Interview

Bring on Bayern

Having seen off Juventus and Manchester City, forward Maxwel Cornet says Lyon are ready to spring another surprise against the German champions.

Few would have considered Olympique Lyonnais among the favourites when the quarter-final draw was made in early July. Even with a narrow advantage to defend at Juventus in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, the French side had it all to do to get to Lisbon. However, having edged out Juve on away goals, OL produced a tactical masterclass to oust Manchester City in the last eight. With a semi-final against Bayern München looming large, Maxwel Cornet – whose quarter-final opener against City added to his three goals against the English club last season – explains how they did it.

Congratulations. Your scoring exploits against Manchester City are exceptional. How do you explain your success against them?

I don’t know if it’s a success. I’d say it’s due to the daily work I put in. I’m just fortunate; you want to play matches like those against Manchester City every day. Knowing you’re up against great teams like City or Bayern is an additional source of motivation. 

Did you have in mind your past successes against City ahead of the game?

Yes, of course. They’re images engraved in my memory, as scoring twice against Manchester City doesn’t happen every day. I watched my performances against them again. I used the good things I was able to do in that game, even though I wasn’t playing in the exact same position. I did some good things in that game, so I tried to repeat them. What must be remembered from [the quarter-final] is the team spirit and the group cohesion we kept against this team. 

Was that the key in past fixtures against Manchester City too, the cohesion of the squad?

Yes, obviously. They’re key factors to be successful against such sides. If you don’t have that source of motivation, that extra desire that these sides have, you’re definitely out. We showed we had the quality to compete with these sides. It went our way, so we have to keep going, humbly, against Bayern, who are massive opponents.

You scored the all-important first goal. Was it important for Lyon to score first? Is it easier to defend a lead?

Yes, it’s obviously easier when you open the scoring early in the game. It allows you to have the psychological edge over your opponent too. When you know the attributes of this side, with the likes of [Kevin] De Bruyne or [Raheem] Sterling, who can make a difference at any moment, it’s important to score very early in the game and to make things easier for yourselves while aiming at doubling your lead to be more comfortable.


What were you thinking when the ball came to you?

No, the move went very quickly indeed. It was a pass from deep from [Fernando] Marçal, who passed it to Karl [Toko-Ekambi], and I tried not to be surprised; I was following the move, and after the ball came back to me, I saw where the goalkeeper was positioned. I saw that he had come out and had not closed the angle and I struck it first time. At that moment, I didn’t think too much, and I was happy when the goal was then given. 

Were you worried at all while you were waiting for it to be checked?

Of course. There’s that concern that the goal might be ruled out by VAR, so I was happy when the referee pointed to the centre circle. 

Was there again some concern when City equaliser? How did you feel? Was it a blow?

No, no. We were still confident and continued to focus on ourselves. We continued to maintain our defensive solidity because we knew that we had the firepower upfront to add those extra goals. After that, once again, the difference was the players that came on. We saw that Moussa was in a great state of mind and he did us a world of good when he came on, keeping the ball well and getting the goal that put us ahead, and then scoring the second goal that gave us some daylight.

The match could, however, have gone a different way. In the same minute, Sterling missed an open goal and Moussa then scored his second goal, the team’s third. That virtually settled the match.

It’s true that we were fortunate, with that missed chance from Sterling, but you also have to make your own luck. We did everything in that match. We played as one. If the goal to make it 2-2 had gone in, it would have made things more difficult for the end of the match, but luckily for us, he didn’t put it away, and we were able to extend our lead with that goal from Moussa. We played until the very end and didn’t take our foot off the gas, and we were chasing down that qualification. 

You were in the semi-finals of the Europa League three years ago now. How has the squad changed and what impact has the coach, Rudi Garcia, had on the team?

Since then we have come a long way indeed. The team has changed a lot, if not completely. Changes were also made by the institution, the club, with some departures and some arrivals. The coach's arrival did us a lot of good because he's a coach with experience at the highest level and of big games. He instils that in us on a daily basis. It’s the minor details that he gives us which make the difference in big games.


What did he say to you before the quarter-final?

He just told us to enjoy it, because it’s really, really nice to find ourselves at this stage of the competition. We’ve got nothing to lose; we just have to make the most of the present and to play this game as best we can.

The stadiums may be empty but the fans are thrilled with your progress; they couldn’t attend the game but there were party scenes in Lyon. Are the players aware of that?

Of course. We’re playing for our fans, who aren’t able to be with us in the stadium to will us on, but they’ve got their place in the corner of our minds. We’ve seen all of the excitement that we’ve created, the passion that we saw in the bars and on the streets of Lyon, and the joy that we’ve given our supporters. We play this sport to produce those kinds of emotions. 

