The lowdown on Lyon

The lowdown on Lyon

Time to take a closer look at the French side that FC Barcelona are facing in the Champions League round of 16

HISTORY

Although they date back to the late 19th century, the modern-day Olympique Lyonnais was not officially founded until 1950, and has grown into what is now the third most supported club in France, behind the clubs from the only two cities in the country with bigger populations than Lyon: Paris St Germain and Marseille.

Curiously, all seven of Lyon’s Ligue 1 titles came in the same period, an uninterrupted streak from 2002 to 2008, the club’s golden era. Their best ever run in the Champions League took them to the semi-finals in 2010, losing to Bayern Munich.

Since then, Lyon have sometimes had to settle for the Europa League rather than the UCL, but their women have been conquering all-comers from the continent, winning four of the last seven Champions Leagues. 

JOAN GAMPER AND HIS YEAR IN LYON

STADIUM

This will be Barça’s first ever visit to the 59,186 capacity Stade de Lyon, which in 2016 replaced Stade de Gerland, now home to rugby union club OU Lyon.

It was here that Portugal beat Wales in the Euro 2016 semi-finals, and also where Atlético Madrid won the Europa League Final last year, and later in 2019 it will be the venue for the Women’s World Cup Final.

HEAD TO HEAD

1960 Friendly
Lyon 1 FC Barcelona 5 (Suárez 2, Coll 2, Czibor)

1968 Friendly
FC Barcelona 7 (Zaldua 2, Gallego, Pereda, Fuste, Juanito, Rosello) Lyon 1

1995 Cuidad de la Linea Trophy
Lyon 2 FC Barcelona 3 (Cuellar, Kodro, Oscar)

2002/02 Champions League Group Stage
FC Barcelona 2 (Kluivert, Luis Enrique) Olympique Lyon 0
Lyon 2 FC Barcelona 3 (Kluivert, Rivaldo, Gerard Lopez)

Lyon were eliminated, while Barça joined Bayer Leverkusen in the next round and went on to reach the semi-finals, losing to Real Madrid.

2007/08 Champions League Group Stage
FC Barcelona 3 (own goal, Messi, Henry) Olympique Lyon 0
Lyon 2 FC Barcelona 2 (Iniesta, Messi)

Lyon and Barça both qualified, and were both knocked out by Manchester United in the knockout stages, Lyon in the round of 16 and Barça in the semi-finals.

2008/09 Champions League Round of 16
Lyon 1 FC Barcelona 1 (Henry)
FC Barcelona 5 (Henry 2, Messi, Eto’o, Keita) Olympique Lyon 2

Barça went on to win the title, beating Manchester United in the final in Rome.

FORM GUIDE

After a 2-1 win over Guingamp on Friday night, Lyon are currently third in the French championship, 16 points adrift of runaway leaders PSG and also trailing to this season’s surprise package in Ligue 1, Lille. They’re also still alive in the Coupe de France, where they’ll be meeting Caen in the quarter finals later this month.

Their Champions League campaign got off to the strongest possible start with a 2-1 victory away to Manchester City. But the Premiership side ended up winning the group comfortably, while Lyon drew all five of their remaining fixtures, including the decisive 1-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk that sealed qualification for the last sixteen.

In fact, another draw in the Barça fixture would equal the Champions League record of six, currently shared by AEK Athens and Rangers.

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THE PLAYERS

Ivorian forward Maxwel Cornet is Lyon’s top scorer in Europe with three goals but has only netted once in the domestic competition, where Dutch international striker Memphis Depay, Bertrand Traoré of Burkina Faso and Houssem Aouar lead the way with five each.

Depay, however, is overall joint leader for assists in this year’s Champions League with four, and the 21 chances he has created are only bettered by Toni Kroos of Real Madrid.

Nabil Fekir (whose younger brother Yassin is also in the squad) has been one of the Champions League’s top shot-takers this season with 23 (for Barça only Luis Suárez has attempted more) but only two of those found the net.

Moussa Dembélé (no relation) has scored four since joining the club last summer from Celtic, where he became the first player to score an Old Firm hat-trick against Rangers for over 40 years.

The only member of the squad with previous Liga experience is Senegal born Spaniard Pape Diop, who spent two years on the books at Celta.

THE BOSS

A midfielder for Lyon in the eighties and nineties, Bruno Génésio went on to hold a series of minor coaching roles at other clubs before becoming a part of the Lyon staff and being appointed first team manager following the dismissal of Hubert Fournier in 2015.

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