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Génésio leaving Lyon with Champions League sign-off?

Publish on 02/05/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Bruno Génésio will leave Olympique Lyonnais in the summer, but victory at home to second-placed LOSC on Sunday could go a long way to ensuring he does so with UEFA Champions League football booked for next season.

Olympique Lyonnais - LOSC 

Génésio announced last month that he would stand down as head coach of OL at the end of the campaign. At the time, Les Gones had just suffered their third loss on the bounce, going out of the Coupe de France to eventual winners Stade Rennais FC before losing to Dijon FCO and FC Nantes in the league.

All to play for

He has nonetheless steadied the ship since, with last Friday's 3-2 victory over Girondins de Bordeaux Lyon's second win on the bounce, leaving them just four points behind second-place Lille - whom they welcome to the Groupama Stadium on Sunday - with 12 left to play for.

Lyon were drawing 2-2 at the Matmut Atlantique on Friday until five minutes from time when second-half substitute Moussa Dembélé snatched all three points, and Génésio was understandably delighted, before turning to the subject of his own future.

"That's why we do this job, to live these moments," he said of Dembélé's winner, the former Celtic man's team-high 13th goal of the season. "It's perfect. There are four games left to win. We'll have to stay focused. I asked the boys to press high and keep up their movement. I was convinced we could come back and win and my half-time team talk was calm.

'For the good of the team'

"My decision to step aside? I'd have liked to have continued here when I see matches like tonight, but I did it to allow the team to carry on in the best possible way. My relationship with the players hasn't changed. There was a lot of joy and emotion in the changing room."

Jose Mourinho and Arsène Wenger are just two luminaries of the world game to have been linked with the Lyon job by various media sources in recent weeks, but whomever succeeds Génésio will hope to do so with Champions League football to play, and, in that regard, Lyon's fate is in their own hands.

Second will follow PSG in qualifying automatically for next season's Champions League group stages, with third having to negotiate the third qualifying round. That position is Lyon's to lose, with Derby du Rhône rivals AS Saint-Etienne three points back in fourth.

Génésio will be without Brazilian full-backs Rafael and Fernando Marçal due to thigh and groin strains respectively, but is undoubtedly set to name a full-strength side beyond that pair, with Dembélé and Memphis Depay competing for the right to lead the line.

Bite as bad as their bark...

LOSC will be no pushover. Les Dogues have been the best of the rest this season, occupying second place uninterrupted since beating Montpellier Hérault SC last December.

Christophe Galtier's side have plundered five goals in two of their last three games - the first of those a 5-1 mauling of PSG, the most recent a 5-0 thrashing of Nîmes Olympique - although Galtier, ever the perfectionist, was not completely satisfied with Sunday's victory at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

"We weren't satisfied with the first half," he said, "Our opponents contained us well and created chances. Fortunately, Mike [Maignan] was in inspired form in the first 10 minutes and we didn't make too many mistakes at the back. I asked my players to be calm but not patient - because you can fall asleep when you're too patient.

Absentees

Galtier has a bigger absentee list to worry about than Génésio - Thiago Mendes is suspended while Xeka (thigh), Adama Soumaoro (thigh) and Thiago Maia (ankle) are all missing - but with five difference scorers finding the net against Nîmes, the coach is not exactly worried.

"We're averaging two points per match. We're having a great run and we need to make it exceptional by putting in a great performance at Lyon next Sunday. My players are young, care-free, but they're determined. They listen. They were already talking in the dressing room about the match on Sunday. We'll be up against a very good side with enormous attacking potential. We know it'll be a difficult match but we're ready."

Possible teams

Lyon: Lopes; Tete, Marcelo, Denayer, Dubois; Ndombèlé, Tousart; Traoré, Fekir, Aouar; Memphis

Lille: Maignan; Çelik, J. Fonte, Gabriel, Koné; Soumaré, Ikoné; Pépé, Araujo, Bamba; Leao