Posts Tagged ‘Lyon’
“A bloated payroll, allied to the failure to qualify for the Champions League and diminishing income from television rights, meant that Lyon had no choice but to slash their wage bill in the summer. [Jean-Michel] Aulas sounded the alarm, declaring that it was time for the club’s “pharaohs” and “changing-room dinosaurs” to move on, and by the time the transfer window closed earlier this month, Hugo Lloris, Aly Cissokho, Kim Källström, Ederson, John Mensah and club captain Cris — among others — had all departed.”
This week’s Pitchside Europe blog, on how Lyon have made a steady start to the season despite a summer of Ligue 1 upheaval, can be read here.
“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain closed to within two points of Ligue 1 leaders Montpellier by overwhelming second-bottom Sochaux 6-1 at a sun-splashed Parc des Princes on Sunday.”
My AFP round-up of the weekend’s Ligue 1 action, including a stirring comeback by Lyon that kept their faint hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive, can be read here.
“PARIS — An extra-time goal by substitute Brandão gave Marseille a 1-0 win over Lyon at Stade de France on Saturday that allowed them to claim the Coupe de la Ligue for a record third successive season.”
My AFP match report on Saturday’s Coupe de la Ligue final can be read here.
“PARIS — Champions Lille closed to within four points of top spot in Ligue 1 by winning 2-1 at home to Toulouse on Sunday and saw their grip on third place further strengthened by Lyon’s 1-1 draw at Rennes.”
My AFP report on the weekend’s Ligue 1 action, including an important win for Lille and another setback for Paris Saint-Germain, can be read here.
“LYON, France — Lyon secured a slender advantage in their Champions League last 16 tie with APOEL FC by beating the Cypriot underdogs 1-0 in the first leg at Stade Gerland on Tuesday.”
My AFP match report on Lyon’s 1-0 victory over APOEL on Tuesday can be read here.
It is a measure of Lyon’s progress under Rémi Garde that Wednesday night’s 1-0 loss at Caen could be shrugged off as a mere inconvenience. Garde allowed himself a rueful smile during a pitchside interview after the match as he admitted he had been perplexed by his side’s sluggish approach to the game and in the subsequent press conference he was equally equanimous, likening the defeat to “a little kick up the bum”.
This time last year, Lyon had won just one of their first seven games and slipped into the relegation zone after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of their great rivals Saint-Etienne in the 100th Derby du Rhône. Disgruntled fans had begun to string up banners calling for Claude Puel’s dismissal in eye-catching locations across the city and although OL recovered to finish third, the mood scarcely improved.
Twelve months on and, despite having lost the last unbeaten record in the division at Caen, Lyon find themselves in third place, two points off top spot ahead of tomorrow’s game with Bordeaux. More importantly, Stade Gerland has become a happy place. Garde has galvanised the squad and has Lyon playing a brand of expansive, attack-minded football that has quickly won him the approval of the fans.
Strikingly, the turnaround has been effected without a single major summer signing and despite the fact several of OL’s most impressive performers were on the brink of leaving the club during the transfer window. Kim Källström looked destined for Galatasaray, Aly Cissokho was reportedly close to joining Liverpool and Michel Bastos spent the summer waiting for a call from Juventus that never came despite months of eyelash-fluttering from La Vecchia Signora.
“PARIS — Eleven points separate Lyon and Marseille after OL defeated their title rivals 2-0 on Sunday to go top of Ligue 1 and consign Didier Deschamps’ hapless side to the bottom of the table.”
You can read my round-up of the weekend’s Ligue 1 action for AFP here.
A peculiar tactical phenomenon has been witnessed in France in recent months. In a microcosm of global trends that have shaped the game over the course of the last decade or so, Ligue 1′s top sides have all – without exception – begun to ditch their preferred formations in favour of a 4-2-3-1.
