Coupe de France 32emes : AS Nancy Lorraine v Olympique Lyonnais
On the face of it Lyon’s Round of 64 clash in the Coupe de France against Nancy should see the visitors scamper away from the Stade Marcel Picot with a comfortable victory. The Ligue 1 side are currently sitting pretty in third having reeled off four straight league wins going into the winter break.
Nancy on the other hand are languishing in 16th in Ligue 2 with just four wins to their name. Doesn’t sound like a fair contest does it? Nancy coach Vincent Hognon has a difficult job on his plate as he’ll need to somehow tame Lyon’s fearsome attack who can field Memphis Depay, Mariano Díaz, Nabil Fekir, Maxwel Cornet as well as precocious talents like Myziane Maolida and Amine Gouri to name a couple.
The other factor Hognon will have to contend with is breaching Lyon’s defense which has tightened up significantly over the course of the Ligue 1 season. So is there any sliver of hope for Les Chardons in pricking the confidence of OL and pulling off a surprise result? Maybe, if Les Gones resume some bad habits after the winter break.
In the first half of the Ligue 1 season, Lyon demonstrated a worrying inability to hold on to leads so if the home side can inject some nerves in the visitor’s backline then there’s more than a fair possibility of OL’s defense conceding presentable opportunities especially if Bruno Génésio decides to field an understrength side. OL can drop the odd rick too against so-called lesser opposition as their 2-1 defeat at home to the chaos factory that is Lille demonstrates.
Still for an upset to occur Nancy will have to be at the top of their game whilst hoping for Lyon to be sub-par. A key player in the home side’s hope for progression is the 37-year old striker Youssouf Hadji who has found the net for Nancy nine times this season. If omens are anything to go by the home fans will be hoping Hadji finds the net as on all but one occasion Nancy managed to yield a positive result in Ligue 2 whenever the forward struck.
The goal stats suggest that support for Hadji will be limited as only Malaly Dembele and Amine Bassi have scored more than once for Nancy this term.
As for Lyon complacency is most likely to be their biggest enemy. After a shaky start to their Ligue 1 campaign the Rhône-Alpes club found their feet combining clinical attacking play with a level of defensive discipline. If anything the winter break may have halted Lyon’s momentum and Nancy would be well served by trying to attack from the off if only to test whether the Ligue 1 outfit have any cobwebs.
After a tight affair against Forbach and a comfortable dismissal of Rungis U.S. it’s hard to see Nancy participating any further in the Coupe de France once the Round of 64 is completed. The gulf in quality and the contrasting form between Lyon and Nancy are just too glaring to ignore and though anything can happen in football OL would need to revisit last season’s kamikaze approach to defending if the home side are to have a sniff.
Cup competitions can be prickly business but if Lyon approach the job in a professional manner they are unlikely to be stung this time around.