There is often talk about Ligue 1 being a dull league due to the dominance of Paris Saint-Germain. Whilst this can be true, besides last year when Lille did the unthinkable, there is much more to a division than the title race. There are regular, nail-biting relegation battles as well as a number of sides trying to secure European football. Two of whom are normally in the mix for the latter will go head-to-head this weekend as Marseille host Lyon in the Choc des Olympiques.
Marseille Host Lyon in Choc des Olympiques
How Will European Ambitions Impact This Clash?
Despite the pair experiencing very different seasons on a domestic front, both have gone deep in Europe. When Marseille host Lyon on Sunday night, the Europa Conference League semi-final clash with Feyenoord will be looming over the former. Jorge Sampaoli’s men are still fighting on that front, meanwhile, Lyon fell at the most recent hurdle. After impressing in the Europa League, Lyon were ousted by West Ham United as the Irons went to France and put on quite the show.
Many people have turned their nose up at the third tier of European football but it has been mouth-watering in it’s inaugural campaign. To have two famous clubs like Roma and Marseille in the mix along with Leicester City and Feyenoord days it all. Along with the Foxes, Marseille entered the competition via the Europa League. The French outfit have seen off Qarabag, Basel and most recently PAOK. Dimitri Payet’s thunderous strike against the Greeks is one of the best you will see all year no doubt.
Stop what you are doing and watch what Dimitri Payet has just done 😱
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 7, 2022
Lyon romped through a group that contained Rangers, Sparta Prague and Brondby. Interestingly enough, the Scottish champions are still in the competition and have a hugely challenging match-up with favourites RB Leipzig to come. Lyon advanced and Porto came next, the side that of course eliminated Juventus in the Champions League last year after an amazing 210 minutes of action. That didn’t phase Peter Bosz’s men though, they snuck a 1-0 in Portugal before drawing 1-1 in front of their own fans.
It was then at the Parc de Olympique Lyonnais that they were torn apart by David Moyes’ West Ham. Craig Dawson, Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen, a trio of Englishmen, were on all target in a massively hostile atmosphere. Lyon had no answers and consequently crashed out of the tournament. This now means they have very little left to play for.
The History of the Choc des Olympiques as Marseille Host Lyon
Lyon’s men’s team may not be as impressive as their women’s side at this moment but they are of course a historic force in French football. Whilst Marseille are the only team from Ligue 1 to have ever won the Champions League, Lyon won seven consecutive league titles between 2001 and 2008. Famous names such as Juninho, Michael Essien, Karim Benzema and Mahamadou Diarra all featured in this iconic tenure.
Marseille Lyon Rivalry was the peak of french football. I think we all agree on this. pic.twitter.com/BMVmDXePCN
— Sami🍦 (@HolaSami17) April 27, 2022
As Marseille host Lyon this time around, the reverse fixture took place on Lyon’s territory. Matteo Guendouzi gave the visitors an early lead in a fiery affair. Lyon hit back late on and snatched all three points – all of the goal scorers in the game having played in the Premier League. Following from Guendouzi formerly of Arsenal, ex-Liverpool and Stoke City man Xherdan Shaqiri levelled things up before Moussa Dembele, a name known to fans of Celtic and Fulham, sealed the deal. Dembele struck in the 89th minute to top off a superb encounter for the neutral.
The pair are certainly familiar foes with there having been 105 league meetings between them (two of which occurred in Ligue 2). Both of the games in the second division were won by Marseille and overall they have won 30. Lyon edged it though with 35 wins whilst a surprisingly high 40 clashes ending in a draw.
Who Can Make the Difference at the Orange Velodrome?
The aforementioned Dimitri Payet is certainly a man who can get people out of their seats and his fans will be hoping for him to star in the Choc des Olympiques. The dynamic Frenchman has often been criticised for not being productive enough but with 12 goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 this term, he is silencing those doubters. That being said, it remains to be seen who Sampaoli will rest if anyone, due to the Europa Conference League semi-finals being either side of this weekend.
On the other hand, Lyon don’t have a whole lot riding on the rest of the season besides pride so will surely go full strength. In their last outing, a 5-2 win away at Montpellier, midfielder Houssem Aouar was on target twice. Maxence Caqueret and Rayan Cherki are the two key figures injured for Bosz so Aouar becomes all the more important.
Lyon's Houssem Aouar (23) was back on form against Montpellier with a brace, here are his highlights. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/GjZAqpmI4S
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) April 28, 2022
Luis Henrique may well start for Marseille given he isn’t eligible to compete in the Conference League. The 20-year-old Brazilian has just one goal contribution to his name in under 700 league minutes and so if he does get the nod, this would be a huge opportunity for him to step up. American winger Konrad de la Fuente is still out and Payet is sometimes over-relied upon after all.
Marseille have a Champions League spot to cling on to as well as a shot at winning the inaugural Conference League. In the chase for the former, Marseille host Lyon this weekend who themselves have very little to play for. Can Sampaoli continue his already impressive work?