OGC Nice boss Lucien Favre was his typically circumspect self as he insisted hopes of a Champions League group-stage berth are still alive despite the 2-0 defeat – including two red cards – against Napoli on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

UEFA Champions League play-off, first leg

 SS Napoli  2 – 0  OGC Nice 

Maurizio Sarri (SS Napoli coach): “At this stage of the season, you could say we played a good match. Against a side who were in better physical shape than us, it was a risky match. It was their fourth official match of the season and our first. We didn’t put away enough of our chances – we hit the post and the cross-bar. But our physical condition isn’t optimal and it’s difficult to play in such temperatures. The team is still creating chances; we just need a bit of lucidity and precision to put more of them away. We weren’t expecting them to line up with three at the back, even though we knew it was a possibility. But we have the experience necessary to take on different systems.”

Lucien Favre (OGC Nice coach): “We could have avoided the two red cards, but still I think they were a bit severe. It’s a shame to finish with nine men, but what’s great is that we held out, because if it had gotten to 3-0, the tie would be over. Right now we still have hope. Wed did well playing with three at the back. We turned in a good performance, nothing more – and we conceded too many chances. They caught us out with some one-touch play and we struggled to close our lines. They’re a well-oiled machine and clearly play very, very good football. Still, we had a few chances in the first half, and if we had put one away, it would have changed everything. We have a lot of work to do. I don’t know whether [Mario] Balotelli and [Wesley] Sneijder will be ready for Saturday’s match [at home to EA Guingamp in Ligue 1 Conforama]. It’s possible but not certain.”

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