You’ve beaten Juventus, then Manchester City and next up, it’s Bayern in the semis. After what they did against Barça, many believe that Lyon are the outsiders. But it would certainly appear as if you rather enjoy that tag.

Yes, we’ve seen what Bayern did, we know all about them, they’re a really great side. As you say, we’ve knocked out some really big teams, the likes of Juventus and Manchester City. That shows that we’re every bit as good as those teams. I’ll say it once again; we continue to work with the utmost humility and we know where we want to end up and will be working to get there. 

How did you react when you saw the result of their game against Barça?

We didn’t expect it. We didn’t expect it because it was the great Barça we’re talking about here. To have been on the receiving end of such a scoreline... The competition, the Champions League, features only the best teams. Their performance against Barça proved that Bayern remain an excellent team and one that mustn’t be taken lightly.

You’re now a game away from the final and your fans are dreaming of you becoming champions of Europe. As a player, is it difficult not to think about that prospect?

Yes, as a young player, it’s difficult not to think about it because I took up this profession to experience moments like these and, as the saying goes, you’ve got to make your dreams come true. That’s exactly what we’re doing at the moment with an incredible group of young players who are living out this dream. It’s fantastic. We’re making the most of the moment. We’re again going to give our all out there and, of course, we’re still hungry.

The Champions Journal team have also produced the Official UEFA Champions League Portugal 2020 Tournament Guide and we’re in the process of putting together the Official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme. You can order your copies, both print and digital, on our sister site european-nights.com now.

Easy spinach pizza crust

Few would have considered Olympique Lyonnais among the favourites when the quarter-final draw was made in early July. Even with a narrow advantage to defend at Juventus in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, the French side had it all to do to get to Lisbon. However, having edged out Juve on away goals, OL produced a tactical masterclass to oust Manchester City in the last eight. With a semi-final against Bayern München looming large, Maxwel Cornet – whose quarter-final opener against City added to his three goals against the English club last season – explains how they did it.

Congratulations. Your scoring exploits against Manchester City are exceptional. How do you explain your success against them?

I don’t know if it’s a success. I’d say it’s due to the daily work I put in. I’m just fortunate; you want to play matches like those against Manchester City every day. Knowing you’re up against great teams like City or Bayern is an additional source of motivation. 

Did you have in mind your past successes against City ahead of the game?

Yes, of course. They’re images engraved in my memory, as scoring twice against Manchester City doesn’t happen every day. I watched my performances against them again. I used the good things I was able to do in that game, even though I wasn’t playing in the exact same position. I did some good things in that game, so I tried to repeat them. What must be remembered from [the quarter-final] is the team spirit and the group cohesion we kept against this team. 

Was that the key in past fixtures against Manchester City too, the cohesion of the squad?

Yes, obviously. They’re key factors to be successful against such sides. If you don’t have that source of motivation, that extra desire that these sides have, you’re definitely out. We showed we had the quality to compete with these sides. It went our way, so we have to keep going, humbly, against Bayern, who are massive opponents.

You scored the all-important first goal. Was it important for Lyon to score first? Is it easier to defend a lead?

Yes, it’s obviously easier when you open the scoring early in the game. It allows you to have the psychological edge over your opponent too. When you know the attributes of this side, with the likes of [Kevin] De Bruyne or [Raheem] Sterling, who can make a difference at any moment, it’s important to score very early in the game and to make things easier for yourselves while aiming at doubling your lead to be more comfortable.


What were you thinking when the ball came to you?

No, the move went very quickly indeed. It was a pass from deep from [Fernando] Marçal, who passed it to Karl [Toko-Ekambi], and I tried not to be surprised; I was following the move, and after the ball came back to me, I saw where the goalkeeper was positioned. I saw that he had come out and had not closed the angle and I struck it first time. At that moment, I didn’t think too much, and I was happy when the goal was then given. 

Were you worried at all while you were waiting for it to be checked?

Of course. There’s that concern that the goal might be ruled out by VAR, so I was happy when the referee pointed to the centre circle. 

Was there again some concern when City equaliser? How did you feel? Was it a blow?

No, no. We were still confident and continued to focus on ourselves. We continued to maintain our defensive solidity because we knew that we had the firepower upfront to add those extra goals. After that, once again, the difference was the players that came on. We saw that Moussa was in a great state of mind and he did us a world of good when he came on, keeping the ball well and getting the goal that put us ahead, and then scoring the second goal that gave us some daylight.

