Reine-Adélaïde not resting on laurels in Lyon
By A. Scott
Jeff Reine-Adélaïde says he has no complaints about the "healthy" competition for places at Olympique Lyonnais after finally completing 90 minutes in a domestic match for the first time this season.
Olympique Lyonnais - LOSC
The midfielder's inability to last a full game as a Lyon player following his €25 million move from Angers SCO in August had begun to raise eyebrows even before the 2-1 win over OGC Nice in Week 14 when he was hooked in the first half following the sending-off of Fernando Marçal. However, he finally got 90 minutes with his new club in last midweek's UEFA Champions League clash with Zenit Saint Petersburg and he did so again in Saturday's trip to RC Strasbourg Alsace, making the most of the occasion by scoring the goal which secured a 2-1 win at the Stade de la Meinau.
"I started timidly but things are getting better and better. I needed time to adapt and progress in certain areas. I am aware of my own qualities but we have a good squad and competition is healthy. When you are a player you need to work hard, stay after training in order to improve, but I also need to just be myself," said the 21-year-old former Arsenal player at a press conference ahead of Tuesday's home meeting with LOSC at the Groupama Stadium.
Watch: Lyon fight back to win in Strasbourg
"The coach talks to me a lot and that helps. He answers my questions and is trying to help me improve. For example sometimes I find myself in the wrong place on the field and we try to rectify that. We are working on my strengths and weaknesses. If the coach has taken me off in games then he has done it for a reason," added the France under-21 captain.
In an ideal world, Lyon coach Rudi Garcia would perhaps seek to rest Reine-Adélaïde here with this the fourth of nine matches in a 29-day spell up to the winter break. However, Garcia's options are limited at the moment due to injury worries.
Dubois out until winter break
Right-back Léo Dubois was only on the field for 17 minutes before hobbling off in Strasbourg with a knee problem. Garcia confirmed that the France defender would undergo on Tuesday to correct a meniscus problem that should keep him out until 2020. Meanwhile Marçal is suspended but midfield duo Houssem Aouar and Thiago Mendes are almost back fit, as is Memphis Depay, mercifully.
"The game against Strasbourg showed that I need my whole squad. With all the games we have coming up, I need to have a fully-fit group of players," Garcia admitted.
Lyon have won four of their last five league outings, including their last two. While they have rarely fully convinced since Garcia's appointment, that form left them seventh in the table after the weekend, just two points adrift of the top three, a considerable improvement on where they were when Garcia was appointed in October. They are currently above Lille on goal difference.
Watch: Lille get the better of Dijon
"The players know that we need to get as many points as possible. If we are able to make it three wins in a row we will climb the table. Every game is different, but Lille have strengths and weaknesses just like us. The league is a marathon and lots of things can happen but we need to finish in the top three at the end of the season," said Garcia.
"I want us to keep progressing. I have been here for a month now and we were a point away from the relegation zone when I came in. We had to win games and we are doing that. We have big games coming up and confidence is returning little by little."
Lille put a dismal run of one win in 11 games in all competitions behind them as they beat Dijon FCO 1-0 at home on Saturday. However, Victor Osimhen's winning goal in that game - his eighth in the league this season - came from the penalty spot, meaning LOSC have not scored in open play in any of their last four outings. They have still not won an away game this season.
Their coach Christophe Galtier said: "There are a lot of similarities between us and Lyon. Last year we were fighting with them for second place and this year we have both undergone changes. It is difficult for us to repeat performances because a lot is expected of us now."
"Against Dijon we kept trying to play little passes in the final third when we should be shooting more. I am not worried about us being overly reliant on Victor Osimhen because all teams are reliant on their attacking players. Take Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembélé out of the Lyon team and it is the same," added Galtier, who is without Reinildo here due to an ankle injury while Timothy Weah and Adama Soumaoro are still out.
Olympique Lyonnais: A. Lopes; Tete, Marcelo, Denayer (c), Y. Koné; T. Mendes, Tousart; Cornet, Reine-Adelaïde, Terrier; M. Dembélé
LOSC: Maignan; Pied, J. Fonte (c), Gabriel, Bradaric; B. André, Bo. Soumaré; R. Sanches, Ikoné, J. Bamba; Osimhen