Amiens SC are hosting OL on Wednesday night in the round of 16 in the Coupe de la Ligue. Coming off the high of qualifying for the Champions League round of 16, most OL fans can be forgiven for not highlighting this match in the calendar with great importance.
Lyon’s first, last and only trophy in the Coupe de la Ligue came in 2001. In fact OL are more of the bridesmaids of the competition rather than the bride, as they equal AS Monaco with the most runners up “trophies” since the current competition started in 1994. Tonight OL can start their romantic journey to become the unsuspecting bride or simply be another ugly “one-match-stand”, to suppress into the subconscious memory bank.
Wednesday, December 19th
Stade de la Licorne, Amiens
Amiens SC have already begun their Coupe de la Ligue campaign, defeating FC Metz in the round of 32, 2-1. Currently experiencing “second season-itis”, they will be hoping for a decent cup run this year to give themselves a much needed boost of confidence. Currently Amiens are struggling in Ligue 1 as they sit just above the relegation play-off position, while boasting the second worst defence in the league.
Last season they established themselves as a resolute team capable of digging in and defending together as a unit. This season it’s been quite the opposite story in defence as they continue to invite danger and concede goals to all teams they oppose. Since their last meeting with Lyon at Parc OL – losing 2-0 – they had most notably boosted their midfield with the surprise signing of ex-Santos FC starlet Ganso (Neymar’s Santos FC partner in crime) on loan from Sevilla.
Since the Brazilian’s arrival he has struggled to really make a huge impact in Ligue 1, failing to supply Moussa Konaté with the service he was spoilt with last year playing in front of Gaël Kakuta. After falling out with the club over a week ago, his chance of featuring again for Amiens seems unlikely. With some talk suggesting that his contract with Amiens may have already been terminated. Nevertheless without him, Amiens may be lacking this playmaker for some kind of inspiration to avoid an early exit. Despite his struggles he was still the main player with the quality likely to create something against OL, given that Blin and Gnahoré aren’t known for their playmaking prowess in the final third… should Amiens get there.
The predicted starting eleven for Amiens SC 4-4-2:
El-Hajjam, Gouano, Dibassy, Lefort -
Monconduit, Gnahoré, Blin, Mendoza -
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For Lyon, the Coupe de la Ligue has been seen as an opportunity to watch the young reserves have a kick around with the professionals. Last year Lyon lost this fixture in a 4-1 thumping away to a strong Montpellier team. While the need for rotation was needed then, Genesio admitted himself that his team selection was wrong and too inexperienced to take anything from that match.
Tonight promises to be different as Genesio plans to take advantage of OL’s depth, while balancing youth and experience in a new-look 3-4-3 formation. All eyes will be on young Maxence Caqueret, who signed his first pro contract this week. Predicted to start on the bench with fellow promising midfielders Cheikh Diop and Ndiaye, Caqueret possesses a unique profile not dissimilar to Barcelona legend Xavi. He is definitely a more than exciting addition to the professional group. We were all put under his spell during the pre-season where his array of quality passing from deep positions and tenacity to win the ball left our salivary glands craving more.
Summer signing Moussa Dembélé is likely to get the start he is so desperate for, after struggling to chain the matches so far this season and unable to cement his place in the starting eleven. He is still a luxury profile to have in the squad and should benefit from a good cup run.
Other notable players in the starting eleven are 18 year old powerhouse Oumar Solet in defence, Leo Dubois back from injury to play in the right wing back position and the talented Martin Terrier to support Dembélé out wide and in attack. Solet will join the beast Denayer and Marçal who has made his new position in defence his own in recent weeks.
The predicted starting eleven for OL 3-4-3:
Solet, Denayer, Marçal-
Dubois, Tousart, Ndombele, Mendy-
Traoré, Dembélé, Terrier
Most fan focus will be placed on these guys as many have been calling for a lot of these names to feature more frequently in the rotation. Despite this match not attracting the same attention as the Champions League and Ligue 1, there’s sure to be plenty of attraction still, as OL look to challenge for a domestic cup trophy, while showcasing some more of the academy’s finest young talents ready to break their way into the limelight.
A little more complicated than it suggests on paper, this match is more than winnable if the desire is there. Amiens do not come into this match with great confidence, and like many perceived smaller teams, they will look to sit deep and crowd OL out of their box. Normally not a bad tactic considering OL’s recent struggles against low blocs; the last match against Monaco proved the danger of allowing OL to camp in front of your box with the “U-tactic of death”, which embarrassed a tentative defence. Amiens… you have been warned.
Allez les Gones!!!!