With Lyon’s preseason halfway complete, the team will need to step up as they begin facing tougher opponents. Their performances so far against FC Sion (2-2 draw), Fulham (4-0 win), Huddersfield (4-1 loss), and Wolfsburg (2-1 win) have been unconvincing snooze fests. Their next three opponents are Benfica, Inter Milan, and Chelsea, whose teams will pose a considerable challenge even as friendlies.
The tournament they are participating is called the Internationals Champions Cup. By invite only, it’s basically a handpicked group of 18 clubs that the organizers feel can generate the most ticket sales (Lyon were included when Sevilla dropped out). Clubs can earn between €3m to €6m per game (loser vs winner). Each club plays three others, and in the event of a tie, it will go to penalties. At the end of the tournament, the club with the most points wins.
Even though these are friendlies, it’s provided some dramatic match ups so far. Barcelona gets to play Roma (awkward), Real Madrid will play Juventus (awkward), and Manchester United got trounced by Liverpool.
Wednesday, August 1st
Estadio Algarve, Algarve
4:05 PM EST (22:05 CET, 21:05 UST)
The biggest news from both teams is that Lyon are locked in a tight battle to sign Benfica defender Ruben Dias. Lyon have supposedly offered €30m for him, which Benfica is pushing back on, as his release clause is set to €45m.
Interestingly, Dias is on the list of players that Benfica manager Rui Vitória can call up for tomorrow’s match. He’s on Benfica’s team sheet, and it is expected that he will play. No word if negotiations will have concluded by then (either OL buys or backs out), but it will be nice to see him in action against his potential new team.
Unlike Lyon, Benfica have had a more active transfer market. They’ve sold a few players, most notably João Carvalho to English Championship (tier 2) side Nottingham Forest. They have two new CBs as well, plus another one who is returning from a loan stint.
Is that a sign???
Benfica were runners up to FC Porto in the Portuguese Liga, which means they missed out on automatic qualification for the Champions League. They will need to enter the 3rd qualifications round, where they will be facing Fenerbahçe. The winner will advance to the Champions League group stage.
Benfica squad: Svilar, Bruno Varela, Odysseas – Conti, Grimaldo, Luisão, Rúben Dias, Yuri, Lema, Jardel, André Almeida, Luís Pinheiro – Fejsa, Cervi, Alfa Semedo, Zivkovic, Salvio, Pizzi, Samaris, Rafa, Keaton Parks, João Félix, Gedson Fernandes – Jonas, Seferovic, Ferreyra e Castillo
Lyon and Benfica have met only a handful of times. A friendly back in 2000 and one in 2016. They also met in the Champions League group stages in 2010, where Lyon defeated them on aggregate.
The club announced that Nabil Fekir will return to training on Monday, August 6th. Anthony Lopes just returned a few days ago, so neither will be expected to play in the remaining friendlies. In fact, whether Fekir will ever play for Lyon again is still up in the air…
There are some notable changes in the list of players Bruno Genesio has chosen for today’s game. Yassin Fekir, Maxence Caqueret, and Oumar Solet, all part of the squad against Wolfsburg, were left out. Mariano Diaz, who was not included last time due to muscle pains, is back in. You know who is also missing from this list? Marçal is left out again, due to “pain.”
Le groupe lyonnais: Gorgelin, Racioppi – Dubois, Marcelo, Martins-Pereira, Mendy, Morel, Rafael, Tete – Aouar, Diop, Ferri, Ndombele, Tousart – Cornet, Mariano, Memphis, Terrier, Traoré
I’m going to be honest with you guys, this Marçal thing is getting super weird. He’s been recovering from what is basically an imaginary injury for a month now. If it weren’t for Rafael’s instagram stories, I wouldn’t even know if he was still alive. I have my theories (Lyon are trying to push him out of the squad), so we’ll see how long the club will try to fool us.
I’m very disappointed that Maxence Caqueret was not included in the squad. He’s been one of the highlights of the preseason and frankly has been more convincing in midfield than Jordan Ferri and Lucas Tousart. Which is embarrassing because they’re ten years older and outweigh him by 50 pounds.
It looks like the CB pairing will be Marcelo and Jeremy Morel, with Christopher Martins-Pereira (let’s just call him CMP from now on) to come on for one of them. The good news is we’ll be seeing more of Pape Cheikh Diop, who’s been looking pretty good.
I’m guessing we’ll see something like this to start with:
Dubois – Morel (blah) – Marcelo – Mendy
Ndombele – Tousart – Ferri (blah) – Aouar
Traore – Mariano
Up front, Bertrand Traore is a definite starter. If Genesio wants to field his strongest team, he’ll also start with Tanguy Ndombele. That means either Mariano or Memphis Depay can start. Memphis has been quite good in preseason (if ultimately goalless), but Mariano needs time as well. Both will play, but who will start? Genesio will be tossing a coin most likely. I will guess Mariano.
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I’m guessing 2-1 because OL aren’t playing that great these days, but if Lyon’s attacking lineup can’t manage at least two goals, they should be voted off the island.