It’s been a week of champagne and chocolate. Last Wednesday’s entirely unexpected win at Manchester City, coupled with this weekend’s win over Marseille, has revitalized a Lyon side that’s struggled with form since August.
Their unconvincing season start against Ligue 1 bottom feeders Nice, Caen, Reims, Strasbourg, and Amiens – taking 7 points out of 15 – convinced both fans and pundits alike that Lyon would be lucky even to qualify for next year’s Europa League. But as usual, Lyon proved once again that they play better against bigger opponents.
Which is TERRIBLE because their next opponent is Dijon, a team that plays the kind of football that Lyon just don’t know how to deal with. It’s not going to be easy going from champagne football to sandwich toppings, and if any team can mess it up, it’s Lyon.
Wednesday, Septermber 26th, 2018
Stade Gaston Gérard, Dijon
1 PM EST (19:00 CET, 18:00 UST)
Dijon is relatively new to Ligue 1, so they haven’t played Lyon that many times. Besides two encounters when both clubs were in Ligue 2 (30 years ago!), Lyon has visited Stade Gaston Gérard only 3 times, with 2 wins and 1 loss.
Overall, Dijon is known for being an attacking side. Last season, they ranked 5th in the number of goals scored. Both of their games against Lyon were highly entertaining affairs, with the match at Lyon ending in 3-3 and the match at Dijon ending in 2- 5 (for OL). There were a total of 32 goals in the six matches between the two sides.
This season is no different. They are in 7th place with 9 goals scored and 6 conceded. Lyon are fractionally above them in 6th place, with 10 goals scored and 6 conceded.
Last season, they ended in a very respectable 11th place. They’ll be hoping the same for this year as they seek stability above all else. European qualification is still quite a bit aways, but if they can continue solid mid-table finishes, they’ll increase their revenue and can think of more robust signings in a year or two.
This past season, they’ve done a good job at keeping their side together. They lost their goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet to Toulouse, but they replaced him with the very handsome Icelander, Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, from FC Nordsjælland. They’ve also purchased Naïm Sliti, on loan from Lille, for €2m. Fans will remember Sliti, who scored 3 goals against Lyon last season.
However, their most talked about transfer was signing free agent Yoann Gourcuff. The once highly rated midfielder was brought in more for his experience than ability, as he has only played 42 minutes across all 6 games. It will be interesting to see if he features against OL.
Le groupe dijonnais: Allain, Rúnarsson – Aguerd, Alphonse, Ciman, Haddadi, Lautoa, Rosier, Yambéré – Abeid, Amalfitano, Gourcuff, Loiodice, Sliti – Jeannot, Keita, Saïd, Tavares
Dijon is looking forward to the match and is excited to play OL. Their coach, Olivier Dall’Oglio, has promised to continue their attacking mentality and will strive to take advantage of any gaps and spaces. They aren’t the type to sit back and defend, and they aren’t looking to start now.
After the criticism and malaise Lyon has experienced these past few weeks, they’ve been enjoying the more positive coverage in the last few days – no one more than Bruno Genesio, who’s gone from pariah to savior. Lambasted for nearly two years for his tactics, he’s now being hailed as the real Pep.
However, he was quick to put a stop to the celebrations, pointing out quite rightly that Dijon would be a tougher prospect for OL than either Manchester City or Marseille simply because Lyon have a hard time showing up against smaller teams. It’s been remarked that the more possession Lyon has, the worse they do, which is terrible given who the majority of their opponents are.
Dijon will be an interesting challenge because while they are a small team, they aren’t afraid to punch above their weight and are likely to play the kind of open football that Lyon like. Then again, they must also realize that the best way to win against OL is to pull a Caen, so we’ll see if Dall’Oglio stays true to his promise.
Lyon Team News:
This is OL’s third match in the space of 7 days, so players will be tired. But it doesn’t end here – they’ll continue the pace of a game every 3 days for the next two weeks. After Dijon, they’ll be playing Nantes, Shakhtar, and PSG before getting a full week break.
Squad rotation should be on the forefront of Genesio’s mind, so he will need to take advantage of the second deepest bench in Ligue 1. We should see players rested or even left out for certain games while players from the reserve are brought in.
Le groupe lyonnais: Lopes, Gorgelin – Morel, Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal, Tete, Dubois, Rafael – Aouar, Ferri, Ndombele, Tousart, Diop – Depay, Traoré, Pintor, Dembélé, Terrier
Big news is that both Ferland Mendy and Nabil Fekir are left out due to aches and pains. Nothing serious, but Genesio will give them an opportunity to rest. Additionally, Maxwel Cornet also picked up a slight knock and will miss out. More shocking is that Marçal finally makes his way back onto the squad. Not gonna lie, I thought for sure he was dead, given the way the club was acting about him.
Jordan Ferri and Kenny Tete, neither of whom have yet to play a single minute this season, return to the group. Joining them is new signing Lenny Pintor, the exciting youth prospect that has been lighting the reserve team on fire.
I don’t dare attempt reading Genesio’s mind, but for me personally, I would be ok with something similar to this lineup:
Dubois – Marcelo – Denayer – Rafael
Ferri – Tousart – Aouar
Traoré – Dembélé – Terrier
With Mendy out, and with Marçal not having played at all this season, either Rafael or Leo Dubois will play on the left. Genesio has experimented with both players in that position, and while neither have looked great, I think Rafael has had more experience as a right-back.
In midfield, both Tanguy Ndombele and Houssem Aouar have played two full matches in the past week, so while both need to be rested, I’m guessing it will be Ndombele, who may come on as a second half substitution for Aouar. Pape Cheikh should also be rested, so perhaps Lucas Tousart will take his place.
Up front, Betrand Traoré should be rewarded for his great form with another start while Moussa Dembélé should play alongside of him. He hasn’t had the chance to impose himself, so what better time than now? On the left, that leaves either Martin Terrier or Memphis Depay. While Memphis would usually be a better choice, he hasn’t been great in his last few matches, and he may be benched in favor of Terrier, who needs playing time.
Dijon 2-3 Lyon!