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Cushing: We trust our gameplan

PRESS CONFERENCE: Nick Cushing addresses the media

PRESS CONFERENCE: Nick Cushing addresses the media

Nick Cushing insists Man City Women have no intention of changing their gameplan for the Champions League semi-final visit of Lyon.

The Blues host the European title holders in the first leg of their last four clash on Saturday (2pm), in their first season in the competition.

Although Cushing admits the French outfit are amongst the world’s best Club teams, he believes his side have nothing to fear and are relishing the challenge.

“The players are excited,” he declared. “Of course, it’s a Champions League semi-final.

“Preparation has gone really well and training has been good. We have all the players we want to pick from and we can’t wait to get the game going.

“We’re aware they’re a really good team – they’re the current holders. We’ve prepared for ourselves performing really well. We’re aware of their strong points but also their weaknesses.

“We’ve prepared to go out and play at the level we’ve played at for the last two seasons.”

City defeated Zvezda Perm, Brondby IF and Fortuna Hjorring to reach the semi-final stage.

While Cushing concedes his side are inexperienced, he has urged them to draw on their previous displays and lessons.

He continued: “In our Champions League campaign, we’re young. Every game we’ve played, we’ve grown in experience and maturity.

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“I look at this game in two ways: we’ve prepared for a really exciting Champions League semi-final and we’re highly motivated but we’re also aware there’s no pressure on us.

“Yes, they’re the holders – everyone perceives they’re the best team and we have huge respect for them.

“I would love to get to a Champions League final. I isolate every game. I’m confident in my ability to prepare for games and I’m supremely confident in the players’ ability.

“Look at the squad… 90% have played in Olympic finals, World Cup finals or semi-finals, FA Cup finals… We have players that have the mentality to play in big games. They have to draw on that experience.

“Nobody expects us to beat Lyon and get to the final. That means our players can go out and play without fear, replicating the performances they have put in, in previous big games.

“We’ve learned that there are no bad teams in this competition. Every team comes with a real desire to get through and they’ve all had plenty of Champions League experience.

“We’ve grown in every round in the experience of travel and playing against teams for which we don’t know the team or the style.”

With the tie over two legs, Cushing could be forgiven for switching his attacking approach for a more defensive one– but the City boss asserts the thought never entered his mind.

“For me to ask this team to play for a draw or play not to lose, would be to almost tear up our blueprint from the past three seasons,” he explained.

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“From the outside, this is the biggest challenge we’ve faced. Lyon have a wealth of quality across the squad – they have 29 contracted players and 28 of them are internationals that play in their team.

“That doesn’t concern us – our main concern is that we’re the best version of ourselves.

“What will happen at the end of the games will be but we’ll know where we’re at. There is no better way to know that than by playing the team that is perceived as the best.

“We need to keep improving.

“Big players want to play in big games and they put big in performances. We trust in our preparation and our style of play.

“I can feel in the squad that the players just want to play the game and enjoy it.

“We want to play beautiful football, get as many fans in as we can and entertain them. I hope the gate is another big one and we put a performance on that encourages them to come back for the Spring Series. That is the bigger picture.

“If we’re the best team on the day, we’ll win.”

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Parris: You dream of playing in these games

FORWARD THINKNG: Nikita Parris sprays the ball across the pitch

Nikita Parris is counting down the minutes to Man City Women’s Champions League semi-final clash with Lyon.

Nick Cushing’s side face the three-time European champions over two legs in their first season in the competition, kicking off with Saturday’s home tie at the Academy Stadium.

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Man City Women and Hays sign partnership deal

NEW PARTNERSHIP: Hays and Man City Women

Man City Women are delighted to announce a new deal that sees Hays become Official Recruitment Partner.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people, is expanding its already strong relationship with City Football Group by partnering with the double title winning side.

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Man City Women v Lyon: Three Lyon players to watch

LYON: The French side celebrate during last season's Champions League final victory over Wolfsburg

Man City Women head into uncharted waters on Saturday when they welcome reigning European champions Olympique Lyonnais to the Academy Stadium but who should they be wary of?

Lyon are widely regarded as one of the most lethal teams across the continent and their haul of 29 goals in six matches on their run to the final four aptly demonstrates that.