Sitting second in Ligue 1 at present, Lyon’s league form has so far been good. This is in spite of concerns from some fans over the club’s new transfer policy which saw Jérémy Toulalan and Miralen Pjanić leave the club this summer with Michel Bastos and Aly Cissokho strongly linked with moves elsewhere. Lyon have yet to be defeated in the league and ended the winning streak of league-leaders Montpellier last week. The club have a record of three wins and two draws in the opening five fixtures and have shown their attacking intent in each of these matches.
The Champions League is where Lyon enjoy playing, though they will be without star striker Lisandro Lopez, who suffered an injury in the win over Montpellier last week. Lisandro is certainly the club’s main goalscoring outlet, consistently scoring in both league and continental competition. With this in mind, Bafétimbi Gomis could patrol the forward line alone for OL, supported on either side by attack-minded forwards. Gomis scored a fine header at the weekend against Dijon but Lisandro will be missed.
Lyon have a decent record in the Champions League in recent seasons, consecutively reaching the knockout stages of the competition. Exactly what formation boss Rémi Garde adopts for this fixture remains to be seen though there are options available to him.
Ajax currently sit top of the Dutch Eredivisie, three points clear of second-placed AZ Alkmaar, and have yet to be defeated with a record of four wins and one draw in the opening five matches of their league campaign. The Amsterdam club know how to hit the back of the net with a total of 18 league goals scored so far.
The Dutch giants contested the Champions League against French opposition last year. Playing Auxerre, they won the home fixture but were defeated in the return tie. Both matches finished 2-1. Franck de Boer’s side did finish third in the group, which also featured Real Madrid and AC Milan, and qualified for the Europa League as a result. de Boer concedes that even without Lisandro in the squad, Lyon are still a threat going forward:
“I think that the Lisandro – Gomis duo is a strong one. Even if Lisandro is injured, his partner is capable of good things and can score goals.”
De Boer then went to on challenge his players and hopes they have what it takes to rise to this challenge:
“Playing in the UEFA Champions League is the most beautiful thing there is for a player; that is what you come to Ajax for. That is what you try to get across to the players. If you want to recognition at international level, and most players do, then this is the best stage to act on.
The French league is a bit underrated in the Netherlands, but I rate it very highly; they have three teams in the Champions League. Lyon are among the strongest teams in France, so I am curious to see how big the difference between Lyon and Ajax is.”
The 52,960 capacity Amsterdam ArenA will host the occasion ad both these well-known European clubs look to begin their Champions League campaign with a win. In a group which also features Real Madrid and Dinamo Zagreb, getting early points on the board could be vital.