Leaving Geoffroy-Guichard’s lawn on Saturday evening, after beating Saint-Étienne (3-2), the first reflex of Clermont Foot players, when they returned to the locker room, was to connect to the Ligue 2 multiplex, which the first day was broadcast on the L’Équipe channel. “We saw that we weren’t there, smiles Clermont midfielder Jason Berthomier (31). It feels weird but it’s these little things that make us realize (that they are in Ligue 1). »
Promoted this season in the elite, the Auvergnats carry out an almost perfect preparation, started with a success against Troyes (2-1), the champion of Ligue 2. They have chained on 2 draws, against Rodez (2-2 ) then Grenoble (1-1), residents of the lower floor, but, quickly, the machine started again, against Montpellier (3-2), the UNFP team (2-0) and so Saint-Étienne this Saturday. “We know each other by heart, we play together, we know who is going to do what, what to do, says Berthomier, delighted that the preparation is going well. This will not bring us to the Champions League, that’s not what I mean, but we can see that we manage to compete with these Ligue 1 teams. “
Despite this unbeaten run, Berthomier and his teammates are aware that the season ahead will be of a different ilk. “We are boys thoughtful enough to know that in a fortnight it will be different, he assures. But it is reassuring and auspicious. If we had lost our 3 matches (against Ligue 1 teams) and that we had been “turned around” during the 3 matches, we would certainly ask ourselves questions. There is still room for improvement, that’s what is interesting. “
Claude Puel, the coach of Saint-Étienne, was visibly impressed by a team he judges “Ready” for Ligue 1. “We see that there is cohesion, quality, even when they are under pressure, they are able to play, to carry danger, to do interesting things, Puel believes. We feel that this is a team that wants to start very strongly. They are already dense, physically, they already have more respondents than us. “
“We do not tend to panic when we are led”
Pascal Gastien, the Clermont coach, also appreciated his team’s performance at Geoffroy-Guichard and praised the courage of his team, who did not “Recoiled from danger. “ « You learn a lot from a match like this, assure guests. The pace at the start of the first half was very high. They left very strong. We gradually came back to the game. It was interesting and rewarding. ” Even though her players made mistakes and dangerous ball losses, like the one that led to the Greens’ first goal, Gastien liked the way she defended and found all of her players. “At a correct level”. « We still have a fortnight to refine things and increase in intensity ”, adds the coach.
Mentally, the promoted also showed that he was strong by coming back to the score and then passing in front of the scoreboard, as was already the case against Montpellier. “There is the mental aspect but also a tactical aspect, clarifies Pascal Gastien. In general, the teams rush and take 2nd base. There, we came back quite logically in the game. We know we are capable of doing it. “ Berthomier shares the analysis of his trainer and completes it. “We have a group, team, collective strength, which means that we do not tend to panic when we are led, adds the midfielder. We know that to get back to the score, you need calm, resume the game on your own. »
Next Saturday, Clermont will play its last preparation match against Nantes, another Ligue 1 team, against which Gastien hopes to see his team increase in intensity. The players are “Excited” (Berthomier) at the idea of discovering Ligue 1, in which 90% of the workforce has never evolved. “There is serenity because the group is unchanged, our way of life is the same, says Berthomier. The coach is calm and peaceful which puts us in good condition. We know that it goes through this: work and humility. If we ignite, we will quickly get slapped but we are gaining confidence. ” To be much more than the king of friends.