Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Fekir back for in-form Lyon

Publish on 13/04/2018 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS


Nabil Fekir is set to make his comeback for Olympique Lyonnais as they chase a fifth straight Ligue 1 Conforama win when they host Amiens SC at the Groupama Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Olympique Lyonnais  -  Amiens SC

Fekir, who has scored 16 league goals this season and set up five more, has not played a Ligue 1 Conforama game since the 1-1 derby draw with AS Saint-Etienne on February 25. Since then he has been sidelined with a knee injury that required surgery, but OL coach Bruno Genesio says his captain is back and raring to go for the run-in.

"He seems liberated from his injury. We have taken all the time needed and now he is back to 100 percent physically. He wants to have a great finish to the season to land a place on the podium with his club and participate at the World Cup. If he is performing well for his team, he will be rewarded individually," Genesio said at a press conference on Thursday.

Lyon's recent form has been such that maybe they don't desperately need Fekir back right now, but he will add further firepower to a side that romped to a 5-0 victory at bottom club FC Metz last weekend.

Memphis Depay has been the star man of late, with the Dutchman netting the dramatic late winner away to Olympique de Marseille last month and contributing three goals and four assists in the two matches since then. Genesio says the ex-Manchester United player is flourishing in a more central attacking role in his 4-4-2 formation.

"Great players feel at ease in key positions. Memphis is much happier and it also allows us to maintain a three-man midfield with Nabil supporting the attackers," said the coach of a system that incorporates a diamond midfield. "But I have lots of other possibilities. It is a system that corresponds to the qualities of the players we have. Playing only one match a week allows you to do more work tactically."

Highlights: Depay destroys Metz

Lyon have been left to focus on the fight to finish third in the table and claim a UEFA Champions League berth for next season since their disappointing Europa League exit last month. They would have watched on enviously as Marseille made it through to the semi-finals of that competition on Thursday, but maybe the lighter load will ultimately work in Lyon's favour - they currently sit ahead of OM only on goal difference.

Amiens travel to the banks of the Rhône in fine form too, with last week's 3-0 win at home to SM Caen - featuring a 10th goal of the season for Moussa Konaté - leaving them well-placed to stay up. They are currently eight points clear of the relegation zone, having lost just one of their last seven games, although they may need their current breathing space given they also still have to play AS Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille.

"It will be their first trip to Lyon and I hope for them it won't be their last. I am pleased with the way things are going for them. They will come here to get a result," warned Tanguy Ndombele, who started the season with the Picardy club before moving to OL in late August.

Mean defence

Amiens were only beaten at home by Lyon in December when Houssem Aouar scored a stoppage-time goal to seal a 2-1 win for the visitors. They will also not be scared of facing Lyon's fearsome attack. After all, Christophe Pelissier's side boast the third-best defensive record in the division, behind only Paris and Montpellier Hérault SC.

"It is true that we have a very good defence, but as I often say it starts with the first attacker. When you look at the statistics at the end of a game, you can see for example that Moussa does a lot of running. It is thanks to the whole team," said the skipper Prince-Désir Gouano.

Highlights: Amiens beat Caen, close on survival

"They are really strong going forward, but I think they remain beatable. We saw that when we played them at home and really put them in difficulty. I think the mistakes we might have made in the past will serve as a lesson for this weekend," added the former Juventus defender.

Gaël Kakuta has recovered from an ankle knock suffered against Caen, while South African midfielder Bongani Zungu appears to be fine after having an MRI scan on a thigh problem.

Probable teams

Lyon: (To follow)

Amiens: (To follow)