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World Cup winner Fekir: 'Lyon's squad is like France's'

Publish on 10/08/2018 at 09:00

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Nabil Fekir has compared Olympique Lyonnais' squad to France's FIFA World Cup-winning group as the seven-time French champions prepare to kick off their season at home to Amiens SC on Sunday.

 Olympique Lyonnais - Amiens SC 

 

Fekir returned to a hero's welcome when he brought the trophy he had helped win with Les Bleus in Russia to his native region, and the Lyon captain will be given a special ovation prior to the start of Sunday's Ligue 1 Conforama season opener at the Groupama Stadium.

While he continues to build his fitness back up following his post-World Cup break, Fekir sees parallels between the players that took their nation to the summit of world football and the promising blend Bruno Genesio has at his disposal.

"We have some very good players and there is a very good atmosphere. It's a bit like with the French national team. There's a mix of old and young players, players who are more experienced than others," explained the 25-year-old, who already has more than 100 top-flight starts to his name and will add yet more experience in this season's UEFA Champions League.

"It's important to play in it. We're fortunate to be able to play in this magnificent competition. I hope we'll have a very good run."

WATCH: What happened when Amiens went to Lyon last season

The return to the top level of European club football came courtesy of a third-placed finish last season, pipping Olympique de Marseille to a highly coveted podium place by just a single point.

Fekir held a central role in the expansive, exciting football Lyon played, teaming up to devastating effect with Memphis Depay, Mariano Diaz and Bertrand Traoré to make OL one of Europe's most impressive sides on the front foot.

While all those talents have remained at the club, the arrival of former Nantes defender Léo Dubois has given the back four added steel, and despite seeing his side lose a penalty shoot-out to Chelsea in their final International Champions Cup 2018 encounter on Tuesday, Genesio is happy with pre-season preparations.

"I liked the way we played in the first half. We had good intentions and created chances. We didn't bring the ball out as well in the second half. It was a good test," he explained after having also seen his team beat Benfica and lose to Inter Milan in the friendly tournament.

"We had a lot of promising matches during pre-season. That's a good thing to prepare for what is to come."

While the glorious European nights will have to wait until September, Lyon begin their quest to earn the right to stage them again in 2019/20 at home to an Amiens side starting only their second-ever top-flight season.

Christophe Pélissier's men were odds-on favourites to make a swift return to Domino's Ligue 2 last season, but silenced the doubters by finishing 13th, eight points above the bottom three.

Without significant means to boost a solid if unspectacular squad, the Picardy outift have moved smartly to build on the side that preserved their top-flight status.

They have even picked up two recruits who were at the FIFA World Cup in Russia: Poland international Rafal Kurzawa and Sweden full-back Emil Krafth.

"They're players with experience of the highest level," explained Pélissier of his new signings. "They're going to do all they can to make Amiens an established Ligue 1 club and that it can take the next step."

While Lyon will expect to have a full squad available bar Fekir and Anthony Lopes, who is suspended for the season's first two games, Amiens have a doubt over captain Prince Gouano, injured in the pre-season draw with AS Saint-Etienne.

Probable teams

Lyon: Gorgelin; Dubois, Marcelo, Morel, Mendy; Ndombele, Tousart, Aouar; Traoré, Mariano Diaz, Depay

Amiens: Gurtner; El-Hajjam, Adenon, Dibassy, Lefort; Fofana, Gnahoré; Otero, Mendoza, Cornette; Konaté

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