Ajax 2-2 Nice
August 3, 2017
FAVRE: 'IT'S FANTASTIC'
After seeing his team qualify for the Champions League play-off, Lucien Favre faced the media to praise the performance of his side against a "very strong" opponent and look forward to the challenges ahead.
How many minutes did you hold your breath for?
I don't know, I didn't count [laughs]. There was reason to, because they're a very good team. In terms of their play today, they were very good. Over the two games, and especially the one today, we made our own luck. To draw 2-2 here is magnificent. They're a team that played a European final against Manchester United and had 67% possession. Even though they lost, that means something. They always try to play. At 2-1, they were going through, but they kept playing and playing. That allowed us to have space and score the equaliser. We had to be very patient, because if it had gone to 3-1, it would have been over. At 2-1, everything was still possible. In those situations, you have to stay calm. That's what we did. We always believed we could do it, and then the goal came. It's not bad to draw 2-2 in Amsterdam.
Especially given Ajax won all their home matches during the Europa League last season.
Yes, it's not bad. It was very very tight because they were really good. We suffered, even more than that. We relaxed defensively after going in front. We thought that it was just going to come like that. We learned to our cost: as soon as you leave space, it's very very very dangerous, because they're very good tactically, physically and technically. They are highly-trained players with great one-on-one qualities on the flanks. There are also the midfielders, who can score from 25 metres. They have great qualities, but we're the ones who went through.
The Gym is assured of a place in European competition. What is that going to change?
Firstly, we're going to enjoy this. It's fantastic. Especially after the first leg (1-1) when everyone said that it was "going to be difficult", and in the end we've qualified. But it's true that we have some work to do in terms of our rhythm, our touch, our technique etc. There is a lot of work to do, because things could have turned out differently this evening. But we have gone through and that will boost us a bit. It does us good. We're looking forward to the draw tomorrow. We mustn't forget that the league also starts soon, at Saint-Etienne (Saturday, 5 August, 21:00CEST). Afterwards, the season is underway. We want to thank the fans who came, because they were incredible. We saw them at the hotel etc. To travel like that in midweek, it's great.
'SNOW IN NICE'
What did you think of Vincent Marcel's performance?
This evening, there must be snow in Nice: he scored with his right foot! [laughs] That's just to make fun of him, because he's got great qualities. It's very positive. He scored two weeks ago against Gladbach [2-1 win in a friendly], with his left. It's great. He's been in the Nice youth academy and he's the one who scores the equaliser. It's extraordinary. That will ramp up his confidence. It's not only good for the team, but also for him. That counts.
What was your team able to call on to get them through?
Solidity. We can defend well. We left too many holes after going 1-0 up. That's a big mistake against a team like that. Against any team, in fact, you can't relax even just a bit. But we held on. It's hard when you concede the equaliser and then go behind. It was a tidal wave at times. We needed to stay calm and united to keep it at 2-1. We knew everything was still possible and that they would start to have some doubts. Perhaps they did, and we scored a second. We qualified because we stayed very solid, very compact, and we always believed it was possible to score goals at Ajax.
'WE WON'T BE GETTING ANY GIFTS'
Does this qualification mean your team has taken a step up?
Yes, for those here, in terms of confidence, that's clear. To qualify here against Ajax, that boosts the team. Now, you have seen there is stil a lot of work to do, if we look at both matches. In terms of technique, physique, determination, recovery, intensity etc. We have qualified, but I think that you learn something every day. We have to take advantage of that.
Do you have a preference for the draw?
I don't know who we can draw [Napoli, Sevilla, Liverpool, Sporting Portugal or CSKA Moscow]. We won't be getting any gifts. It's difficult. In the meantime, things will happen, we'll see.