Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Lopes back for Lyon's Cup rehearsal

Publish on 28/03/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS


Portugal goalkeeper Anthony Lopes is ready to return for Olympique Lyonnais against Stade Rennais on Friday as the European aspirants get set to collide twice in five days.

Stade Rennais FC - Olympique Lyonnais 

Lyon travel to Rennes' Roazhon Park to kick-off Week 30 in Ligue 1 Conforama before welcoming Les Rouges et Noirs back to their Groupama Stadium next Tuesday in the Coupe de France semi-finals.

Lopes suffered a concussion in Lyon's UEFA Champions League last 16 defeat to Barcelona two weeks ago, and missed Les Gones' subsequent 3-2 win over Montpellier Hérault SC as a result, but he is expected to be back between the posts for the first of two crunch games for the clubs.

All to play for

Lyon could close the gap on second-place LOSC to a single point - for 48 hours at least - should they win, with Paris Saint-Germain's closest pursuers not playing FC Nantes until Sunday, and coach Bruno Génésio is keen to avoid any slip-ups.

"It was important to get the three points to close on Lille," he said after Martin Terrier, Moussa Dembélé and Houssem Aouar fired OL to victory over La Paillade. "But it was also important to react the way we did four days after the elimination from the Champions League at Barcelona. We could've won by a wider margin."

English press reports have linked Lyon with a move for Chelsea's Olivier Giroud in recent days, but having plundered 10 goals in their last three league matches, a new striker is unlikely to be at the top of their shopping list.

Stretched thin

Génésio will have to rotate things further back, though. Full-backs Ferland Mendy and Kenny Tete both have thigh injuries, so Marçal is expected to take the former's place on the left, with Léo Dubois and Rafael competing to get the nod at right-back.

Lyon's absentee list is short compared to Rennes'. The Bretons are without suspended trio Hamari Traoré, Benjamin Bourigeaud and Ramy Bensebaini, although Hatem Ben Arfa - who missed his side's 1-1 draw with Girondins de Bordeaux with exhaustion last time out - is expected to start against his first club.

"We were in a real battle 72 hours before against Arsenal [the London club edged Rennes out of the UEFA Europa League the day after Lyon lost to Barca]," said Génésio's opposite number Julien Stéphan. "After being eliminated, it was important to bounce back quickly. We sent out a message that our season isn't finished, that we won't give anything up in the fight for Europe. We have objectives in the league and with the Coupe de France semi-final."

Silver lining

Rennes are six points outside of the European places, so Stéphan is likely to name as close to a full-strength side as he can, and suspensions on Friday could equal well-rested players come Tuesday.

In the meantime, full-backs Mehdi Zeffane and Souleyman Doumbia should fill in for Traoré and Bensebaini respectively, while M'Baye Niang, scorer of three in his last five, is likely to lead the line ahead of Jordan Siebatcheu. 

Possible teams

Rennes: Koubek; Zeffane, Da Dilva, Mexer, Doumbia; Sarr, André, Grenier, Del Castillo; Ben Arfa; Niang

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