Olympique Lyonnais – Match Report vs Juventus 07/08/2020

Lyon had a 1-0 aggregate lead following the first leg as they headed to Italy to take on Juventus in the Champions League round of 16. They went into the match knowing that if they could grab an all important away goal, they would stand a good chance of progressing and they got off to a great start when talismanic forward Memphis Depay converted from the penalty spot after Aouar was brought down inside the area. The away goal would go on to prove vital to Lyon as a Cristiano Ronaldo brace put them behind on the night and under pressure for the last half an hour, but they were able to hold on against the Italian champions.

As expected, Juventus dominated the ball, and created some good opportunities as Bernadeschi wriggled his way through only to be denied by a fantastic last ditch challenge, whilst Ronaldo also had some decent chances asides from scoring from the spot and a long range effort that set up a tense final half an hour. The Portuguese superstar saw a couple of headed chances go begging and a freekick clawed acrobatically off the line, and Higuain also had a couple of chances that he was unable to convert.

The French club set up in 3-5-2 system that invited the likes of Dubois and Cornet to venture forward from wing back when possible, whilst their young midfield trio displayed experience beyond their years and seemed well balanced as the defensive qualities of Guimarães granted some freedom to Caqueret and Aouar to support the strikers. They retained a solid defensive shape with the back three competing well, and they were confident in possession, trying to use it productively rather than gifting it back to Juventus and inviting pressure. Overall, Lyon will have been delighted to progress against such a tough opposition after a second leg in which they did just enough to get through.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Houssem Aouar

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 30/06/1998
  • Current Club: Lyon
  • Career: Lyon
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Attacking Midfield / Left Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Houssem Aouar put on an excellent display in central midfield. The 22 year old rarely put a foot wrong in what was a stand out performance in possibly the biggest match of Lyon’s season up to that point. Technically, his ball control and skill in possession make him an asset in both retaining the ball and progressing his side up the pitch. He was frequently able to beat his man in tight areas or win fouls to take the pressure off his team – completing 6 dribbles in the match (the most of any player). Though he was also guilty of overrunning the ball on occasion. The midfielder was composed and never panicked even when put under pressure whilst he was also able to turn sharply in midfield and pick out forward passes or switches.

His passing was for the most part accurate barring a couple that were easily telegraphed and he was able to control the tempo of the game when Lyon had the ball, an important asset in a game in which they saw less of the ball than normal. He linked up effectively in tight areas high up the pitch and his awareness and movement meant that he was often an option for his teammates and he could pop up in dangerous areas. This movement and positioning paid dividends when he won the penalty as he made a smart underlapping run before being picked out and bringing the ball under control. When the opportunity presented itself he was capable of drifting in between opposition lines or dropping deep to collect the ball off the defence and driving forwards.

Defensively, he retained his position well when Lyon were in their defensive shape and he pressed effectively at stages. Aouar also demonstrated a good reading of the game to make a couple of important interventions in midfield areas. At 5’9 and with a slim build, the Frenchman does not provide much of a physical presence and can be quite light weight, but his technique and ability on the ball make up for this when in possession, whilst the likes of Guimarães are capable of providing more of a combative defensive contribution.

Aouar is an incredibly talented player with the ball at his feet and is also very intelligent in his play for a player of his young age. In this match he displayed maturity and skill in possession against a tough opposition on the big stage.

Rating: A1

Maxence Caqueret

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 15/02/2000
  • Current Club: Lyon
  • Career: Lyon
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Alongside Aouar at the heart of the Lyon midfield, was youngster Maxence Caqueret. Similarly to his midfield partner, he showed great talent and skill on the ball, rarely appearing to be rushed and smoothly operating as a catalyst in midfield. Caqueret completed the most dribbles after Aouar out of any player on the pitch (4), and used his good ball control to beat defenders and free up space for both himself and his teammates.

When in possession, Caqueret glided around the pitch elegantly and linked up well in tight spaces whilst also displaying his ability to spread the play and bring a degree of composure and calmness in midfield. He used his quick feet to win set-pieces for his team or set up his teammates high up the pitch by feinting to pass one way before reversing the pass, although understandably some naivety shone through on occasion with some loose touches and passes.

Defensively, it was a similar display to that of Aouar for Caqueret, in that he did some things very well but also showed some naivety at times. He was capable of pressing effectively and getting in the face of the opposition and forcing them into playing backwards or making a mistake. The Frenchman made three interceptions and two tackles throughout the match and displayed good energy levels to cleverly cut passing lanes whilst quickly closing down the ball at the right time.

However, he also seemed weak in the challenge at stages, dangling a leg rather than committing or allowing the opposition player to bypass him too easily. Whilst when he did press, occasionally he would overcommit in his eagerness to win possession and therefore be drawn into fouling the player or being beaten.

In what was only Caqueret’s ninth first team appearance for Lyon, he was very impressive and did not look out of place in the slightest against high quality opposition and although his naivety did show at times, he displayed real quality in possession and a willingness to work hard and win back the ball for his team.

Rating: A2

Bruno Guimarães

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 16/11/1997
  • Current Club: Lyon
  • Career: Audax, Atlético Paranaense, Lyon
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Bruno Guimarães sat deeper than Aouar and Caqueret and had a more defensive role in the system. The Brazilian was aggressive in the challenge and used his stocky build to fend off opponents and battle well at the heart of the midfield. He was snappy and aggressive when making a tackle and looked to hassle his opponent and show them away from goal.

He was not afraid to put his body on the line to make blocks and the 22 year old displayed good reading of the game to cover for his teammates and screen the defence effectively. He did overcommit on a couple of occasions and this resulted in him being beaten and committing a couple of clumsy or cynical fouls to prevent Juventus breaking away.

In possession, he used his body well to protect the ball and displayed good composure when linking up in transitions. He was not afraid to join the attack despite his role primarily being defensive and he saw a decent effort from range go just wide. Guimarães could have perhaps recycled the ball better and been more efficient as a whole, but he did show impressive qualities on the ball and rarely seemed rushed when put under pressure.

Overall, the Brazilian provided a good level of balance in the midfield to grant Caqueret and Aouar the freedom to get forward, whilst he seemed for the most part competent in possession.

Rating: A2

Maxwel Cornet

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Ivorian
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 27/09/1996
  • Current Club: Lyon
  • Career: Metz, Lyon
  • Position: Right Wing
  • Secondary Position: Striker / Left Wing / Left Wing Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Cornet operated as a left wing back in this match and seemed competent, although he was not granted many opportunities to get forward due to Juventus’ dominance of possession. He made some decent progressive passes and rarely gave away the ball (93% pass completion), whilst he displayed impressive quick feet to beat a man or make flick ons to teammates in space.

He did overrun the ball on occasion as well as committing a couple of needless fouls. The Frenchman maintained his width to stretch the opposition when Lyon had the ball and was more than comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Defensively, he rarely found himself in one v one situations but stuck to his duties effectively, using a good burst of pace to cover for his team and pick up loose balls. Furthermore, despite being average height at 5’10, he has quite a stocky build that makes him strong in challenges and he is able to leap high to challenge aerially when required.

It was a relatively quiet game for the wing back who for the most part impressed when given the chance, I would be interested to see him in this position against a team where Lyon are allowed more possession and freedom to attack.

Rating: B1

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