Giuly, madly, deeply
Friday, 09 January 2004
By Matthew Spiro
The striker (second left) got on the scoresheet against Deportivo
It has been an unusually successful season for French clubs in the UEFA Champions League with both AS Monaco FC and Olympique Lyonnais reaching the knockout stages of the competition. For Ludovic Giuly's Monaco, it is proving to be a similarly stirring season at home.
The principality side take on second-placed Lyon - aiming for their third consecutive Ligue 1 title - on Friday. Should Monaco triumph, they would take a ten-point lead at the top of the table which could prove a shattering blow for Paul Le Guen's side.
Giuly was formerly a Lyon player
Monaco coach Didier Deschamps has been helped in his task by the brilliance of former Lyon player Giuly, a French international who spent the first four years of his career at the Stade Gerland. With eleven goals this season, and countless assists for team-mates Fernando Morientes and Dado Pršo, he has made himself one of the biggest names in French football and put himself at the top of the wish list of Europe's leading clubs.
The 27-year-old believes that much of the credit for his improvement should go to Deschamps. "There is no doubt he has helped me take my game to the next level," Giuly told uefa.com. "The most important factor for me is the way we get looked after between matches under Deschamps. He is always emphasising the importance of recuperating properly - making sure the players get massages and look after their bodies - and that has allowed me stay fresh from week to week."
Giuly also believes Deschamps's tactical awareness has been an influential factor in the season, citing the decision to move him from the right wing to inside forward as an example. "When he asked me to play up front I was surprised at first because it's not my normal position and I wasn't sure it would work," Giuly said. "But then I started scoring goals and really enjoying the role. Now I'm grateful to him for giving me that chance."
It was from that central attacking position that Giuly starred in the record-breaking 8-3 Champions League victory against RC Deportivo La Coruña in November. But while the result shocked most observers in Europe, Giuly was not completely surprised. "I knew at the start of the season that we had a strong group," he explained. "We did well last year with a very young team and we were all confident that if everyone stayed in the summer we could do even better this season."
Giuly acknowledges, however, that Monaco might struggle to hold on to their top players as a result of their exploits in Europe. "This is always a problem that French clubs face," he said. "In England, top clubs have continuity because they can keep a core of six or seven players over five years. Arsenal [FC] can hold on to [Thierry] Henry, [Patrick] Vieira and [Robert] Pires, for example, while Manchester [United FC] also make sure their important players stay. It won't be easy, but that is what we have to try to emulate.
"We still have a lot to achieve as a group," he continued. "We want to go as far as we can in the Champions League and, of course, we want to win the French championship. Most of the players in our squad have never won the title." Victory against Lyon would represent a giant step towards changing that, and should Deschamps manage to fend off offers for players like Giuly during the summer, even greater triumphs could be yet to come.