Claude Puel : “We're going to play a semi-final”
The General Manager of the Verts is tackling this match against Gent (this Thursday at 6:55 pm) like a make-or-break match that must drive his team towards a finale against Wolfsburg this upcoming December 12.
ASSE has not yet achieved a victory this season in the UEFA Europa League but you remain positive…
Yes, you must be. I take the matches one at a time and the competitions, one at a time. The objective is to advance no matter the outcomes. What is certain, is that we’ll give it our all tomorrow, like we’ve done since I’ve arrived. I’ve never had anything to reproach my players for. I want them to give it their all.
Do you consider this match against Gent to be a finale?
We’re going to play a semi-final, since in the event of a positive outcome, we’ll still have to play a decisive match against Wolfsburg, which is to say a final. But the stakes do not change how we prepare for a match. When we consider a match, we do not focus on the purpose but rather on the manner in which we must win. What counts, are the components we put in place to win, especially quality of performance and intensity. We have to make sure everything is in order.
What is your judgement of your adversary, Gent, winner in the first leg?
It’s a quality team. They’re technical, but know also how to make the difference in dead ball situations thanks to players that know how to perform well with not only their feet but their heads as well. To be brief, it’s a well-stacked team that plays with a game system, the 4-4-2 in the diamond shape, which I consider to be ambitious. La Gantoise deserved its victory in the first leg, but I hope that we’ll be more productive this time.
Before a European match, is your message to your players different?
Not necessarily. I simply remind them that it’s all together that we must accomplish something tomorrow. It’s in solidarity that we can hope to qualify. I sometimes say that the UEFA Europa League is a competition that demands much energy from players with the series of matches Thursday-Sunday, but our desire is to play every three days, and for as long as possible.