Death. Taxes. And Saki Kumagai scoring penalties for Lyon. For years, those were the three things we could all count on. But nothing lasts forever (except maybe Lyon’s dominance in D1 Féminine), and things took a turn as last season came to a close. Kumagai saw a penalty saved, Coach Pedros began shuffling the deck, and all of a sudden the world’s most lethal team has become decidedly less lethal from the spot.
It’s been three weeks since Lyon’s last Champions League outing, where they had a rather bizarre closed door match against Shakhtar Donetsk. Since then, they’ve been embarrassingly beaten by PSG, had some time off for international week, and then returned for another blah performance against Nimes.
They’ve also been piling on the injuries. As soon as someone’s back on his feet, another one’s getting carried off the pitch. Genesio’s been forced to dip into the youth squad, which is hilarious considering that Lyon is fielding the 4th youngest squad in both the Champions League and Ligue 1.
Lyon’s current form is anyone’s guess. Hoffenheim won’t know what’s coming, but neither does anybody else.
Ajax may be “stronger than grease” but they weren’t stronger than Lyon on Wednesday as OL Féminin picked up a 4-0 win in Amsterdam in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. The titleholders now have one foot in the quarterfinals after goals from four different players carried les Fenottes to a comfortable victory.
If someone scores a goal, and there is no one around to cheer, did it really happen?
This is the kind of existential question that will be answered tomorrow when Lyon welcome Shakhtar Donetsk for their first home Champions League game of the season…to be played in an empty stadium.
UEFA’s punishment is still standing, with Lyon being taken to task for the behavior of some of their fans. Read about the whole sorry mess here. Not only will no one be allowed inside, but the club will suffer a loss of €6m in ticketing and other matchday revenue. The squad has rarely played in empty stadiums and are prepared to soldier on, but both sides will struggle at the silence.
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018
Parc OL, Lyon
3 PM EST (21:00 CET, 20:00 UST)
A 5-0 win for OL Féminin over Avaldsnes on Thursday secured the defending champs’ spot in the Champions League Round of 16. Lyon came into the match with a 2-0 advantage on aggregate after their win in Norway two weeks ago, and recorded goals from each of the front three to avoid any surprise early in the season’s biggest competition.
[We might be paraphrasing a bit, but the sentiment is still valid.]
In the most unsurprising decision ever, UEFA dismissed Lyon’s latest appeal for a reduction in their punishment, which was given for terrible fan behavior during last season’s home match against CSKA Moscow.
Just guess what Lyon’s response was.
That’s right. They’re going to appeal the refusal of their appeal. Is there anything more quintessentially OL than that?
From a purely sporting standpoint, even the most optimistic Lyon fans expect Manchester City to win on Wednesday. In all honesty, this preview should end right here because the game should be a foregone conclusion.
But if there’s one team on this planet that never does what they’re supposed to, it’s Lyon. They lose when they’re supposed to win, they win when they’re supposed to lose. I can’t remember the last time when everything went as planned.
So who knows what Wednesday will bring. After losing to a bunch of relegation-level teams these past two months, Lyon are ready to face one of the best teams in the world.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
Etihad Stadium, Manchester
3 PM EST (21:00 CET, 20:00 UST)