Ligue 1: Losing speed, Lyon in search of alternatives

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Descended from the Ligue 1 podium last weekend, Olympique Lyonnais will try to bounce back on Sunday (9 p.m.) at home against Angers. Coach Rudi Garcia must find a new lease of life to relaunch his team when it comes to the final sprint.

Descended from the Ligue 1 podium last weekend, Olympique Lyonnais will try to bounce back on Sunday (9 p.m.) at home against Angers. Coach Rudi Garcia must find a new lease of life to relaunch his team when it comes to the final sprint.

. The limits of rotation

Qualifying on penalties Thursday for the Coupe de France at the Red Star, sixth in the National, while the Lyonnais led 2-0 at halftime, is not likely to reassure. Nor to offer Rudi Garcia real alternatives, while his workforce deplores several injuries.

Goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, full-backs Maxwel Cornet and Léo Dubois, striker Tino Kadewere were absent in Saint-Ouen and are not certain of returning to face Angers. Only Islam Slimani, back from suspension, is sure to be there.

Algerian Lyon striker Islam Slimani dribbles Malian Reims defender Fodé Doucouré during their L1 match on March 12, 2021 at Auguste-Delaune stadium in Reims

FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI – AFP/Archives

The Algerian center forward, a potential alternative to the usual holders, has yet to prove that he can upset the hierarchy successfully installed in the fall. This is also the case for the young Rayan Cherki (17), once again very insufficient at the Bauer stadium.

. What solutions for OL?

Sometimes criticized for his conservatism, Garcia actually has no real choice, especially when it comes to composing his attacking trio. It will therefore have to be inventive, probably through an evolution of the device.

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On Thursday, he went from his traditional 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 with the Brazilian Paquetà as playmaker in support of Memphis Depay. The wings were occupied on the right by Maxence Caqueret, rarely disappointing, and on the left by Cherki.

“It worked well. I liked Paquetà who scored Depay and gave him a third base ball. He played more attacking in a supporting position for Memphis that seems to suit him,” Garcia commented soberly.

. The executives in question

Like all teams, OL are dependent on their major players and the Lyon team’s rebound will most likely depend on the state of form and the investment of Paquetà and Depay, above all, able to train behind them the rest of the team.

Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta (r) and Dutch striker Memphis Depay, each scoring one goal against Angers, in the Coupe de France round of 16, April 8, 2021 at the Bauer stadium in Saint-Ouen

Lyon’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta (r) and Dutch striker Memphis Depay, each scoring one goal against Angers, in the Coupe de France round of 16, April 8, 2021 at the Bauer stadium in Saint-Ouen

FRANCK FIFE – AFP

But if the Brazilian equalized in Lens and opened the scoring against Red Star, the Dutchman has not scored in Ligue 1 since February 19 in Brest (3-2), that is to say for five days.

The return phase of the championship is less successful for the former Manchester United player, with three goals scored out of the fourteen he has scored this season in L1 (9 assists).

At the end of the contract this summer, it will be necessary to see if he is more concerned with his departure for a more prestigious team like Barcelona or with the search for his new personal equipment supplier, rather than with the outcome of the season in Lyon. And also if he wants to, possibly, play on the left wing rather than center forward.

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But, beyond the individual performances, the collective must also regain its virtues of the autumn and manage to deliver full matches, without being satisfied with a good period out of two.

Olympique Lyonnais coach Rudi Garcia during the L1 home match against Stade Rennais on March 3, 2021 at Groupama Stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon

Olympique Lyonnais coach Rudi Garcia during the L1 home match against Stade Rennais on March 3, 2021 at Groupama Stadium in Décines-Charpieu, near Lyon

PHILIPPE DESMAZES – AFP/Archives

“This is where the shoe pinches today. At 2-0 at the break, the match should have been over. We have to be more killer. The Lyon attack scores in every game, but we have to defend a little better . We conceded two more goals against the Red Star, “complained the coach, whose side have conceded at least one in nine of their last ten outings.

. Can Lyon lose everything?

Seven days from the end, OL occupy the worst place in the leading square with a view to the Champions League, which Jean-Michel Aulas’ club hopes to find a year after reaching the semi-finals. His dynamics are not the best and he will have to raise his current level to hope to achieve it.

The Lyonnais will be able to have a relatively affordable schedule, but they will nevertheless have two summits to negotiate in quick succession against the current leader Lille, at home on April 25, then at Monaco (3rd) the following week.

By Francois-Jean TIXIER / Lyon (AFP) / © 2021 AFP

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