The match could, however, have gone a different way. In the same minute, Sterling missed an open goal and Moussa then scored his second goal, the team’s third. That virtually settled the match.

It’s true that we were fortunate, with that missed chance from Sterling, but you also have to make your own luck. We did everything in that match. We played as one. If the goal to make it 2-2 had gone in, it would have made things more difficult for the end of the match, but luckily for us, he didn’t put it away, and we were able to extend our lead with that goal from Moussa. We played until the very end and didn’t take our foot off the gas, and we were chasing down that qualification. 

You were in the semi-finals of the Europa League three years ago now. How has the squad changed and what impact has the coach, Rudi Garcia, had on the team?

Since then we have come a long way indeed. The team has changed a lot, if not completely. Changes were also made by the institution, the club, with some departures and some arrivals. The coach's arrival did us a lot of good because he's a coach with experience at the highest level and of big games. He instils that in us on a daily basis. It’s the minor details that he gives us which make the difference in big games.


What did he say to you before the quarter-final?

He just told us to enjoy it, because it’s really, really nice to find ourselves at this stage of the competition. We’ve got nothing to lose; we just have to make the most of the present and to play this game as best we can.

The stadiums may be empty but the fans are thrilled with your progress; they couldn’t attend the game but there were party scenes in Lyon. Are the players aware of that?

Of course. We’re playing for our fans, who aren’t able to be with us in the stadium to will us on, but they’ve got their place in the corner of our minds. We’ve seen all of the excitement that we’ve created, the passion that we saw in the bars and on the streets of Lyon, and the joy that we’ve given our supporters. We play this sport to produce those kinds of emotions. 

You’ve beaten Juventus, then Manchester City and next up, it’s Bayern in the semis. After what they did against Barça, many believe that Lyon are the outsiders. But it would certainly appear as if you rather enjoy that tag.

Yes, we’ve seen what Bayern did, we know all about them, they’re a really great side. As you say, we’ve knocked out some really big teams, the likes of Juventus and Manchester City. That shows that we’re every bit as good as those teams. I’ll say it once again; we continue to work with the utmost humility and we know where we want to end up and will be working to get there. 

How did you react when you saw the result of their game against Barça?

We didn’t expect it. We didn’t expect it because it was the great Barça we’re talking about here. To have been on the receiving end of such a scoreline... The competition, the Champions League, features only the best teams. Their performance against Barça proved that Bayern remain an excellent team and one that mustn’t be taken lightly.

You’re now a game away from the final and your fans are dreaming of you becoming champions of Europe. As a player, is it difficult not to think about that prospect?

Yes, as a young player, it’s difficult not to think about it because I took up this profession to experience moments like these and, as the saying goes, you’ve got to make your dreams come true. That’s exactly what we’re doing at the moment with an incredible group of young players who are living out this dream. It’s fantastic. We’re making the most of the moment. We’re again going to give our all out there and, of course, we’re still hungry.

The Champions Journal team have also produced the Official UEFA Champions League Portugal 2020 Tournament Guide and we’re in the process of putting together the Official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme. You can order your copies, both print and digital, on our sister site european-nights.com now.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Few would have considered Olympique Lyonnais among the favourites when the quarter-final draw was made in early July. Even with a narrow advantage to defend at Juventus in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, the French side had it all to do to get to Lisbon. However, having edged out Juve on away goals, OL produced a tactical masterclass to oust Manchester City in the last eight. With a semi-final against Bayern München looming large, Maxwel Cornet – whose quarter-final opener against City added to his three goals against the English club last season – explains how they did it.

Congratulations. Your scoring exploits against Manchester City are exceptional. How do you explain your success against them?

I don’t know if it’s a success. I’d say it’s due to the daily work I put in. I’m just fortunate; you want to play matches like those against Manchester City every day. Knowing you’re up against great teams like City or Bayern is an additional source of motivation. 

Did you have in mind your past successes against City ahead of the game?

Yes, of course. They’re images engraved in my memory, as scoring twice against Manchester City doesn’t happen every day. I watched my performances against them again. I used the good things I was able to do in that game, even though I wasn’t playing in the exact same position. I did some good things in that game, so I tried to repeat them. What must be remembered from [the quarter-final] is the team spirit and the group cohesion we kept against this team. 

Was that the key in past fixtures against Manchester City too, the cohesion of the squad?

Yes, obviously. They’re key factors to be successful against such sides. If you don’t have that source of motivation, that extra desire that these sides have, you’re definitely out. We showed we had the quality to compete with these sides. It went our way, so we have to keep going, humbly, against Bayern, who are massive opponents.

You scored the all-important first goal. Was it important for Lyon to score first? Is it easier to defend a lead?

