Hurting Lyon redirect energy on home affairs
26 November 2015, Nirapad News: Lyon face Montpellier in Ligue 1 on Friday badly in need of a quick fix after being bundled out of the Champions League by Gent in midweek.
The Belgian visitors’ 2-1 win in the last European game to be played at the Stade de Gerland put an end to Lyon’s hopes of reaching the last 16 in what has been a miserable continental campaign.
The seven-time French champions are bottom of Champions League Group H with just one point from five games and now cannot even claim the consolation of a place in the Europa League in the new year.
Hubert Fournier’s team are in a better position domestically, but while they come into the weekend in second in Ligue 1 they are 13 points behind runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain and just three points ahead of Saint-Etienne in seventh.
OL were beaten 3-0 at Nice last weekend and followed that up with another loss against the Belgians despite Jordan Ferri giving them an early lead.
Danijel Milicevic levelled with a free-kick before Kalifa Coulibaly’s last-gasp winner which led to sports daily L’Equipe leading with the headline ‘Pathetic’ on Wednesday morning.
Nevertheless, on the premise that every cloud has a silver lining, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas suggested the premature ending of their European journey may not be a bad thing.
“It’s perhaps a question of no pain, no gain. We are now going to focus all our energy on qualifying directly for the Champions League like we did last season,” he said.
But he cautioned: “We’re in a good position but we know that all that can be quite fragile. We must regroup now in Ligue 1.
“So this (Champions League exit) is a plus in terms of us tackling the league but a negative for our image because what’s happened is way below our ambitions.”
Captain Maxime Gonalons, suspended against Gent, makes his return but right-back Christophe Jallet is injured and Samuel Umtiti has been struggling with a thigh injury.
Montpellier turn up in decent enough spirits with last weekend’s 3-1 defeat of Reims lifting them one point clear of the relegation zone.
After a dreadful start to the season, they have won three and drawn two of their last five matches to climb the table.
On Saturday, PSG’s home match against bottom side Troyes will be their first appearance at the Parc des Princes since the attacks on November 13 that left 130 people dead and hundreds injured in Paris.