In a suffocating match, OL managed to dominate Juventus on Wednesday evening in the knockout stages of the Champions League (1-0).
By our special correspondent in Lyon
“We have a date with history.” Jean-Michel Aulas, in our columns Tuesday, did not lie. He was even a visionary. See prophetic. There are evenings that take you to another dimension and give another color to your season. Coronavirus pyschosis aside. For Lyon, this is the case after the XXL exploit against Juventus in the first round of the round of 16 (1-0). Conquering, surly, united and talented, (all that was not PSG) the men of Rudi Garcia released a real great match. Gladiators. Of those who will regret a more consistent face since the start of the season of an OL too often on the razor’s edge. But the past doesn’t matter. Like the “little ones” who ate the big ones (Leipzig, Dortmund against Tottenham and Paris SG), Lyon can still believe in the quarterfinals of the C1. Who would have bet? Few people. See no one.
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Lyonnais success is above all collective. With of course individuals who stood out from the crowd like Aouar or Guimaraes, technical leaders of a transfigured OL. It’s also the success of a conspired and vilified coach since his arrival in Gones. In the first act, the plan devised by Rudi Garcia, with in particular the desire to insist on the sides worked wonderfully. To shake up the Bianconeri, it takes a lot more than that, we grant you, and that is what the Lyonnais who were very excited proposed. A compact block, animated by a collective desire to make the efforts together and an intensity required in a match of this level … Easy to say, difficult to do, but mandatory when you want to exist in the Champions League, even more face to a cador like Juventus, rarely so jostled for 45 minutes this season. Add to that elements that love light, like a Houssem Aouar twirling and delicious in his passing game, or Bruno Guimaraes, sparkling for his second match in the colors of OL after his arrival this winter from Brazil.
Only Ronaldo came forward as a threat
The whole forming a coherent whole and a real team. What Groupama Stadium fans haven’t seen much this season. But that’s also the charm of European evenings, where the present sweeps the past for a few minutes and takes you away for a whole stadium. After a disciplined first quarter of an hour, the Lyonnais began to be emboldened after the crossbar found by Toko-Ekambi on a corner at the line of Aouar (21e). Ten minutes later, still with Aouar, the playmaker of the Gones mystified his direct opponent before entering the area and offering caviar to Tousart (1-0, 31e). A fair reward for an uninhibited OL. Opposite, with a Rabiot, preferred to Matuidi and missing, only Ronaldo advanced as the main threat, without making Lopes tremble. No, it was Lyon who reigned supreme. Not bad for a team announced moribund, without consistency, mocked by impatient supporters and a coach conspired as rarely to the announcement of team compositions.
The result was of another consistency. Stung to the heart, the Turinese took, not surprisingly, control of operations. Without shaking the men of Rudi Garcia, straight in their pumps and determined to defend, together, the skinny but oh so important goal in advance. Willingly conquering and enterprising, Lyon revealed other qualities during a second period marked by real opposition in attack-defense. But for a sterile domination of the Piedmontese, with a first hot action not converted by Dybala… à la 69e minute of play.
Flawless and total commitment
Conscious of seeing his team weaken and retreat dangerously, Garcia had the good idea to use his bench with the entries of Terrier, Tete and Caqueret for Toko-Ekambi, Dubois and Cornet, completely exhausted, even paralyzed with cramps. A sign of flawless and total commitment. To the delight of the 57,059 spectators at Groupama Stadium, surprised and happy to attend a real big fighters match. “The stadium with us” arose and roared from the north bend, picked up at heart by a molten audience. A public on the brink of being silenced after three heatstrokes late in the game on a penalty claimed by Ronaldo (83e), a big opportunity for Higuain (85e) and an offside goal from Dybala finally canceled (88e). OL held their benchmark match. The first of its season. At the best of times. Remains a fact, with such a state of mind, Lyon can no longer hide. And will be eagerly awaited against Saint-Etienne on Sunday, then against Paris SG next Wednesday. Without forgetting the 8e final return to Turin on March 17th. Waking up on Thursday morning, Lyon is more alive than ever. Drunk with happiness. It’s already a great victory.