Fourth And Goal: Weary Lyon Eye Another UWCL Title

OL Féminin are on the brink of a fourth straight UEFA Women’s Champions League title, a feat unseen in either the men’s or women’s game since Real Madrid swept the first five men’s titles to close out the 1950s. A star-studded showdown with FC Barcelona awaits. But do les Fenottes have enough left in the tank to bring the treble back to Lyon?

With just days to go before the big show, we’re checking in on how the teams got here, key storylines, and players to watch.

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Podcast: Episode 4 – Game of Thrones, Lyon Edition

Forget the television phenomenon–the most stressful battles of the year will be happening on the pitch, as OL Féminin attempt to defend their European hegemony against a Barcelona squad somehow playing the role of plucky underdog. Meanwhile, the men are fighting for a Champions League berth without some important defensive stalwarts. Sam (@OZOL1950), Arianna (@AScavs), and Nick (@NicholasMamo) break down the battle plans as we head toward the season finales.

Have a listen below! You will also find timestamps for specific topics if you’d like to jump around. If there are any topics you’d like us to cover, just tweet at any one of us, or you can send an email to LyonOffside@gmail.com.

Topics Covered:

  • UEFA Women’s Champions League Final
    • Barcelona’s path to the final (0:40)
    • Pressure on Reynald Pedros? (5:55)
    • Consistency in results (10:00)
    • Majri moving on? (17:15)
  • De Facto Finals in Ligue 1
    • Motivation for the final sprint (23:00)
    • Strength of schedule compared to ASSE (30:10)
    • Short-staffed on defense (39:00)
    • Champions League berth at stake (45:45)
  • Mercato Predictions
    • Fekir/Memphis/Ndombele/Mendy – Choose 2 (52:15)

Cover photo via Dominique Mallen (@dommal38)

Award-Deserving Anthony Lopes (And the Defense He Has to Thank for It)

Lyon currently sits third in Ligue 1, just one point ahead of Saint-Étienne. That point could be the bare minimum to stay ahead of the local rivals as Lyon is behind in goal difference. The culprit: Lyon has the tenth-worst defense in Ligue 1. Paradoxically, Anthony Lopes is nominated to win the UNFP Best Goalkeeper award, and he would be a deserving winner.

Cover: L’Équipe

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Bruno Genesio: Anatomy of a Crash-and-Burn

It made for a pitiful sight. On Saturday afternoon, Bruno Genesio presented himself at a press conference to announce his decision – no longer Jean-Michel Aulas’ decision, but his – that the 2018/2019 season would be his last at the helm of Olympique Lyonnais.

Genesio was all alone; there was no Jean-Michel Aulas, who had had his back for years on end. Against Dijon and Nantes, it seemed even the players were no longer behind their coach anymore.

As for the supporters, many had abandoned him long ago, and with good reason. Lyon had the second-highest operating budget in Ligue 1 at €285M, but you would not know it by watching them play. On Saturday evening, they found themselves in third place deservedly behind Lille.

Genesio’s press conference brought to an end a will-they-or-won’t-they saga surrounding his future at the club. It was a drawn out story, unworthy of a club of Lyon’s stature – a tale that, much like Genesio’s own tenure, should have ended far earlier than it did.

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The revolving door comes to a halt?

Benzema, Lacazette, Martial, Tolisso, Ben Arfa, Umtiti, Fekir, Aouar, Lopes etc… Okay! We get it! The Olympique Lyonnais academy conveyor belt’s ability of producing quality footballers, gift wrapped and ready for a high level international career is well documented, and to quote Moussa Dembélé #IfYouDontKnowNowYouKnow! Around the academy is an incredibly successful recruitment cell led by OL’s secret weapon and chief recruiter Florian Maurice, whose ability to still find hidden gems at low prices in this modern age of football is both astounding and vital to the OL DNA and its ongoing success.

Despite only Anthony Lopes and Nabil Fekir left at the club (Jordan Ferri is currently out on loan to Ligue 1 club Nîmes Olympique), supporters and onlookers have become accustomed to the revolving door of exciting young talent passing from the academy through to the first team. Youngsters at the club are drawing more and more attention from supporters and the footballing world alike as the next big talents.

The strong generation of Ferri, Lacazette, N’jie, Grenier, Fekir, Umtiti, Tolisso, Benzia, Plea and Lopes, most of whom came into prominence during Rémi Garde’s tenure as coach between 2011-14 came to fruition during the 14-15 season under new coach Hubert Fournier. Fournier himself greatly benefited from the trust that Garde was somewhat forced to place on the academy players coming through at the time. Since these players came through, there had been a frustrating gap in quality between the reservists and the first team causing OL to rely more on canny and smart recruitment. Now it’s far different, the current crop of u19 players (not to mention a handful of 15/16 year olds), are already starting to knock on Genesio’s front door for a first team place.

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Women’s International Round Up: Red, White & Bleue

France put an end to top-ranked USA’s 28-game unbeaten streak, Shanice van de Sanden racked up the air miles, and Jess Fishlock is a superhero. As the teams turn the corner for the final stretch before the World Cup kicks off, we’re catching up on all the international break action from the stars of OL Féminin.

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Champions League Draw and Other Irrelevant News

It’s Barcelona.

Blah.

To be fair, any of the teams Lyon could have drawn in the Round of 16 would be a difficult challenge, but I really didn’t want to see Eric Abidal’s face again. Now I’ll have to suffer through multiple pre-match interviews where he’ll talk down about his old Lyon days. Can’t wait.

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