It’s statistically proven that right before and after Champions League matches (and often times, during), Lyon forget how to play football. We’re so used to seeing it that when they do play well, we don’t recognize them.
Seriously, whoever played Toulouse last weekend should be reported for stealing Lyon jerseys.
It’s lucky for Strasbourg, who won the Ligue 1 lottery by getting to play Lyon right before their match against Barcelona match. The Alsatians already knocked them out of the Coupe de la Ligue, so taking 3 points won’t seem like a big deal to them.
Saturday, March 9th, 2019
11 AM EST (17h CET)
Stade de la Meinau, Strasbourg
The players might insist that they aren’t thinking about Barcelona and how Strasbourg is all they care about, but that’s a lie. Visions of Messi molesting them have been constant companions since last December. Their 0-0 draw in the home leg was nothing short of a miracle, but playing at Camp Nou is a completely different story.
Oh look, I did it too. I was supposed to be wring about Strasbourg.
Lyon have played the Alsatians twice this season. Last August, they beat them 2-0, but in January, they lost to them in the Coupe de la Ligue. As usual, Lyon were unable to muster the interest in playing for the cup they had the best chance of winning. But that’s Lyon for you – always doing things the hard way.
Strasbourg are doing better than expected this year. With 37 points, they are 12 adrift of Lyon and are in 9th place. With 9 wins, 10 draws, and 8 losses, they’ve scored 41 goals and conceded 31. Their highest scorer, Lebo Mothiba, has found the net 7 times.
They’ve got a well balanced squad, but their standout player is Kenny Lala, who’s not only making a strong case for Les Bleus but is also tempting many clubs abroad. Their manager, Thierry Laurey, has also been making waves. He’s helped little Strasbourg punch above their weight and has proven to be a saavy manager. This year, they drew with PSG, thumped Monaco 5-1, and kicked both Lyon and Marseille out of the League Cup.
Strasbourg are not afraid of playing the league heavyweights and are unapologetic about how they do it. They won’t try to outplay bigger teams but instead give them no space to move – which, if we’re being honest, is a surefire way to beat Lyon.
They are within sneezing distance of a top 6 finish, but Strasbourg are under no pressure. Their goal was to do better than last season, which they already have. They are favorites for the League Cup and if they win, they’ll play in the Europa League next year.
Lyon, on the other hand, continue to exasperate their fans. Their draw against Barcelona aside, they dropped points against Nice and Monaco, which means they are still 5 points away from Lille. Any more screw ups, and 2nd place will be a pipe dream for Lyon.
With 49 points, they are in 3rd place, with a 5 point cushion between them and 4th placed Marseille. With 14 wins, 7 draws, and 6 losses, they’ve scored 45 goals and conceded 31.
Their highest scorers are Moussa Dembele and Nabil Fekir, each with 9 league goals apiece. Betrand Traore follows with 7 goals. I don’t need to tell you how sad it is that no Lyon player has yet to hit the double digits this season.
Le groupe lyonnais: Lopes, Gorgelin – Rafael, Dubois, Denayer, Marcelo, Tete, Mendy – Aouar, Ndombele, Tousart, Cheikh, Fekir – Dembele, Terrier, Traore, Cornet, Memphis
Rafael and Maxwel Cornet are back, but Jeremy Morel, Marcal, and Amine Gouiri are still injured.
Our friends at L’Equipe are reporting the below lineup as likely:
Dubois – Marcelo – Denayer – Rafael
Tousart – Fekir – Aouar
Cornet – Dembele – Terrier
Well, that’s interesting. Ferland Mendy and Tanguy Ndombele are rested (or possibly punished for playing like crap their last few games). Rafael, who has played as LB before, will take Mendy’s place. In midfield, Lucas Tousart will slot in, but it’s deserved as he’s done well in his last few outings.
Up front, Moussa Dembele continues to be rewarded for his good form, with Maxwel Cornet and Martin Terrier flanking him. Betrand Traore and Memphis Depay will be rested (or maybe also punished – it’s hard to tell with Genesio).
Houssem Aouar, who has not played in Lyon’s last two matches, makes his way back after also being
punished rested. Whatever, fine. But the one name on this lineup I don’t understand is Nabil Fekir. Why isn’t he being rested? He attracts fouls like honey attracts fruit flies. Shouldn’t he be kept safe on the bench so that he’s in perfect condition for Barcelona? Just a thought.
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Strasbourg 2-1 Lyon. I said this was a pessimistic preview, didn’t I? The players are all obsessing over Barcelona and probably think if they drop 3 points, they can make it up later. Which is absolutely not true, but our guys are sometimes not the sharpest tools in the shed.