Abily: Lyon going from strength to strength

Camille Abily was player of the match when Olympique Lyonnais won last year's final and she believes they are even stronger heading into their title defence against 1. FFC Frankfurt.

Camille Abily is aiming for a second straight European title
Camille Abily is aiming for a second straight European title ©Sportsfile

Olympique Lyonnais coach Patrice Lair did not hesitate when the opportunity to bring Camille Abily back to France presented itself.

The dynamic midfielder, who played under Lair at Montpellier Hérault SC, left American side FC Gold Pride for Lyon in 2010 and the France playmaker capped her first season by being named player of the match in their UEFA Women's Champions League final defeat of 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in London.

A year on she is ready for another showpiece occasion and the eight-goal competition joint-top scorer spoke to UEFA.com about the challenge ahead against 1. FFC Frankfurt in Munich on Thursday.

UEFA.com: How has Lyon's run to the final compared to last season?

Camille Abily: It's been very positive. We had more problems last year, especially in our quarter-final against Zvezda. We only won 1-0 at home after drawing over there. The results have been better this year. We beat Brøndby 4-0 twice in the quarters and then surprisingly beat Potsdam 5-1 in the semis.

UEFA.com: How have this Lyon team improved over the last 12 months?

Abily: We know each other better so the understanding is improving. We've got the experience of beating Potsdam in last year's final and we're getting older too. The more international games and European ties we play the better we get.

UEFA.com: What are your best memories of last year's final?

Abily: It was fantastic. I remember when Lara Dickenmann scored our second goal. There were only five minutes left so we knew then we were going to lift that cup. Every time I see the pictures I get emotional. It's one of the best memories I have.

UEFA.com: What effect did that win have on Lyon and in France?

Abily: It was very important for the club because we'd lost in the final the previous year. So it brought us a lot of joy. It also had an impact on France's [FIFA Women's] World Cup campaign, helping us finish fourth. We had more of a winning mentality. Women's football is getting more recognition in France now. There's more media interest and more people in the stadiums.

UEFA.com: Lyon have experience of large crowds. Will that help you at the Olympiastadion?

Abily: Our experience will help us a lot. This stadium has a great history and reminds us of Olympique de Marseille's victory in the Champions League final in 1993. We know there will be a lot of people in the stadium. The Germans will turn up in their numbers and they won't necessarily be supporting us! We'll need to be strong but we're getting used to big matches in Germany after our World Cup campaign.

UEFA.com: As playmaker, you are seen as the team's brains. How would you describe your role?

Abily: I'm at the heart of the play. In my position you always see a lot of the ball. I'm accustomed to having Lotta Schelin in front of me and the same team-mates behind me, so we have a real understanding. I know when they will make runs and I try to give them good balls. If I get in a position to score myself, I look to be as clinical as possible.

UEFA.com: What kind of challenge do you expect Frankfurt to pose in comparison with Potsdam last year?

Abily: They're both German teams so they have things in common. But Potsdam are a very athletic, powerful team, while Frankfurt have a different style. Their game is centred more on technique, with some really strong individual talents. I saw a bit of their semi-final at Arsenal and even though they were missing a few players, you could see they have a lot of quality.

UEFA.com: Germany remains the benchmark for women's football in Europe. Is it even more satisfying then when you knock out a German team?

Abily: Yes, because the Germans set the standards. To eliminate a German team over two legs gives us a lot of confidence. If we win the Champions League having eliminated two German teams in Germany, it'll mean French football and Olympique Lyonnais have progressed a lot.

UEFA.com: Has the key factor in your physical improvement been more French clubs turning professional?

Abily: That's it. At Lyon, we train in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon too. We have periods set aside for recuperation. Before we would only train two or three times a week. You can't help but improve if you train more. The work pays off.

A full version of this interview is available in the official final programme which is available to buy now.