Positive thinking from OL boss Genesio
By D. Crossan
As an Alexandre Lacazette-less Olympique Lyonnais prepare to take on Angers on Friday evening, OL coach Bruno Genesio is focusing on the positives.
OL, second in Ligue 1 in each of the past two seasons, have dropped to fifth in the table, though they are through to the semi-finals of the Europa League, travelling to Ajax for the first leg next Wednesday.
Genesio said: "We can still finish fourth and win the Europa League. That would make it a very good season for us in the end. I prefer to reason like that, rather than say to myself we might lose everything."
Genesio rotated his squad for last Sunday's home loss to Ligue 1 leaders Monaco, a match that came just three days after knocking Besiktas out of the Europa League on penalties in Istanbul. The OL coach said: "It was the right solution to change things up against Monaco and I see my Monaco counterpart did the same in the Coupe de France. You use up a lot of physical and mental strength when you play every three days. We'll have four full days to prepare for the trip to Ajax.
"We don't know when Lacazette will be fit to play"
"We don't know when Alex Lacazette will be fit to play again. We'll assess him on a day-to-day basis. He's out of the Angers game and faces a race against time. Nabil Fekir is back in the squad. It's coming to the end of the season and there are a lot of injuries. We need to pay attention to the amount of minutes played by each player."
Friday's match takes OL to Coupe de France finalists Angers, who have lost their last four Ligue 1 matches and will still be digesting making the Coupe final for the first time in 60 years. OL beat Angers 2-0 back in Week 19 thanks to goals from Lacazette and Fekir.
Genesio said: "The league is important to us. We need to finish fourth and our game in hand means our destiny is on our own hands. Those who didn't play against Monaco have a high chance of starting on Friday. There's no panic from us when we look at the table. Bordeaux have a tough fixture list and other clubs will drop points too. It's down to us to do the business. Angers are a tough team to play against away from home. They've just won a semi-final and that means they're on an upswing."
First Coupe de France final for 60 years
Angers' hope will be that OL have their minds on Ajax as winning the Europa League is the club's only possible route to Champions League qualification. Following the 2-0 Coupe de France semi-final win over Guingamp on Tuesday, coach Stéphane Moulin said: "I said to the lads that they managed to make themselves and others happy and that's the best thing in life. We've wiped out a six decade absence from the Coupe de France final and that's exceptional.
"We haven't won anything yet; what we have done is earn the right to play a Stade de France final and that's big for us. A childhood dream is being realised. It's a coach's dream. When you fulfil a dream, it's a big moment."
Angers SCO: Letellier; A. Bamba, I. Traoré, R. Thomas, Manceau; Ndoye (c), Santamaria, Mangani; Pépé, Toko Ekambi, Capelle
Olympique Lyonnais: A. Lopes; Jallet, Nkoulou, M. Diakhaby, Morel; Tousart, Gonalons (c); Valbuena, Tolisso, Depay; Fekir