Three-time European Cup winner Brian O’Driscoll believes Saracen’s won’t have enough to see of ASM Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup semi-final clash on Saturday.
The English rugby side travel to France this week- playing at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne.
The game comes a year after Saracens humiliated the French side at the European Champions Cup last season, but this time around O’Driscoll believes it will be Clermont going to the final.
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“Clermont looked a little bit Toulon-esque in previous years where it was just a load of good players playing together and reading each others body language and running great support lines and throwing blind passes, blind offloads and everything stuck," the 36-year-old commented. "You can tell that even they were pretty impressed with themselves. I think Sarries will be under massive pressure to deal with that.”
However, O’Driscoll does think the English side have a chance if they can stay within touching distance in the tie.
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He added: “From Sarries point of view, the reason you stay in the game is you start reminding a team like Clermont of what happened last year where they got blown away.
"For the team that hasn’t won it the psychology is slightly different to a team that has won it. Clermont have been in three semi-finals now in a row, one final but they still haven’t got the medal and that is, psychologically, a big factor and there are extra stresses and strains that come with that.
“They’ve got a good history against Clermont, obviously the semi-final last year, they’ve played them twice this year with a favourable and an unfavourable result so anytime you play Sarries I don’t think you’re going to clean the floor with them but I just fancy Clermont to have too much- particularly in France.”
AWAY FROM HOME
The former Leinster centre explained just why playing away in a different country can have a negative effect on performance:
“It’s definitely an advantage playing in your own country albeit both teams will be out of their own beds. It’s a lovely factor having your own routine as well as eating different food are all mitigating factors towards a result- and obviously from a support point of view there’s going to be more fans than Sarries.”
Saracens go into the game following some impressive form- winning seven consecutive matches. Clermont are unbeaten in two.
The winner will book themselves a place at Twickenham against current champions RC Toulon or Leinster - who will play their game in Marseille on Sunday.
Watch Clermont Auvergne v Saracens exclusively live on BT Sport 1 this Saturday from 2.30pm. BT Sport is the only place to watch top live matches from the European Rugby Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership.