EletiofeWomen's Champions League last-eight team guides – No 6:...

Women’s Champions League last-eight team guides – No 6: Lyon


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It is not a coincidence that Lyon are the team to beat. They have won the last four Champions Leagues and are the most complete and best balanced team in Europe.

The head coach, Jean-Luc Vasseur, prefers to play in a 4-2-3-1 with the experienced Sarah Bouhaddi in goal. Wendie Renard is a rock in central defence even though she is currently without her normal sidekick, Griedge Mbock, who is out with an achilles injury. Kadeisha Buchanan, the Canada international, is a very able deputy.

For the full-back positions Lyon have Lucy Bronze, the best right-back in the world, and can pick from Selma Bacha, Alex Greenwood or Sakina Karchaoui, who has arrived from Montpellier, on the left.

Saki Kumagai and Amandine Henry are tasked with shielding the defence in their midfield roles with Amel Majri and Eugénie Le Sommer occupying the wide positions. Dzsenifer Marozsan, as always, is the creative force in the middle. In Ada Hegerberg’s absence, Nikita Parris has become Lyon’s main goalscorer.

Technically and tactically astute, the Lyonnaises are also mentally strong. “My players are extraordinary in their ability to control emotions. They have victory in their DNA,” Vasseur said recently after winning the Coupe de France. The players have an ability to question themselves each season and find the motivation to win more trophies. “When you get on the pitch, you want to be the best, to score as many goals as possible,” says Le Sommer. “We have the talent and the intelligence of the players, and in my opinion the best are in Lyon, but we have always strived to be successful as a collective, that is what make us so strong.”

Which players have the club signed this summer and can use from the quarter-finals?

Jean-Michel Aulas, the Lyon president, convinced Bouhaddi and Marozsan to extend their contracts for four and three years respectively and the club also managed to keep Bronze and Greenwood until the end of the Champions League. Then, as usual, they recruited smartly with Sara Gunnarsdottir, Jodie Taylor, Karchaoui and Ellie Carpenter all joining the already strong squad.

The goalkeeper Lola Gallardo was another new arrival but tested positive for Covid-19 and is unlikely to feature in Spain.

Lyon’s Lucy Bronze drives at the Juventus backline on 15 August.
Lyon’s Lucy Bronze drives at the Juventus backline on 15 August. Photograph: Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Head coach

Vasseur, 51, will long remember his first season at the helm of Lyon, which is also his first experience with a women’s team. Before coaching OL, he worked for 10 years with the PSG men’s reserves, then in Ligue 2 and Ligue 1 with Reims. “They provide me with a Formula One,” he said of the club when he started. “I will humbly be the pilot of this high precision machine on which I will only have to do a few touch-ups.” His philosophy: “Play well, go forward and score goals.”

Star player

At 30, Renard has become a key figure at Lyon. The Coupe de France victory against PSG was her 30th title with OL. Apart from being one of the best defenders in the world, she also scores a lot of goals. Since her debut for OL in 2006, she has scored 115.

Did you know ?

The captain of the France team, Henry, has had some exceptional experiences in recent years. In July 2019, for example, she was able to fly with the Patrouille de France on National Day and last December, she fulfilled a dream by being president of the Miss France jury. “It’s the world of fashion; of beauty and that’s what I love,” she said.

Lyon’s Nikita Parris and Jessica Silva
Lyon’s Nikita Parris and Jessica Silva. Photograph: Michael Regan – UEFA/UEFA/Getty Images

Who could surprise everyone in Spain?

Parris has stepped up to lead the Lyon attack. The England forward is fulfilling her role wonderfully and has showed that she is in good form recently (six goals in five friendlies and the only goal in the Coupe de France semi-final against Guingamp). Her performance in Spain will be decisive in Lyon’s attempts to win a seventh Champions League.

What is the realistic aim for Lyon in the WCL?

Vasseur’s team are the favourites to win again.

European pedigree

With six titles won, OL are the most decorated team in the competition’s history. The Lyonnaises have won the tournament in 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 and reached the final in 2010 and 2013.

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