Olympique Lyonnais boss Rudi Garcia has declared his side will be on the front foot as they take on Italian giants Juventus in their crunch last-16 second leg clash at Juventus Stadium in Turin on Friday.
Friday, 7 August 2020
UEFA Champions League
Round of 16, second leg
Juventus Stadium, Turin
Juventus FC - Olympique Lyonnais (0-1 on aggregate)
- Kick-off at 21:00 CET
Olympique Lyonnais have featured in European competition of one kind or another for the past 23 seasons but, following their defeat to PSG in the final of the Coupe de la Ligue BKT on Friday, winning the Champions League will be their only way to secure continental inclusion for an incredible 24th-straight campaign.
Garcia: 'It's 50-50'
Thus the importance of their last-16 tie with Juventus has grown even further, and while the gravity of facing Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. - who have just finished their regular season, while OL had an unprecedented four-month lay-off broken by just the single outing against PSG - is compelling, OL boss Rudi Garcia doesn't feel his side is on the back foot.
"Given the opponent we're up against, it's 50-50," Garcia, whose side have a 1-0 aggregate lead thanks to Lucas Tousart's winner in Lyon in late February, told RMC Sport. "We have to remember that we beat them. It was a magnificent match at home, in Groupama Stadium, in front of our supporters."
Garcia can also draw confidence form the fact that he has attacking stars Memphis Depay and Jeff Reine-Adélaïde - both of whom missed the first leg and much of the 2019-20 campaign with torn ACLs - back and fighting fit. And it seems the OL boss will be looking to captain Depay to take the game to La Vecchia Signora.
"What's certain is that we're not going to be content to just defend that lead. We'll have to do everything we can to score at Juventus Stadium," warned Garcia. "We know that if we score, they'll have to score three times. We'll have to be intelligent about how the game unfolds: don't panic if you concede a goal, don't think it's all done and dusted if you score."
With Moussa Dembélé up front, supported by Depay, Houssem Aouar and star winter recruit Bruno Guimaraes, OL should have plenty of cutting edge. But their defensive performance against PSG on Friday - holding the capital club superstars to a goalless draw over 120 minutes in stifling heat before a penalty shootout - showed that Garcia's charges are in excellent physical shape and capable of the kind of pressing game that can muzzle expensively assembled attacks.
Sarri: 'Impossible to play without pressure'
Speaking of which, Juventus 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny has been quoted as saying that Ronaldo is preparing "a miracle" to get Juventus out of this tight spot. While OL will certainly be taking that threat seriously, they will likely not have to contend with Argentine striker Paolo Dybala, who is battling to beat a thigh injury.
“With the first leg result, it's a very tough match and we need to approach with calm and focus," said Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri, who is tipped to field Ligue 1 Uber Eats alumni Adrien Rabiot and Miralem Pjanic - a former OL man - in midfield. "It's impossible to play without pressure tomorrow night but we need sharpness, which is slightly different.”
Should OL maintain, or widen, their lead and book a place in the Final 8 in Lisbon, they will need to quickly pack their bags and start preparing for a quarter-final clash with no less than the winner of Manchester City and Real Madrid on… Saturday, 15 August.
Juventus: Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Bonucci, Sandro; Betancur, Pjanic, Rabiot; Cuadrado, Higuain (or Dybala), Ronaldo
Olympique Lyonnais: Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal; Dubois, Caqueret, Guimaraes, Aouar, Cornet; Dembélé, Depay