In the evening of the penultimate day of the group stage of the Champions League, Olympique Lyonnais now occupies a place more in line with its level. In any case, the one that the club President Jean-Michel Aulas displays since the beginning of a season more than sluggish.
Logically beaten on Wednesday, November 27, on the pitch of Zenith St. Petersburg (2-0), Lyon is now third in Group G with 7 points, the ranking that falls to the teams sentenced to continue their European season at the lower level , that of the Europa League.
In Russia, the Lyonnais have not been helped by the many packages: those expected Houssem Aouar and Memphis Depay, but also those last minute Thiago Mendes and Martin Terrier. Coach Rudi Garcia has not been able to overcome these shortcomings. It even seems that his battle plan has aggravated the situation, sometimes having the air of Berezina.
All his tactical choices failed: the most spectacular on paper turned out to be uselessly cautious. Aligning defender Jason Denayer to the midfield and replacing the Belgian Marcelo by the Brazilian in central hinge, the former Marseillais illustrated his lack of ambition to produce the game while the young Maxence Caqueret, specialist position, reportedly could be a solution.
Worse, Marcelo is at fault on the two goals of Zenith: at 42e, while OL resisted as he could, the Brazilian allowed full freedom to the center Dziouba to open the score of the head (1-0). In the end, when his team could still hope for the miracle of a salutary equalizer, he deviated from the heel a shot from Ozdoyev who took the opposite goalkeeper Anthony Lopes (2-0).
Hung by the same Russian team in the first leg, which also has great similarities with that of the evening, the difference being just in the absence of Depay who could not this time save his own (the September 17, he had provoked and transformed the penalty equalizer), the Rhone club has not advanced much in two months.
The ousting of his Brazilian coach Sylvinho allowed a slight recovery in the Ligue 1, thanks to success against teams a priori inferior (Lyon rose from the 14e at 9e square). However, at the same time, his replacement Garcia lost three of the four games played against opponents of equivalent or higher caliber: two in the Champions League in Lisbon (2-1) and St. Petersburg (2-0) , one in Ligue 1 in Marseille on November 10 (2-1).
Benfica helps Lyon
To avoid being too harsh, the distant seven-time champion of France (the series already dates from 2002 to 2009) showed a semblance of revolt. Fifteen minutes during which the return of the locker room, the Lyonnais have procured some rare opportunities frank (47e, cross-strikes too Lucas Tousart; 56e, head of Moussa Dembele next) and a multitude of situations ruined by a dramatic inaccuracy on the centers. Too lean to surprise a very experienced and excellently organized Russian team around his Serbian captain, Branislav Ivanovic.
Winner twice before in four European games, OL only needed a draw to present themselves in a favorable situation before the last reception of RB Leipzig on December 10th. Despite this failure, Lyon can thank the Benfica Lisbon (4e with 4 points) who beat the odds to snatch a draw in Leipzig (2-2).
In a press conference, before knowing the result of the Portuguese club, Rudi Garcia, who posted an average of 0.85 point in the Champions League (the worst of a coach who led a minimum of 20 games in the competition), had been optimistic.
"We had to do better, we did not know how to do it, so it's really damaging. After, nothing is finished, it will remain a last match and we are supporters of Benfica tonight and on the next matchhe hoped. What is certain is that it will beat Leipzig, which is the best team of the group in my opinion. If we could not win, it would at least have come back with a draw, but we were not able to do that either. "
This Lisbon performance gives captain Léo Dubois's teammates a last chance to catch up. On the sixth day, December 10, OL, miraculously, still has his fate in his hands. To join the 8es the final, it will absolutely beat Leipzig, currently leader with 10 points. It will be daring and display a face more attractive.
OL no longer has time, it becomes urgent to begin a real healing process. A failed season (off the podium in Ligue 1 and missed qualification in the eighth in the Champions League) is certainly not a luxury that President Aulas can afford to offer to his new coach. It will be time to take stock of the Garcia bet at the winter break.