Nice not Dante-d by trying to do it again
After last season's brilliant third place finish, Nice and their veteran Brazilian captain Dante are aiming high once again. Interview…
Dante spoke before Nice's opening Ligue 1 Conforama loss at Saint-Etienne. "I'm a dreamer, last year I dreamed a lot about the title," he told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "Right up until we no longer had a chance mathematically. I kept saying maybe, just maybe. So every day I would wake up thinking 'work to be a champion, work to be a champion'. But what we did last year was not easy, that was no normal season.
"We're working to be champions again"
"We're working to be Champions again, we're working to be right at the top but you can't guarantee results in football, you simply have to work hard."
Nice's first podium finish since 1976 meant European football returning to the Allianz Riviera this term. After seeing off Ajax, Nice take on Napoli over two legs for a place in the Champions League group stage, a big challenge for the Cote d'Azur side as they look to build on last season's progress.
Dante said: "The important thing is to be conscious of what's ahead of us. We've got a packed schedule but it's up to us to perform in every match. We've known now for the past couple of months that it would be this way, so we have to prepare and do our best."
Unconcerned by departures
While Christophe Jallet and Pierre Lees-Melou have been brought in, Younes Belhanda, Ricardo Perreira and Paul Baysse all departed. The loss of three big names however, is of no concern to the 33-year-old.
"Last year, the club lost Valere Germain, Nampalys Mendy and Ben Arfa. Did people think on the 31st August that Nice had strengthened? No. People didn't anticipate the arrivals of Dante, Balotelli, Belhanda so that's why it's hard to say. There is a great atmosphere here, and that is really important for the new boys, so they can fit in and show what they're capable of."
With Lucien Favre at the helm, the former Champions League winner is certain that Nice are in the right hands.
At Nice for Favre and a Bielsa admirer
"It's no secret that if I am here it is because he convinced me to come. I would compare him to Jupp Heynckes or Pep (Guardiola). I think he is only missing that chance at a big club to show his qualities even more. He has incredible tactical knowhow."
And Favre's reputation could help Nice attract the biggest talents, in a league that the Brazilian international believes is rapidly improving.
"Right now, there are lots of very good players wanting to come to France. There are great coaches here like Ranieri and Bielsa. I am a fan of Bielsa. I read his book, honestly it's impressive. What Ranieri has achieved is impressive too. There will be many, many clubs wanting to have a big season and it won't be easy for us."