Yes, it’s obviously easier when you open the scoring early in the game. It allows you to have the psychological edge over your opponent too. When you know the attributes of this side, with the likes of [Kevin] De Bruyne or [Raheem] Sterling, who can make a difference at any moment, it’s important to score very early in the game and to make things easier for yourselves while aiming at doubling your lead to be more comfortable.


What were you thinking when the ball came to you?

No, the move went very quickly indeed. It was a pass from deep from [Fernando] Marçal, who passed it to Karl [Toko-Ekambi], and I tried not to be surprised; I was following the move, and after the ball came back to me, I saw where the goalkeeper was positioned. I saw that he had come out and had not closed the angle and I struck it first time. At that moment, I didn’t think too much, and I was happy when the goal was then given. 

Were you worried at all while you were waiting for it to be checked?

Of course. There’s that concern that the goal might be ruled out by VAR, so I was happy when the referee pointed to the centre circle. 

Was there again some concern when City equaliser? How did you feel? Was it a blow?

No, no. We were still confident and continued to focus on ourselves. We continued to maintain our defensive solidity because we knew that we had the firepower upfront to add those extra goals. After that, once again, the difference was the players that came on. We saw that Moussa was in a great state of mind and he did us a world of good when he came on, keeping the ball well and getting the goal that put us ahead, and then scoring the second goal that gave us some daylight.

The match could, however, have gone a different way. In the same minute, Sterling missed an open goal and Moussa then scored his second goal, the team’s third. That virtually settled the match.

It’s true that we were fortunate, with that missed chance from Sterling, but you also have to make your own luck. We did everything in that match. We played as one. If the goal to make it 2-2 had gone in, it would have made things more difficult for the end of the match, but luckily for us, he didn’t put it away, and we were able to extend our lead with that goal from Moussa. We played until the very end and didn’t take our foot off the gas, and we were chasing down that qualification. 

You were in the semi-finals of the Europa League three years ago now. How has the squad changed and what impact has the coach, Rudi Garcia, had on the team?

Since then we have come a long way indeed. The team has changed a lot, if not completely. Changes were also made by the institution, the club, with some departures and some arrivals. The coach's arrival did us a lot of good because he's a coach with experience at the highest level and of big games. He instils that in us on a daily basis. It’s the minor details that he gives us which make the difference in big games.


What did he say to you before the quarter-final?

He just told us to enjoy it, because it’s really, really nice to find ourselves at this stage of the competition. We’ve got nothing to lose; we just have to make the most of the present and to play this game as best we can.

The stadiums may be empty but the fans are thrilled with your progress; they couldn’t attend the game but there were party scenes in Lyon. Are the players aware of that?

Of course. We’re playing for our fans, who aren’t able to be with us in the stadium to will us on, but they’ve got their place in the corner of our minds. We’ve seen all of the excitement that we’ve created, the passion that we saw in the bars and on the streets of Lyon, and the joy that we’ve given our supporters. We play this sport to produce those kinds of emotions. 

You’ve beaten Juventus, then Manchester City and next up, it’s Bayern in the semis. After what they did against Barça, many believe that Lyon are the outsiders. But it would certainly appear as if you rather enjoy that tag.

Yes, we’ve seen what Bayern did, we know all about them, they’re a really great side. As you say, we’ve knocked out some really big teams, the likes of Juventus and Manchester City. That shows that we’re every bit as good as those teams. I’ll say it once again; we continue to work with the utmost humility and we know where we want to end up and will be working to get there. 

How did you react when you saw the result of their game against Barça?

We didn’t expect it. We didn’t expect it because it was the great Barça we’re talking about here. To have been on the receiving end of such a scoreline... The competition, the Champions League, features only the best teams. Their performance against Barça proved that Bayern remain an excellent team and one that mustn’t be taken lightly.

You’re now a game away from the final and your fans are dreaming of you becoming champions of Europe. As a player, is it difficult not to think about that prospect?

Yes, as a young player, it’s difficult not to think about it because I took up this profession to experience moments like these and, as the saying goes, you’ve got to make your dreams come true. That’s exactly what we’re doing at the moment with an incredible group of young players who are living out this dream. It’s fantastic. We’re making the most of the moment. We’re again going to give our all out there and, of course, we’re still hungry.

The Champions Journal team have also produced the Official UEFA Champions League Portugal 2020 Tournament Guide and we’re in the process of putting together the Official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme. You can order your copies, both print and digital, on our sister site european-nights.com now.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Interview

Bring on Bayern

Having seen off Juventus and Manchester City, forward Maxwel Cornet says Lyon are ready to spring another surprise against the German champions.

