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Olympique Lyonnais continue their bid for a third straight UEFA Women's Champions League title when FC Malmö come to Stade de Gerland for the first leg of their quarter-final on Wednesday and French international midfielder Camille Abily accepts it will not be easy.
Lyon boast an all-star lineup further strengthened this winter by Japan forward Shinobu Ohno and United States winger Megan Rapinoe, but Abily – player of the match in the last two finals – knows Malmö have a strong side, in particular Anja Mittag, who played for 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam against Abily in the 2011 showpiece. Abily speaks to UEFA.com about their opponents and Lyon's own ambititions.
UEFA.com: What do you expect from Malmö?
Camille Abily: A very tough game. We know the Swedish league very well, because [striker] Lotta Schelin talks to us about it. We know they are a very good team. They have a few good foreign players too, like Mittag, who we will meet again having played against her at Potsdam. There is also the Swiss player [Ramona] Bachmann. It will be the hardest step before the final. They are the toughest team we could have faced.
UEFA.com: What will be the keys to winning this game?
Abily: We will have to play our own game. We have quality. Our team has a lot of confidence. We are not always certain to win, but we have confidence in our own ability and we will play on our technical skills, our attacking speed. We will want to win over there and at home – we always want to win, so we will always attack.
UEFA.com: What do Rapinoe and Ohno bring to the team?
Abily: Something positive. Both players have won trophies with their national teams. The Olympic Games for Megan Rapinoe, and Ohno the [FIFA Women's] World Cup and a silver medal at the Olympics. Their experience will bring something positive and it will create a certain motivation within the team because there will be fights for places, even if the competition is already very high at OL. Everyone will fight for their place, and that will make the standard of the team even higher.
UEFA.com: Talking about motivation, how much do clubs like big-spending Paris Saint-Germain FC or fellow quarter-finalists FCF Juvisy Essonne help you prepare for the challenges of the UEFA Women's Champions League?
Abily: It is important as far as the intensity of the games is concerned. It is true that the French league is still varied in standard. When we play some teams at the bottom of the table, with all due respect, the intensity is very different from what we find in the Champions League. We need to work a lot in training to compensate for that. But facing teams like PSG, Montpellier or Juvisy allows us to raise our standard and perform well in the domestic league in order to do well in the Champions League.
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