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Can cup competitions bring Lyon success this season?

While form in Ligue 1 has been inconsistent for Olympique Lyonnais throughout the season, since the very short reign of Sylvinho as manager ended in October of last year, they have made excellent progress in the domestic French cup competitions with Rudi Garcia at the helm.

That said, even the experienced former Lille, Roma and Marseille coach has yet to get the best from his team in the league, leaving Les Gones a good margin off the pace behind rivals in the Champions League and Europa League positions in the top four. Lyon have only finished outside the top four once in the last ten seasons when they dipped to 5th during the 2013-14 campaign.

Given that one of the minimum expectations at this prestigious club is to qualify for Europe each season, the pressure is now on closing the gap in Ligue 1 if they still can, or perhaps more realistically, aim to win one of the two domestic cups.

Coupe de la Ligue

Back in September last year, the LFP announced that the 2019-20 edition of the Coupe de la Ligue would be its last. This decision came as a surprise to many and completely out of the blue, although there appears to have been a lack of sufficient bids for TV rights, which hardly helped the competition generate the required interest and revenue streams. The LFP have suggested they could yet restore the competition at some point in the future.

Nevertheless, the competition has brought a final for Lyon and what could be their only chance for silverware this season. They comfortably dispensed with Toulouse with a thumping 4-1 victory in the Round of 16, then brushed aside Brest 3-1 in the Quarter-finals. Lille were an altogether different proposition in the Semi-Finals, especially after Loïc Remy equalised for the visitors in stoppage time, although Lyon made it through after extra-time and penalties.

Almost a month ahead of the final, scheduled to take place on Saturday 4th April 2020, the latest Coupe de la Ligue odds at Betway have Lyon priced at 13/2 odds to lift the trophy. However, they will come up against a dominant PSG side chasing the domestic French treble this season, who at 3/8 odds are expected to win this competition for an unmatched ninth time.

Coupe de France

Ahead of the semi-finals which are scheduled for Wednesday 4th March, once again, Lyon face the hugely difficult challenge of getting past PSG if they’re to reach their second final this season. There are no surprises for guessing that the Parisians are also favourites for this competition too, which Lyon haven’t won since the 2011-12 campaign, beating level three side US Quevilly 1-0 in the final.

The Coupe de France is famed for the frequency of lower league teams reaching the final. Although the 2019-20 edition impressively featured two level-four teams who made it all the way to the Quarter-finals, both ASM Belfort and SAS Épinal were eliminated, leaving four Ligue 1 clubs left in the Semi-finals.

For their part, Lyon have enjoyed an impressive run so far in the Coupe de France. Entering in the Round of 64 along with all the other Ligue 1 clubs, they comfortably thrashed third-tier side Bourg-en-Bresse Péronnas 0-7 at the Stade Marcel-Verchère. Even more impressively, Lyon went on to secure a tight 3-4 triumph in the Round of 32 at Nantes, followed by an edgy 1-2 victory at Nice in the Round of 16.

Rudi Garcia will probably have relished the Quarter-final encounter with his former side Marseille, who Lyon beat 1-0 at home thanks to a late winner by midfield maestro Houssem Aouar. Although there’s no doubt that PSG will be strong favourites for the semi-final confrontation at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, the home side will no doubt be busting a gut to reach the final.

The Pressure of Facing PSG Again

Though it might hardly seem encouraging for Lyon to be facing PSG in both of the cup competitions, having lost to them twice already in Ligue 1 this season, Lyon must aim to win either the Coupe de la Ligue or the Coupe de France, if they’re to secure European football next season.

There’s no prize for the runners-up in the two French cup competitions. If the winners have already qualified for the Champions League or Europa League, the two available spots in the latter are then awarded to the fifth and sixth teams in Ligue 1. If Lyon and Rudi Garcia are to salvage anything from the current campaign, lifting one of the cups will be an absolute must.

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