Few would have considered Olympique Lyonnais among the favourites when the quarter-final draw was made in early July. Even with a narrow advantage to defend at Juventus in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, the French side had it all to do to get to Lisbon. However, having edged out Juve on away goals, OL produced a tactical masterclass to oust Manchester City in the last eight. With a semi-final against Bayern München looming large, Maxwel Cornet – whose quarter-final opener against City added to his three goals against the English club last season – explains how they did it.

Congratulations. Your scoring exploits against Manchester City are exceptional. How do you explain your success against them?

I don’t know if it’s a success. I’d say it’s due to the daily work I put in. I’m just fortunate; you want to play matches like those against Manchester City every day. Knowing you’re up against great teams like City or Bayern is an additional source of motivation. 

Did you have in mind your past successes against City ahead of the game?

Yes, of course. They’re images engraved in my memory, as scoring twice against Manchester City doesn’t happen every day. I watched my performances against them again. I used the good things I was able to do in that game, even though I wasn’t playing in the exact same position. I did some good things in that game, so I tried to repeat them. What must be remembered from [the quarter-final] is the team spirit and the group cohesion we kept against this team. 

Was that the key in past fixtures against Manchester City too, the cohesion of the squad?

Yes, obviously. They’re key factors to be successful against such sides. If you don’t have that source of motivation, that extra desire that these sides have, you’re definitely out. We showed we had the quality to compete with these sides. It went our way, so we have to keep going, humbly, against Bayern, who are massive opponents.

You scored the all-important first goal. Was it important for Lyon to score first? Is it easier to defend a lead?

Yes, it’s obviously easier when you open the scoring early in the game. It allows you to have the psychological edge over your opponent too. When you know the attributes of this side, with the likes of [Kevin] De Bruyne or [Raheem] Sterling, who can make a difference at any moment, it’s important to score very early in the game and to make things easier for yourselves while aiming at doubling your lead to be more comfortable.


What were you thinking when the ball came to you?

No, the move went very quickly indeed. It was a pass from deep from [Fernando] Marçal, who passed it to Karl [Toko-Ekambi], and I tried not to be surprised; I was following the move, and after the ball came back to me, I saw where the goalkeeper was positioned. I saw that he had come out and had not closed the angle and I struck it first time. At that moment, I didn’t think too much, and I was happy when the goal was then given. 

Were you worried at all while you were waiting for it to be checked?

Of course. There’s that concern that the goal might be ruled out by VAR, so I was happy when the referee pointed to the centre circle. 

Was there again some concern when City equaliser? How did you feel? Was it a blow?

No, no. We were still confident and continued to focus on ourselves. We continued to maintain our defensive solidity because we knew that we had the firepower upfront to add those extra goals. After that, once again, the difference was the players that came on. We saw that Moussa was in a great state of mind and he did us a world of good when he came on, keeping the ball well and getting the goal that put us ahead, and then scoring the second goal that gave us some daylight.

The match could, however, have gone a different way. In the same minute, Sterling missed an open goal and Moussa then scored his second goal, the team’s third. That virtually settled the match.

It’s true that we were fortunate, with that missed chance from Sterling, but you also have to make your own luck. We did everything in that match. We played as one. If the goal to make it 2-2 had gone in, it would have made things more difficult for the end of the match, but luckily for us, he didn’t put it away, and we were able to extend our lead with that goal from Moussa. We played until the very end and didn’t take our foot off the gas, and we were chasing down that qualification. 

You were in the semi-finals of the Europa League three years ago now. How has the squad changed and what impact has the coach, Rudi Garcia, had on the team?

Since then we have come a long way indeed. The team has changed a lot, if not completely. Changes were also made by the institution, the club, with some departures and some arrivals. The coach's arrival did us a lot of good because he's a coach with experience at the highest level and of big games. He instils that in us on a daily basis. It’s the minor details that he gives us which make the difference in big games.


What did he say to you before the quarter-final?

He just told us to enjoy it, because it’s really, really nice to find ourselves at this stage of the competition. We’ve got nothing to lose; we just have to make the most of the present and to play this game as best we can.

The stadiums may be empty but the fans are thrilled with your progress; they couldn’t attend the game but there were party scenes in Lyon. Are the players aware of that?

Of course. We’re playing for our fans, who aren’t able to be with us in the stadium to will us on, but they’ve got their place in the corner of our minds. We’ve seen all of the excitement that we’ve created, the passion that we saw in the bars and on the streets of Lyon, and the joy that we’ve given our supporters. We play this sport to produce those kinds of emotions. 

