Farid Benstiti led Paris Saint-Germain past Olympique Lyonnais but tells UEFA.com he is not taking quarter-final opponents Glasgow City FC lightly.
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Farid Benstiti has led Paris Saint-Germain past his former club Olympique Lyonnais, but he is not taking their next UEFA Women's Champions League opponents Glasgow City FC lightly.
Benstiti coached Lyon from 2001 to 2010, guiding them to French dominance before leaving after their UEFA Women's Champions League final loss to 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam. Lyon proceeded to win the competition's next two editions, yet this time went out in the last 16 – 2-1 on aggregate – when Fatmire Alushi earned Paris a 1-0 away victory at Stade de Gerland ten minutes from time.
Like Paris, Glasgow are in the quarter-finals for the first time, but are outsiders to beat an all-star lineup built by Benstiti since his 2012 return from Russia to France, even if they have found Lyon a barrier to domestic honours and fell to Tyresö FF in the last 32 in 2013/14. Benstiti spoke to UEFA.com about their tie with Glasgow in March and the international squad he has put together.
On playing Glasgow …
My first reaction was that it is a good thing to get to know another country, because I have never been to Scotland and for us and for me it is a very good experience, not only for football but for many things – culture and to see another team.
I can't say that it's a good thing [on the pitch] because I want to respect the other team, but OK, we have a chance to get to the semi-final. If we take it seriously and we respect Glasgow, we have maybe more chance than when we played Lyon, that's logical. But it won't be easy, we really must be very serious and respect this team.
On paper we are favourites, we know that it's clear we have many players that are very, very good, but you know football is football and everyone thought that Lyon would make the quarter-final and now it's Paris. It was a big surprise, but we don't want Glasgow to repeat what we did.
On a possible semi-final against holders VfL Wolfsburg or Swedish champions FC Rosengård ...
In the semi-final anything is possible. All the teams are very good and very strong and even if you are drawn in the semi-final against Frankfurt or Linköping, it is the same thing – two very strong teams. Wolfsburg are a big team, Rosengård are a big team, but if we get past this quarter-final everything is possible.
On his Paris team …
We have a strong team, a team that has strong belief. All my players really think that they could do it. I don't know where that comes from, but this is the success of my team. I have so many nice players, they are so strong when they play and we have big character in the team. They don't want to lose, they always want to win and for me it's easy to coach them. But we must progress in our collective football.
On the difference between the Lyon and Glasgow ties ...
The players and the staff, we really want to improve our football now, because it was so hard to win against Lyon and the context was not easy – psychologically, with the rivalry. Now we must ensure that we play this quarter-final like a quarter-final. You understand? It's a game now, it's not against Lyon – we play Glasgow and we play this quarter-final with pleasure and not with pressure. We really want to do this and to produce very good football.
On coaching a team with so many different nationalities …
[Laughing] I try to speak English, but the players understand football. And when they understand football it's easy. It's fun in training when we talk about the game – or before and after a match or at half-time – and it's a fantastic experience for me and for all the players. We enjoy this situation, but it's very, very interesting for a coach like me.
On the players he signed for this season …
I wanted to have some very good players at the club. Players like Caroline Seger are fantastic and the German players like Josephine Henning and Lira Bajramaj [Alushi], they are so funny. They are so serious with their football and they are so nice in their life with all the players. I think we are like a family now, which is what I wanted. The best thing I did with this team is that the girls are like a family in our club.
For the first year with the new players to have been so easy for them and for me, it's a victory. There is great unity and we really want to go far. We want to work hard and to win together something. In football everything is possible. And I know all about this competition – I had my first game in it eight years ago. And you have to be very serious in this competition in order to succeed. We have to know that we can do it, that's my job.