Marseille, whose title and Coupe de la Ligue successes last season were founded on a pragmatic 4-3-3 shape, were the first team to make the switch. For the crucial Champions League group game at Spartak Moscow in November, Mathieu Valbuena was moved infield from the right flank and allowed to adopt the central playmaking role that he covets. Didier Deschamps wanted to capitalise on the fact that Valbuena “is very accurate with his shooting” and the France international proved as much in the 18th minute when he put OM ahead with a precise, curling effort into the top-right corner. Marseille went on to win 3-0, in what was their most coherent performance of the season to date, and their 4-2-3-1 continues to emerge for high-pressure encounters, such as Sunday’s 2-1 defeat of Paris Saint-Germain.
Another team synonymous with the 4-3-3 in recent years has been Lyon. Towards the end of the first half in their 4-1 win at Saint-Etienne last month, however, Yoann Gourcuff was allowed to advance a little further forwards and occupy the role of the classic number 10 that was his at Bordeaux. With Jérémy Toulalan and Kim Källström retreating into deep, central positions, it meant Lyon were playing a 4-2-3-1 and Claude Puel reflected that it gave the team “a certain balance”.
The switch brought the best out of Lisandro López, moved to the left flank in support of central striker Bafétimbi Gomis, in much the same way that André-Pierre Gignac’s best form for Marseille has coincided with the times when he has played from the left in support of Brandão. Occasionally isolated when used as lone strikers, both López and Gignac appear to relish seeing more of the ball and both men are particularly adept at cutting inside and shooting at goal with their stronger right feet.
“LYON, France — Karim Benzema scored against his former club Lyon to earn Real Madrid a 1-1 draw here on Tuesday that puts them in a strong position to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.”
My AFP match report can be read here.
“PARIS — A late Anthony Modeste header earned Bordeaux a 1-1 draw at home to Marseille on Sunday and ensured the 2009 French champions avoided defeat in their first game since the sale of Yoann Gourcuff.”
My Ligue 1 round-up for AFP can be read here.
Rarely can a team have qualified for a Champions League final as easily as Bayern Munich did against Lyon.
“Has anyone seen a Champions League semi-final?” asked one wag in the Stade Gerland media centre after Tuesday’s hopelessly one-sided semi-final return leg. “I was told there’d be one here but I couldn’t see it.”
Comprehensively outplayed in both legs, Lyon’s limp performance over the tie was an appalling advertisement for French football and in the grim post mortem of the after-match analysis there was no disguising the simple fact that Claude Puel’s side had been beaten by a far superior team. Time and again in his post-match press conference, a shell-shocked Puel returned to the theme of Bayern’s remarkable physical capacities.
“Their physicality, the quality of their play, their control of possession… They are a complete team,” he said. “They are physically strong and never let their rhythm drop. It became very, very difficult for us.”
With 53 minutes to play and their opponent a man down in last night’s Champions League semi-final first leg in Munich, Lyon spurned the chance of a lifetime simply by failing to react. Franck Ribéry’s dismissal handed the visitors the initiative in a huge and unignorable way, but rather than reacting, Claude Puel’s side froze.
Ribéry’s sending off ultimately served only to highlight Lyon’s lack of tactical flexibility. Set up to be compact and strike on the counter-attack, as they did so magnificently against Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bordeaux earlier in the competition, when initiative and imagination were required they were found lacking.
Puel failed to do anything to exploit Ribéry’s absence. When Lyon returned to the field after the interval they did so in the same 4-1-4-1 they had adopted at the start of the match, with Lisandro López and the wide players César Delgado and Ederson working hard but with no-one taking a grip of the game in the middle of the pitch. Miralem Pjanić made some tentative forward forays but just nine minutes into the second half Jérémy Toulalan, unfortunately, saw red and the chance was gone.
Bayern, spared, sensed the momentum swinging back in their favour and they, crucially, capitalised by making changes. With Anatoliy Tymoshchuk anchoring the midfield after coming on for Ivica Olić, Bastian Schweinsteiger took it upon himself to push forward in support of Thomas Müller and Louis van Gaal profited from the change in tempo by introducing Mario Gómez to provide a focal point for the Bayern attack.