Lyon look for boost before Barcelona
By A. Scott
Olympique Lyonnais are looking for a boost ahead of their UEFA Champions League trip to Barcelona as they face RC Strasbourg Alsace at a packed Stade de la Meinau on Saturday.
RC Strasbourg Alsace - Olympique Lyonnais
Lyon could be forgiven for being distracted by the prospect of their game at the Camp Nou next Wednesday. After a 0-0 draw at home in the first leg, the last-16 tie remains open and there is extra responsibility on their shoulders now as the only French survivor in Europe's elite club competition.
However, Bruno Genesio's side are still fighting on three fronts this season. While they are not favourites against the Spanish champions, they have a Coupe de France semi-final against Stade Rennais FC to come next month and are fighting to finish on the Ligue 1 Conforama podium for the second season running, the fourth time in five campaigns.
OL are fresh from a big 5-1 win at home against Toulouse FC last time out, a result which kept them third in the table, five points behind LOSC in second but also five points ahead of Olympique de Marseille in fourth.
Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traoré scored against Toulouse either side of the visitors equalising at the Groupama Stadium. Nabil Fekir then netted a penalty on his return from injury, before Moussa Dembélé grabbed a brace to move onto nine league goals for the campaign. However, the return of Depay to scoring form was of particular delight to Genesio.
Watch: Lyon put five past Toulouse
"He never gave up. He could have had one or two more had it not been for some extraordinary saves," said Genesio after seeing the Dutchman score in a second consecutive game following a three-and-a-half-month goal drought. "Throughout the period where he wasn't scoring, he was still helping the team. Now he has been rewarded for his efforts - in football, you get what you deserve."
'Unforgettable' for Fekirs
Last week's game was also notable for the Ligue 1 Conforama debut of Yassin Fekir, as the 21-year-old played alongside his brother for the first time in the Lyon senior side. He played the last 11 minutes after coming off the bench to replace Dembélé.
"It was an unforgettable moment to play with my little brother," said Nabil after the match. "It was really nice but I hope it's just the start. It makes me really proud to play alongside him. It is something our father had been waiting a long time for. Yassin has integrated well into the squad. I try to give him advice because I have more experience but he has a lot of quality."
Watch: Ten-man Strasbourg beaten at Nice
It remains to be seen if the younger brother will feature in Alsace, as Lyon seek revenge for a 2-1 defeat at home to Strasbourg in the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals in January as well as a first away league win since late January.
No wins in five for Strasbourg
Strasbourg come into the weekend in ninth place in the standings, six points adrift of the top five. Their season could end up being defined by what happens in the Coupe de la Ligue final against EA Guingamp at the end of this month, but for now they will want to get back on track in the league.
Thierry Laurey - who on Friday marked 30 years since he won his one and only cap for France in a match against Scotland - has seen his side fail to win any of their five matches since beating Girondins de Bordeaux in the semi-finals at the end of January.
They have collected only two points from the last 15 available and lost 1-0 away to OGC Nice last weekend in a game they ended with 10 men after Samuel Grandsir was sent off late on.
Grandsir, the on-loan AS Monaco winger, begins a two-match suspension here. Influential midfielder Jonas Martin remains on the sidelines, but Ismaïl Aaneba and Pablo Martinez are back from bans in a match that will be played before another sell-out crowd of over 25,000. The home fans will be hoping for a repeat of their famous 3-2 win against OL late last season which secured their top-flight survival.
Strasbourg: Sels; Lala, Koné, Mitrovic (c), Martinez, Caci; Thomasson, Prcic, Fofana; Da Costa, Ajorque
Lyon: Lopes; Dubois, Marcelo, Denayer, Rafael; Tousart, Aouar; Cornet, N. Fekir (c), Terrier; Dembélé