You’ve beaten Juventus, then Manchester City and next up, it’s Bayern in the semis. After what they did against Barça, many believe that Lyon are the outsiders. But it would certainly appear as if you rather enjoy that tag.

Yes, we’ve seen what Bayern did, we know all about them, they’re a really great side. As you say, we’ve knocked out some really big teams, the likes of Juventus and Manchester City. That shows that we’re every bit as good as those teams. I’ll say it once again; we continue to work with the utmost humility and we know where we want to end up and will be working to get there. 

How did you react when you saw the result of their game against Barça?

We didn’t expect it. We didn’t expect it because it was the great Barça we’re talking about here. To have been on the receiving end of such a scoreline... The competition, the Champions League, features only the best teams. Their performance against Barça proved that Bayern remain an excellent team and one that mustn’t be taken lightly.

You’re now a game away from the final and your fans are dreaming of you becoming champions of Europe. As a player, is it difficult not to think about that prospect?

Yes, as a young player, it’s difficult not to think about it because I took up this profession to experience moments like these and, as the saying goes, you’ve got to make your dreams come true. That’s exactly what we’re doing at the moment with an incredible group of young players who are living out this dream. It’s fantastic. We’re making the most of the moment. We’re again going to give our all out there and, of course, we’re still hungry.

The Champions Journal team have also produced the Official UEFA Champions League Portugal 2020 Tournament Guide and we’re in the process of putting together the Official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme. You can order your copies, both print and digital, on our sister site european-nights.com now.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Few would have considered Olympique Lyonnais among the favourites when the quarter-final draw was made in early July. Even with a narrow advantage to defend at Juventus in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, the French side had it all to do to get to Lisbon. However, having edged out Juve on away goals, OL produced a tactical masterclass to oust Manchester City in the last eight. With a semi-final against Bayern München looming large, Maxwel Cornet – whose quarter-final opener against City added to his three goals against the English club last season – explains how they did it.

Congratulations. Your scoring exploits against Manchester City are exceptional. How do you explain your success against them?

I don’t know if it’s a success. I’d say it’s due to the daily work I put in. I’m just fortunate; you want to play matches like those against Manchester City every day. Knowing you’re up against great teams like City or Bayern is an additional source of motivation. 

Did you have in mind your past successes against City ahead of the game?

Yes, of course. They’re images engraved in my memory, as scoring twice against Manchester City doesn’t happen every day. I watched my performances against them again. I used the good things I was able to do in that game, even though I wasn’t playing in the exact same position. I did some good things in that game, so I tried to repeat them. What must be remembered from [the quarter-final] is the team spirit and the group cohesion we kept against this team. 

Was that the key in past fixtures against Manchester City too, the cohesion of the squad?

Yes, obviously. They’re key factors to be successful against such sides. If you don’t have that source of motivation, that extra desire that these sides have, you’re definitely out. We showed we had the quality to compete with these sides. It went our way, so we have to keep going, humbly, against Bayern, who are massive opponents.

You scored the all-important first goal. Was it important for Lyon to score first? Is it easier to defend a lead?

Yes, it’s obviously easier when you open the scoring early in the game. It allows you to have the psychological edge over your opponent too. When you know the attributes of this side, with the likes of [Kevin] De Bruyne or [Raheem] Sterling, who can make a difference at any moment, it’s important to score very early in the game and to make things easier for yourselves while aiming at doubling your lead to be more comfortable.


What were you thinking when the ball came to you?

No, the move went very quickly indeed. It was a pass from deep from [Fernando] Marçal, who passed it to Karl [Toko-Ekambi], and I tried not to be surprised; I was following the move, and after the ball came back to me, I saw where the goalkeeper was positioned. I saw that he had come out and had not closed the angle and I struck it first time. At that moment, I didn’t think too much, and I was happy when the goal was then given. 

Were you worried at all while you were waiting for it to be checked?

Of course. There’s that concern that the goal might be ruled out by VAR, so I was happy when the referee pointed to the centre circle. 

Was there again some concern when City equaliser? How did you feel? Was it a blow?

No, no. We were still confident and continued to focus on ourselves. We continued to maintain our defensive solidity because we knew that we had the firepower upfront to add those extra goals. After that, once again, the difference was the players that came on. We saw that Moussa was in a great state of mind and he did us a world of good when he came on, keeping the ball well and getting the goal that put us ahead, and then scoring the second goal that gave us some daylight.

The match could, however, have gone a different way. In the same minute, Sterling missed an open goal and Moussa then scored his second goal, the team’s third. That virtually settled the match.

