Just like Toulouse before them, Olympique Lyonnais will be partaking in a clean sweep of fixtures this evening against Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 of the Coupe de France. Having already met in the league and the Coupe de la Ligue, this will be the fourth meeting of the season before the final clash in the league later this month. We also met in the Trophee des Champions in Montreal for the curtain raiser in which we won 2-0. But, that does not have a patch on the 5-1 demolition we inflicted on Les Gones at the Parc des Princes.
That game epitomised the gulf in class between the two teams. Yet, it was only a year ago we were both vying for the title and at one point it looked as if Lyon would go on to clinch an eighth Hexagoal. It was not until we found our form after the 4-2 defeat in Bastia during January where the tide began to turn. That was pivotal! We won every league game in the running to the clash at the Stade de Gerland against Lyon where we salvaged a vital 1-1 draw. The rest as they say is history.
Even though they are a staggering 33-points behind us in the league, they still have a realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League and would love nothing more than to knock us out of the cup.
They have improved since the 5-1 defeat. That was demonstrated when they came to the Parc last month in the League Cup. Coach Laurent Blanc had his say in yesterday’s pre match presser. As quoted by the club’s official site, he said; “Lyon were very good at the Parc des Princes (League Cup). They were very strong technically and they looked to play some good football. Now they’re higher up the league table and they have grown in confidence. They’re performing well at the moment and will be very motivated to win on Wednesday. I hope it will be a great match. We have a lot of respect for Lyon, but we want to win this match.”
Javier Pastore, Marco Verratti, Presnel Kimpembe and Ezequiel Lavezzi are the notable absentees from the squad. The latter Lavezzi looks set for a move to China although a decision has not been made from either party. David Luiz was a doubt having felt some pain in his knee and thigh. The Brazilian caused a stir in Marseille with his refusal to come off the pitch for Marquinhos. His coach cleared up the situation yesterday by saying; “After what happened, we had a long discussion, and I left it feeling satisfied. It was indispensable in order to continue to have a good relationship between us. It was important that we both had a chance to clear things up, for me, him and the whole squad.”
Nevertheless, it is an interesting statement from LB. There had never been an inkling of discontent between the player and coach before. In fact, it was always perceived to be the opposite. Who could forget that embrace they had after the game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season?