Summer vacation’s over already? It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two months since last season ended. In that time, there have been many changes within the club, everything from new faces arriving, familiar ones leaving, and the return of Juninho as sporting director.
But despite the new-look team, all eyes will firmly be fixed on Sylvinho. As the new manager, he must show at least the promise of what he was brought in to do – change Lyon from perennial podium members to actual title contenders. And as this game is the season opener, there is extra pressure to make sure Lyon is off to a good start.
Friday, August 9th, 2019
2:45 PM EST (20h45 CET)
Stade Louis II, Monaco
Pre-season friendlies didn’t go exactly as planned – four losses in five games – but tomorrow is Lyon’s first real test. New players will need to prove what they’re capable of while old ones must prove themselves worthy of a starting spot.
Unfortunately, like most top clubs, pre-season wasn’t as useful as it could have been due to the absence of many international players. Some returned half way through training while others arrived so recently that they have yet to play. To compensate, Sylvinho played many of the younger players, not just the more well-known names like Rayan Cherki but also players like Ousseynou Ndiaye and Héritier Deyonge.
It was a good opportunity for the club to evaluate their talent and to decide whether they would benefit from staying at OL or engaging in a loan elsewhere. A few of them made very positive impressions, notably Boubacar Fofana and Amine Gouiri. There were also good cameos from Maxence Caqueret and Oumer Solet.
It was also a good opportunity to see the older recruits in action. Thiago Mendes, Joachim Andersen, Jean Lucas, and Ciprian Tatarusanu all had significant game time. Only Youssouf Kone was missing due to his participation in the African Cup of Nations.
Unfortunately, fresh faces aside, pre-season showed that Lyon is desperately missing its three departing players in Tanguy Ndombele, Ferland Mendy, and Nabil Fekir. There is a noticeable gap in quality from last season to this one, and while it’s something that may correct itself as the manager and players grow more settled, it’s certainly a problem now.
At the very least, Sylvinho needs solutions in midfield, as it currently lacks the creative touches often provided by Fekir and Ndombele, who despite their lackadaisical attitudes, were very good at creating chances. With the summer transfer window still open for another three weeks, it’s quite possible that the club will bring in another player to add balance to the midfield.
Fortunately for Sylvinho, Monaco is in even more disarray. With the huge influx of arrivals and departures, Leonardo Jardim’s squad has almost been as unconvincing as Lyon this pre-season. While they lost Youri Tielemans, they brought in Benjamin Lecomte and Ruben Aguilar and permanently signed Gelson Martins. With others also on the market, Monaco may lose more players by September.
Lyon’s record at the Stade Louis II isn’t that great, with only 3 wins in the last 10 years. However, this is probably the best time to face them, as Jardim’s squad for tomorrow will be missing several regulars.
Le groupe monégasque: Lecomte, Benaglio – Aguilar, Badiashile, Ballo-Touré, Glik, Henrichs, Jemerson, Naldo, Panzo – Bastiao Dias, Boschilia, Chadli, Fàbregas, Rony Lopes, Gelson Martins, A.Traoré – Foster, Sylla
Good news for Lyon is that Radamel Falcao and Aleksandr Golovin are suspended while Stevan Jovetic, Willem Geubbels, Danijel Subasic, and Pietro Pellegri are injured. Also to note is that while Rony Lopes is in the squad, his move to Sevilla grows closer, and it’s possible he may be left out.
Lyon, on the other hand, have an almost fully stocked team. Only Marçal is out due to injury.
Le groupe lyonnais: Lopes, Tatarusanu – Rafael, Kone, Denayer, Andersen, Marcelo, Dubois, Tete – Cheikh, Aouar, Lucas, Mendes, Tousart – Terrier, Dembele, Traore, Memphis, Cornet
The selected squad is…not surprising. Many fans were hoping to see more of a shakeup with youth, but Sylvinho has chosen to go with senior players who are more experienced. One absence to note is Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who, despite a fairly good pre-season, has been left out. Youssef Kone and Maxwel Cornet are in, although they’ve only been back at training for one week.
L’Equipe is predicting the following lineup (4-3-3):
Dubois – Andersen – Denayer – Kone
Tousart – Mendes – Aouar
Traore – Dembele – Memphis
On one hand, it’s surprising to see Youssef Kone there, but on the other hand, he has to get playing time somehow, and we’ve run out of friendlies. Joachim Andersen and Jason Denayer are the starting hinge, and despite a wobbly pre-season, it looks like Leo Dubois has convinced Sylvinho to start him over Rafael.
In midfield, it’s a bit weird to see Lucas Tousart on the right, as he’s a pure DM and maybe might fit better in a central role? But if the idea is to bring in another midfielder for that position, then it makes more sense to play Thiago Mendes where he’ll be playing long term and hope Tousart does his best. We had been hoping to see Houssem Aouar play more centrally, but in a 4-3-3, there’s no other place for him except on the left.
Up front, Memphis Depay has also indicated he would prefer a more central role, but like Aouar, someone’s gotta be on the left. Bertrand Traore is also expected to start, but depending on what Sylvinho’s mood is, it could easily be Maxwel Cornet.
Also to note, Sylvinho will be announcing who the captain will be tomorrow. In pre-season so far, multiple people have worn the armband, but the three most likely candidates are Lopes, Dubois, and Memphis. Sylvinho also said he may rotate captains, so it’s possible that whoever wears the armband tomorrow won’t be wearing it the following week.
In terms of tactics, Sylvinho has stated again that he doesn’t want fullbacks to attack as much. Pre-season has shown that without the fullbacks there to offer those much needed crosses, Lyon’s attacks are very limp, but hopefully Sylvinho’s plan will work out.
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Monaco 2-2 Lyon. Neither team has showed itself to be attacking powerhouses, with goals struggling to arrive due to disorganized midfields. But thanks to leaky defenses, there will probably be a penalty or two, as well as poorly defended corner kicks. Both teams will share the spoils.