Olympique Lyonnais manager Rudi Garcia said winning the tactical battle with Pep Guardiola’s side had been the key to his team’s surprise 3-1 win in the Champions League quarter-final on Saturday.
The victory sends Lyon, who finished seventh in the French league, into a clash with German champions and tournament favorites Bayern Munich in Lisbon on Wednesday.
“With Pep, you can expect anything. We knew that Pep could concoct something to cause us problems. But in the end, I think we won the tactical battle in the sense that we’ve mastered our tactical system, even if I changed it (during the match),” said Garcia.
Lyon were able to exploit the space left in midfield by Guardiola’s decision to play an extra defender and when City reverted to their normal, attacking formation, the French side punished them on the break.
“I’m experiencing a lot of happiness right now ... when I see the joy in the dressing room, I tell myself that I’m in the right,” he said.
“You can’t stop when you’re on such a good path. It’s not the night to talk about Bayern, but we’re only in the semi-finals, we’ve still got a few steps to go,” he said.
Garcia left striker Moussa Dembele on the bench but the former Celtic forward responded with two goals after coming on in the second half.
“It was a disappointment for Moussa not to start, but I told him, he was going to be very important when entering. Salvation came from the bench,” he said.
Dembele’s goals prompted wild scenes on the streets of Lyon on Saturday as fans gathered in the city Centre, dancing and lighting flares to celebrate their victory over pre-match favorites City.
“It was a complicated game against a very great team. For a player, there is always a little bit of sadness to start on the bench, but I made a difference,” Dembele told French television.
“We made the promise to give everything. The spirit of the group has changed, we know that we are a great team.”
Lyon’s surprise victories over Juventus and City came after the French season was halted in March and, unlike most European leagues, did not resume.