Fresh off of their run to the Champions League semi-finals, Lyon returned to Ligue 1 action against Dijon. It was a game in which Lyon was expected to win, and win they did as they beat Dijon 4-1. Even though this was an emphatic win, it should have been much more with the number of chances Lyon had.
It was an excellent return to league action for Lyon, and it should be a sign of things to come for this upcoming season. Ahead of their next game against Bordeaux, here are the issues that they should look to address.
Key Points for Lyon to Improve Ahead of Trip to Bordeaux
Change to Tactical Set-Up
Lyon set up a 3-4-1-2 formation, and this formation worked perfectly against Dijon. They created numerous chances against Dijon’s deep block. This was due to the amount of space that was created on the left-wing, due to Memphis’s tendency to drift towards there. This meant Dijon’s right-back had to mark him, which led to acres of space for Maxwel Cornet, Lyon’s left wing-back.
Against Bordeaux, Lyon may not set up in this formation due to the return of Houssem Aouar to the starting line-up. However, if Lyon do set start in this formation against Bordeaux, it will be much harder for them to break down their opposition. Bordeaux have kept clean sheets in both of their Ligue 1 games so far. They are also a better attacking unit than Dijon. With the Likes of Josh Maja and Jimmy Briand upfront, they pose a much bigger threat than Lyon’s first opponent.
Even though Les Girondins kept clean sheets against Angers and Nantes, teams of much lower attacking quality than Lyon, they will still be tough to break down. Bordeaux’s defensive unit is spearheaded by Laurent Koscienly and Paul Baysse at centre-back. This experienced centre-back duo is much less likely to concede the needless penalties Dijon conceded against Lyon. Moussa Dembele will have to be on top form against Bordeaux as chances will be at a premium against them.
The Importance of Memphis Depay
Ever since Memphis Depay came from Manchester United, the talented Dutchman has taken many steps in his development. As a result of this development, he is now one of Ligue 1’s best players. He has matured from an inconsistent winger for United to Lyon’s captain and talisman. Even after suffering an ACL injury, he has still managed to come back just as strong. He has adapted his game to playing more centrally for the French club, which is a testament to his versatility and his improvement as a player, which was all shown in his hat-trick against Dijon. He confidently converted two penalties with ease and his other goal was a thing of beauty.
Maxence Caqueret recovered the ball in midfield and set Lyon on a counter. He played in Karl Toko Ekambi on the right-wing, whose cross into the box was deflected into Memphis’s path. With almost no space for him, the Dutchman took a touch around the Dijon defender and then lashed the ball home from close-range. A goal of the highest quality and a sign of things to come for the remainder of the season if the talented dutchman stays.
Against Bordeaux, it will be much harder for Memphis to find the same amount of space he had in the game against Dijon. The midfield duo of Otavio and Tomas Basic will both be aware of the threat Memphis poses against them. Jean-Louis Gasset, Bourdeaux’s manager, will be sure to tell his midfielders to press the talented Dutchman. In doing so, they will try to deprive him of any space.
How Rudi Garcia will react to this inevitable tactic will be interesting. He may place Memphis upfront and instruct Bruno Guimaraes to play in the number 10 position. Alternatively, he may instruct Memphis to drift out wide as he did against Dijon. This will open up space in front of the defence for one of his midfielders to take advantage. Whatever he decides to do, one thing is clear – keeping Memphis quiet will be key to Bordeaux standing a chance against Lyon.
Midfield Battle Will Be Key if Lyon Are to Beat Bordeaux
The number one thing which will decide Lyon’s game against Bordeaux will be the midfield battle. After Lyon’s 4-1 win against Dijon, it was not Memphis who took all the plaudits even though he was involved in all four goals. It was Lyon’s central midfielders, Maxence Caqueret and Bruno Guimaraes, that stole the show.
Rudi Garcia was forced to play a pivot in midfield due to Houssem Aouar testing positive for Covid-19 before the game. This pivot allowed Guimaraes to play in his best role as a box-to-box midfielder, rather than the holding position which he has played before for Lyon. It also meant that Caqueret played the deeper out of the two.
Both players played excellently, as Guimaraes created several chances and linked up well with Memphis and the front two. Caqueret also performed tremendously. The midfielder is touted as Lyon’s best youth product in years, and, against Dijon, it was easy to see why. He sat deeper and controlled the game with his passing ability and vision; he also snuffed out many of Dijon’s attack with his excellent defensive intuition.
In Bordeaux’s first two games of the season, Otavio has been their best player. The Brazilian has been immense for them in central midfield. He is assured in possession, but his biggest strength lies in his defensive abilities. His defensive work rate and excellent position means he is one of Ligue 1’s best defensive midfielders.
With his excellent tackling and ability to sniff out danger, he will be key for them against Lyon. It will be hard for Lyon’s creative players to get a foothold in midfield due to the presence of Otavio. If they can work around the dogged Brazilian, they will be sure to create high-quality chances. Although, if they can not do so, it will be a frustrating evening for Lyon, and the game may end in a stalemate.
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