Epic comeback needed for Lyon
Olympique Lyonnais will need to record a famous win over AFC Ajax on Thursday if they are to reach the UEFA Europa League final after losing 4-1 in last week's semi-final first leg.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg
Olympique Lyonnais - AFC Ajax
Kick-off 21:05 CET; Ajax lead 4-1 from first leg
Lyon were overwhelmed by the Dutch club in the first leg, but they were perhaps fortunate not to lose by a wider margin at the Amsterdam Arena and a second-half Mathieu Valbuena goal gives them something to cling to as they aim to reach the first European final in their history.
"There was some dejection after the first leg, but I have stressed that it is still only half-time in the tie and it's still possible for us," said coach Bruno Genesio at his eve-of-game press conference. "We have spoken a lot but now we have to show what we can do. We're capable of scoring lots of goals at the Parc OL. We really believe in ourselves."
Lyon have scored 35 goals in 10 home games in all competitions going back to the start of February, so they are most certainly capable of getting the goals they need, and the return to fitness of leading scorer Alexandre Lacazette is a huge boost too.
"He will demand attention and he can also score at any time. However, he needs help and it will be a team effort," added Genesio. "Ajax are a young side, who can be inconsistent. But we'll have to keep our nerve and, importantly, stay solid defensively. I'm hoping for a great performance."
Fekir to start?
Ajax are dreaming of a first European trophy since 1995 and they showed in the first leg how dangerous they can be going forward. A goal for them at the Parc OL would leave Lyon facing an even steeper struggle uphill.
"I'm not going to choose between scoring a goal ourselves and not conceding one. Our intention is to score goals and not concede any," said their coach Peter Bosz, who was appointed last year and has overseen a fine Europa League run after they were eliminated from the Champions League in the play-offs by Rostov.
"We have a young team, but this is already our 18th European game this season so we are experienced as well."
Defender Daley Sinkgraven is missing for the visitors while Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and the ineligible Memphis Depay are absent for Lyon. Nabil Fekir is tipped to start after earlier reports that he might be left on the bench for a game that is expected to draw a crowd of in excess of 50,000.
Lyon: Lopes; Jallet, Nkoulou, Diakhaby, Morel; Tolisso, Gonalons (c); Cornet, Fekir, Valbuena; Lacazette
Ajax: Onana; Veltman, Sanchez, De Ligt, Viergever; Klaassen (c), Schöne, Ziyech; Traoré, Dolberg, Younes