Genesio: 'Play our game'
Lyon can reach the last 16 by avoiding defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk, but coach Bruno Genesio is looking for his side to ignore the context and they look to clinch a first UEFA Champions League knockout-round place in seven years.
Wednesday, 12 December, 2018
UEFA Champions League Matchday 6, Group F
NSK Olimpiyskyi, Kyiv
FC Shakhtar Donetsk - Olympique Lyonnais
>> Live scoring from 21:00 CET
Lyon have the opportunity to reach the last 16 - a level in Europe's top club competition that has eluded them since 2011-12 - as they take on Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, and given the number of distractions and detours they have endured in recent weeks - and the fact that OL need only avoid defeat in order to qualify - it's no surprise that coach Bruno Genesio is looking for his squad of young stars to focus - on staying focused.
Keep it simple
Coming off a 2-0 Ligue 1 Conforama Week 16 loss to Rennes, Lyon had their Week 17 clash in Toulouse postponed before finding out that, due to more security concerns in Donetsk, their match away to Shakhtar would be played in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
"We have to give all we have. We know that we're capable of playing good football no matter the opponent or the location," said the OL boss who admitted in his press conference that this is one of the most important matches in his time as head coach before noting that playing for the draw is out of the question. "The best way to qualify will be by playing our game, not making calculations about this, that or the other."
Star trio on track
Currently second on seven points on Group F, two points clear of Shakhtar, OL will be guaranteed of second place in the group behind Manchester City as long as Shakhtar - who secured a 2-2 draw in Lyon on Matchday 2 - don't clinch a three-point haul and leapfrog them into the last 16.
Good news for Genesio is that his highly touted central midfield pair Tanguy Ndombele (ankle) and Houssem Aouar (toe), both of whom picked up injuries in the Rennes defeat, are fit ready to go, and while question marks still remain over the recent form of club captain Nabil Fekir, the OL boss is adamant the World Cup-winner will start in Kyiv.
Fekir 'ready to play a huge match'
"He trained and prepared well for the match. He's our captain and a very important player," said Genesio of his home-grown France international playmaker. "Like the others, he is ready to play a huge match and go after this last-16 berth. If Messi isn't completely on top of his game, would [Barcelona coach Ernesto] Valverde leave him on the bench for a crucial match?"
Fekir is tipped to assume playmaking duties behind Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traoré in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with Kenny Tete patrolling the right flank in the absence of Rafael who, alongside fellow defender Jérémy Morel and electric winger Maxwel Cornet, has remained in Lyon to receive treatment for injury.
Shakhtar Donetsk: Piatov; Boutko, Krivtsov, Matvienko, Ismaily; Maycon, Stepanenko; Marlos, Kovalenko, Taison (c); Junior Moraes
Olympique Lyonnais: A. Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal; Tete, Ndombélé, Aouar, Fer. Mendy; Fekir (cap); Be. Traoré, Depay