It’s true that we were fortunate, with that missed chance from Sterling, but you also have to make your own luck. We did everything in that match. We played as one. If the goal to make it 2-2 had gone in, it would have made things more difficult for the end of the match, but luckily for us, he didn’t put it away, and we were able to extend our lead with that goal from Moussa. We played until the very end and didn’t take our foot off the gas, and we were chasing down that qualification. 

You were in the semi-finals of the Europa League three years ago now. How has the squad changed and what impact has the coach, Rudi Garcia, had on the team?

Since then we have come a long way indeed. The team has changed a lot, if not completely. Changes were also made by the institution, the club, with some departures and some arrivals. The coach's arrival did us a lot of good because he's a coach with experience at the highest level and of big games. He instils that in us on a daily basis. It’s the minor details that he gives us which make the difference in big games.


What did he say to you before the quarter-final?

He just told us to enjoy it, because it’s really, really nice to find ourselves at this stage of the competition. We’ve got nothing to lose; we just have to make the most of the present and to play this game as best we can.

The stadiums may be empty but the fans are thrilled with your progress; they couldn’t attend the game but there were party scenes in Lyon. Are the players aware of that?

Of course. We’re playing for our fans, who aren’t able to be with us in the stadium to will us on, but they’ve got their place in the corner of our minds. We’ve seen all of the excitement that we’ve created, the passion that we saw in the bars and on the streets of Lyon, and the joy that we’ve given our supporters. We play this sport to produce those kinds of emotions. 

You’ve beaten Juventus, then Manchester City and next up, it’s Bayern in the semis. After what they did against Barça, many believe that Lyon are the outsiders. But it would certainly appear as if you rather enjoy that tag.

Yes, we’ve seen what Bayern did, we know all about them, they’re a really great side. As you say, we’ve knocked out some really big teams, the likes of Juventus and Manchester City. That shows that we’re every bit as good as those teams. I’ll say it once again; we continue to work with the utmost humility and we know where we want to end up and will be working to get there. 

How did you react when you saw the result of their game against Barça?

We didn’t expect it. We didn’t expect it because it was the great Barça we’re talking about here. To have been on the receiving end of such a scoreline... The competition, the Champions League, features only the best teams. Their performance against Barça proved that Bayern remain an excellent team and one that mustn’t be taken lightly.

You’re now a game away from the final and your fans are dreaming of you becoming champions of Europe. As a player, is it difficult not to think about that prospect?

Yes, as a young player, it’s difficult not to think about it because I took up this profession to experience moments like these and, as the saying goes, you’ve got to make your dreams come true. That’s exactly what we’re doing at the moment with an incredible group of young players who are living out this dream. It’s fantastic. We’re making the most of the moment. We’re again going to give our all out there and, of course, we’re still hungry.

The Champions Journal team have also produced the Official UEFA Champions League Portugal 2020 Tournament Guide and we’re in the process of putting together the Official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme. You can order your copies, both print and digital, on our sister site european-nights.com now.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Few would have considered Olympique Lyonnais among the favourites when the quarter-final draw was made in early July. Even with a narrow advantage to defend at Juventus in the second leg of their round of 16 tie, the French side had it all to do to get to Lisbon. However, having edged out Juve on away goals, OL produced a tactical masterclass to oust Manchester City in the last eight. With a semi-final against Bayern München looming large, Maxwel Cornet – whose quarter-final opener against City added to his three goals against the English club last season – explains how they did it.

Congratulations. Your scoring exploits against Manchester City are exceptional. How do you explain your success against them?

I don’t know if it’s a success. I’d say it’s due to the daily work I put in. I’m just fortunate; you want to play matches like those against Manchester City every day. Knowing you’re up against great teams like City or Bayern is an additional source of motivation. 

Did you have in mind your past successes against City ahead of the game?

Yes, of course. They’re images engraved in my memory, as scoring twice against Manchester City doesn’t happen every day. I watched my performances against them again. I used the good things I was able to do in that game, even though I wasn’t playing in the exact same position. I did some good things in that game, so I tried to repeat them. What must be remembered from [the quarter-final] is the team spirit and the group cohesion we kept against this team. 

Was that the key in past fixtures against Manchester City too, the cohesion of the squad?

Yes, obviously. They’re key factors to be successful against such sides. If you don’t have that source of motivation, that extra desire that these sides have, you’re definitely out. We showed we had the quality to compete with these sides. It went our way, so we have to keep going, humbly, against Bayern, who are massive opponents.

You scored the all-important first goal. Was it important for Lyon to score first? Is it easier to defend a lead?

