‘We have to raise our game’: Pierre Sage challenges Lyon players to up their level

Olympique Lyonnais coach Pierre Sage has called on his players to up their game ahead of Saturday’s trip to FC Lorient. The match will see 11th placed Lyon face 13th placed Lorient in a high-stakes game that Sage conceded could be a season-defining six pointer: 

“You could see it like that. They are a direct rival in the relegation battle. The idea is to get to closer to 35 points. If we get three points at Lorient and manage to put a bit of distance between us and them, all the better, but I think we’ll survive if we manage to reach 35 points.”

Both teams are on great form, winning four of the last five matches in all competitions, and the Lyon manager is notably wary of their threat: 

” They’ve changed their squad a bit. It’s a team that works hard over a whole match. Regis le Bris is a manager that I know well personally, he just needed time. There was a lot of upheaval in his squad last winter, this summer with changes on and off the field, new players arriving. He has made improvements over time and we’re starting to see really positive things. That’s good for him, it shows his good work. In terms of the game itself, Lorient are capable of keeping possession and we will need to close off the space high up the pitch.

We will have to be able to break them down when we get the ball, they’ll play in a similar way to how Strasbourg did in the Coupe de France, and we all remember the issues we had to knock them off balance. It’s a challenge at this level. We need to be at our best and raise our game. They’ll be fresh, they’re in a similar situation to us in the league. “

Lyon have been drawn at home against Valenciennes FC in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France, with the tie set to be played on April 2. With the visitors 20th in Ligue 2, conventional wisdom would suggest that the home side are heavy favourites, something that coach Pierre Sage is keen to refute: 

“Everyone thinks this is the best draw, but I personally think it’s the worst. The only thing I’m satisfied with is playing at home in front of our supporters. I, like the players and staff, want to come together with the fans again but to do that, we’ll have to win the game beforehand. Why is it the worst draw? Because Valenciennes have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

We have to be careful in matches like these, we’ll have to be at our best. To do that, we’ll have to prepare by playing well in our league game beforehand, to allow us to approach this game in the best way. When you go to play in Paris for example, it’s an achievement if you win, but we have to win this game against Valenciennes. It’s not won in advance, we’ll have to win it on the field. 

There are injury doubts over Alexandre Lacazette, Orel Mangala and Nicolas Tagliafico for the encounter, with all three to be assessed ahead of kick off on Saturday. 

GFFN | Jack McArdle




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