Lyon waiting in their den
Trailing 1-0 ahead of the conclusion of their Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Lyon are keen to prove their worth following a meek performance in the first leg.
After losing at the hands of Bayern at the Allianz Arena last Wednesday, the French side must prevail in front of their own fans at Stade Gerland if they are to reach the final for the first time in their history.
Bayern, four-time European champions and finalists a further three times, have pedigree and a fearsome attacking line-up on their side, but Lyon coach Claude Puel feels his team are better when they know they have to win.
“I prefer that, because our game is much better when we have to go after a result than the other way round,” he said.
Bayern winger Franck Ribery’s sending off in the 37th minute of the first leg gave Lyon the opportunity to take a grip on the tie but they failed to take it and were ultimately undone by an Arjen Robben goal in the 69th minute.
Lyon yielded their numerical advantage when Jeremy Toulalan was sent off early in the second half and striker Lisandro Lopez has upbraided his teammates for their lack of attacking intent.
“It’s clear. The team must change their attitude and their mentality for the next match on Tuesday,” he said.
“We didn’t play enough when we had the ball. We were waiting in our own half too much. We have to correct the tactics and show a more positive spirit to go for victory.”
Puel conceded that his side were inhibited in Munich but he sought to strike a positive note ahead of the return leg.
“We never managed to free ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t know how to play our game, quite simply. But, without being a foolish optimist, I believe that we still have a chance.”
Lyon have had six days to prepare for the encounter, after their league game with Monaco scheduled for the weekend was postponed by the French league. It is in stark contrast to the build-up to the first match, when they were forced to travel to Germany by bus due to the volcanic ash cloud that grounded flights across Europe.
They have not emerged unscathed from the past week, however, with centre-back and captain Cris rated doubtful with knee and hip injuries sustained in the first leg.
Holding midfielder Toulalan, meanwhile, is suspended following his dismissal for two bookable offences at the Allianz Arena. Bayern’s preparations have been disturbed by injuries to first-choice centre-backs Martin Demichelis and Daniel Van Buyten (both calf) in their 1-1 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.
“I took a knock on the calf,” revealed Belgian international Van Buyten shortly after the final whistle. “Now it is worse than when I came off.”
Bayern coach Louis van Gaal will wait until the day of the match before deciding whether Demichelis and Van Buyten are fit to play.
“I hope at least one of the centre-backs recovers fitness, then we’ll have (Holger) Badstuber at centre-back and (Diego) Contento on the left,” said the Dutch coach. “I’d be happy with that.” Captain Mark van Bommel will return to the centre of the Bayern midfield after missing the first match through suspension, but Ribery is unavailable due to his sending off in the first leg. The draw at Moenchengladbach allowed Schalke to draw level with Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga, cutting their lead to goal difference with two matches remaining. The prospect of a fifth European Cup, a 22nd German title and a 15th German Cup make this a historic season, though, and van Bommel says his team can compete with the very best.