Yes, it’s obviously easier when you open the scoring early in the game. It allows you to have the psychological edge over your opponent too. When you know the attributes of this side, with the likes of [Kevin] De Bruyne or [Raheem] Sterling, who can make a difference at any moment, it’s important to score very early in the game and to make things easier for yourselves while aiming at doubling your lead to be more comfortable.


What were you thinking when the ball came to you?

No, the move went very quickly indeed. It was a pass from deep from [Fernando] Marçal, who passed it to Karl [Toko-Ekambi], and I tried not to be surprised; I was following the move, and after the ball came back to me, I saw where the goalkeeper was positioned. I saw that he had come out and had not closed the angle and I struck it first time. At that moment, I didn’t think too much, and I was happy when the goal was then given. 

Were you worried at all while you were waiting for it to be checked?

Of course. There’s that concern that the goal might be ruled out by VAR, so I was happy when the referee pointed to the centre circle. 

Was there again some concern when City equaliser? How did you feel? Was it a blow?

No, no. We were still confident and continued to focus on ourselves. We continued to maintain our defensive solidity because we knew that we had the firepower upfront to add those extra goals. After that, once again, the difference was the players that came on. We saw that Moussa was in a great state of mind and he did us a world of good when he came on, keeping the ball well and getting the goal that put us ahead, and then scoring the second goal that gave us some daylight.

The match could, however, have gone a different way. In the same minute, Sterling missed an open goal and Moussa then scored his second goal, the team’s third. That virtually settled the match.

It’s true that we were fortunate, with that missed chance from Sterling, but you also have to make your own luck. We did everything in that match. We played as one. If the goal to make it 2-2 had gone in, it would have made things more difficult for the end of the match, but luckily for us, he didn’t put it away, and we were able to extend our lead with that goal from Moussa. We played until the very end and didn’t take our foot off the gas, and we were chasing down that qualification. 

You were in the semi-finals of the Europa League three years ago now. How has the squad changed and what impact has the coach, Rudi Garcia, had on the team?

Since then we have come a long way indeed. The team has changed a lot, if not completely. Changes were also made by the institution, the club, with some departures and some arrivals. The coach's arrival did us a lot of good because he's a coach with experience at the highest level and of big games. He instils that in us on a daily basis. It’s the minor details that he gives us which make the difference in big games.


What did he say to you before the quarter-final?

He just told us to enjoy it, because it’s really, really nice to find ourselves at this stage of the competition. We’ve got nothing to lose; we just have to make the most of the present and to play this game as best we can.

The stadiums may be empty but the fans are thrilled with your progress; they couldn’t attend the game but there were party scenes in Lyon. Are the players aware of that?

Of course. We’re playing for our fans, who aren’t able to be with us in the stadium to will us on, but they’ve got their place in the corner of our minds. We’ve seen all of the excitement that we’ve created, the passion that we saw in the bars and on the streets of Lyon, and the joy that we’ve given our supporters. We play this sport to produce those kinds of emotions. 

You’ve beaten Juventus, then Manchester City and next up, it’s Bayern in the semis. After what they did against Barça, many believe that Lyon are the outsiders. But it would certainly appear as if you rather enjoy that tag.

Yes, we’ve seen what Bayern did, we know all about them, they’re a really great side. As you say, we’ve knocked out some really big teams, the likes of Juventus and Manchester City. That shows that we’re every bit as good as those teams. I’ll say it once again; we continue to work with the utmost humility and we know where we want to end up and will be working to get there. 

How did you react when you saw the result of their game against Barça?

We didn’t expect it. We didn’t expect it because it was the great Barça we’re talking about here. To have been on the receiving end of such a scoreline... The competition, the Champions League, features only the best teams. Their performance against Barça proved that Bayern remain an excellent team and one that mustn’t be taken lightly.

You’re now a game away from the final and your fans are dreaming of you becoming champions of Europe. As a player, is it difficult not to think about that prospect?

Yes, as a young player, it’s difficult not to think about it because I took up this profession to experience moments like these and, as the saying goes, you’ve got to make your dreams come true. That’s exactly what we’re doing at the moment with an incredible group of young players who are living out this dream. It’s fantastic. We’re making the most of the moment. We’re again going to give our all out there and, of course, we’re still hungry.

The Champions Journal team have also produced the Official UEFA Champions League Portugal 2020 Tournament Guide and we’re in the process of putting together the Official 2020 UEFA Champions League Final Programme. You can order your copies, both print and digital, on our sister site european-nights.com now.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

To access this article, as well as all CJ+ content and competitions, you will need a subscription to Champions Journal.
Already a subscriber? Sign in
close
Special Offers
christmas offer
Christmas CHEER
Up to 40% off
Start shopping