Genesio hails Valbuena character

Bruno Genesio has praised Mathieu Valbuena's strength of character after a tough 12 months off the pitch for the Lyon midfielder.

Valbuena was the subject of an alleged blackmail attempt over a sex tape in November 2015, a plot that saw his France team-mate Karim Benzema charged with complicity.

The 32-year-old was also subject to a string of recent posts from Twitter trolls claiming he had died, a claim quickly addressed by Lyon - the club calling it "a shameful and inhuman act".

Amid all that chaos, on the pitch Valbuena has continued to be a first-team regular for Lyon, and Genesio believes his behaviour sets him apart from many of his contemporaries.

"Mathieu Valbuena has surprised me," Genesio told a media conference ahead of Lyon's Champions League clash with Sevilla.

"He's shown great character and proved that he's mentally stronger than the average player. He's been attacked from all sides and he's responded in the best way - on the pitch. 

"He's mentally fresh and physically fresh and the best illustration of that is the two goals that he has scored. I'm happy for him and it's a real plus for the team."

Valbuena and Lyon host Sevilla on Wednesday knowing they must win by two goals or more to progress from Group H at their opponents' expense.

And Genesio has called for calm from his players ahead of the clash, reminding them to take their time in plotting Sevilla's downfall.

"The players are even more open to what we say to them than usual because of what's at stake," he added.

"We need to win by two goals and we have 90-95 minutes to do that. We must not think that we need to do all the work right at the start of the game."

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