As the clock ticked down at the Parc D’OL, Lyon were 3-1 down at home to CSKA Moscow, needing to score twice in the final 20 minutes for a place in the Europa League last eight, when coach Bruno Genesio threw on Ferland Mendy for Benjamin Marcal.
Marcal didn’t hide his frustration, refusing his manager’s handshake, engaging in a verbal tussle with the gaffer.
That just about summed up Lyon’s final night in Europe this season, as, despite pulling a goal back through Mariano Diaz, they had lost their heads, lost their concentration, and more importantly lost out to the Russians on their turf.
The prospect of that home final was shattered before their eyes on that very ground, and with that, an option of sneaking into the Champions League through the back door.
Hopes of playing in Europe’s elite competition next season rests soley on the league, but Lyon are in fourth place, five points behind Marseille, whom they face in the Choc des Olympiques on Sunday.
Unlike Lyon, Rudi Garcia’s men enjoyed a successful night on the European front, their win in Bilbao completed a double over the Spanish club, and sent them into the last eight of an European competition for the first time in six years.
L’OM are bound to be in a bouncy mood following that result, and they are at home for Sunday’s derby, which definitely makes them the favourites.
Lyon, though, have to defy logic, pick themselves up after that deflating setback, a feat that’s likely to be difficult for such a young and inexperienced side.
A win in Marseilles puts them strongly in contention fo at least a Champions League playoff spot, as well as gives the side renewed confidence going into the International Break.
Elsewhere, following last weekend’s protests on their own patch, Lille will be glad to be playing away from the Metropole this weekend.
The downside, though, is that they’re away to Monaco who are second on the table, and unbeaten in 14 league games. Lille are in the relegation zone, and Christophe Galtier and his men need points however they can get them. A shock result here though, is highly unlikely.
Also happening this weekend, is a trip to Nice’s Cote D’Azur for Paris Saint-Germain, while Nantes are away to bottom club Metz.
Marseille v Lyon
Angers v Caen
Montpellier v Dijon
Toulouse v Strasbourg
Nice v PSG
St. Etienne v Guingamp
Amiens v Troyes
Bordeaux v Rennes
Monaco v Lille
Metz v Nantes