the hardest thing to ensure. Fortunately our players don't have big egos. We get most enjoyment from winning in a collective way.