Ligue 1 Review | Lessons learned from Lyon’s humbling defeat to PSG ahead of Coupe de France final rematch

Eyes of the French footballing public were eagerly fixed on Ligue 1’s Sunday night fixture in Matchweek 30. The primetime slot offered a mouth-watering encounter as PSG welcomed Lyon to the Parc des Princes before their meeting in the Coupe de France final at the end of May. 

Lyon were humbly defeated 4-1 by Les Parisiens who have now further extended their advantage at the summit of Ligue 1 to 11 points after Brest were defeated by Monaco. OL displayed attacking intent in the opening stages but it ultimately cost them. Nemanja Matić became the victim of some brilliant link-up play between Asensio and Barcola in the opening minutes as he turned the ball into his own net. This set the pace for the night – one that would be long for Les Gones. Here’s what we learned from the final clash between the two sides before the Coupe de France final at the Stade Pierre Mauroy on the 25th May: 

Beware of Barcola 

Barcola has previously been a decisive factor in this fixture as he scored the winning goal in the match last season but on the opposite team. As the 21-year-old swapped the white of Les Gones for the tricolour of Les Parisiens, he came back to haunt his boyhood club with a magnificent performance. 

Many Lyon fans doubted the France U21 international’s move to their divisional rivals – believing he would not get the appropriate game time he needed for his development. It has been quite the opposite, with Barcola making himself an important part of Luis Enrique’s team and featuring as a regular in the Champions League. The former Lyon attacker has not just been making up the numbers either, with some impressive performances and he continued that trend on Sunday night against his old club. 

The PSG forward was electric on the left flank and constantly caused problems for Ainsley Maitland-Niles and more often than not the covering centre-back due to the England international’s advanced position throughout the match. Whether it be his eye for a pass or a quick change of pace, the Lyon academy graduate became the thorn in his former club’s side and frightened them ahead of the most important game of their season. If Sunday night was just a taster of what is to come, you can expect Lyon to be fearing that Barcola will come back to haunt them with another stellar performance in the final.

A more conservative approach needed? 

Pierre Sage has dramatically changed the fortunes of Lyon around this season – taking them from relegation strugglers to European outsiders and Coupe de France finalists. However, it would not be unfair to say that he got it wrong against PSG. 

OL looked to take the game to the Ligue 1 leaders in the early stages of the game and it instantly cost them. Matić turned the ball into his own net inside three minutes and the Rhône club never recovered. Sage continued to encourage his team to play with a positive approach and penetrate the PSG defence with lengthy periods of high possession. Nevertheless, this left his defence open and scrambling back with a swarm of counter-attacks from PSG. 

This approach played directly into the hands of Paris. The tactical flexibility of Luis Enrique’s team allowed PSG to switch from their traditionally high-possession and quick passing-based style to a more direct and counter-attacking approach to punish the vacant space left by the advanced Lyon line. Pierre Sage can be forgiven for any tactical naivety so early in his managerial career after such a tremendous start, but the manner in which his team were defeated is likely to give him food for thought when deciding the way he wants Lyon to play in the final. 

Mbappé who?

Luis Enrique offered another glimpse of how the post-Mbappé era may look at PSG with the France captain benched for the match against Les Gones. This came somewhat as a shock after the France captain’s heroic brace in midweek to complete PSG’s comeback victory against Barcelona in the Champions League. 

Paris Saint-Germain did not struggle without their usually dependable star attacker. Bradley Barcola and Gonçalo Ramos both showed that they had the star-like quality to influence a big match. The Portuguese international assumed Mbappé’s goalscoring duties on the night as he netted a brace against the helpless Lyon defence.

The 25-year-old was not even brought on in the match as Les Parisiens displayed that they were still able to be effective in attack without his talents. Now, the former Monaco attacker is expected to start the final as long as he can stay fit in the build-up. However, the ease with which PSG were able to dismantle Lyon’s defence without him displays that Paris may not have to rely on him to get the job done in the final. 

This week’s Ligue 1 subplots 
  • Monaco have assumed control in the race for Champions League football after defeating fellow UCL hopefuls Brest in a 2-0 victory. Les Monégasques have now moved 2 points clear of Les Pirates in second place and three points clear of Lille. The principality club also have a game in hand on Brest. Read more about Monaco’s victory here.
  • Following their win against Lyon, PSG are now within touching distance of landing another Ligue 1 title. As Champions-elect, Les Parisiens could even win the Ligue 1 title this week if results go their way. Read more about how PSG could wrap up the Ligue 1 title this week here.
  • Georges Mikautadze was a ‘forgotten’ man at Ajax. However, since his return to Metz and Ligue 1, he has once again returned to the limelight. The Georgian international was once again the hero for Metz with a solitary goal in their 1-0 victory against fellow relegation strugglers Le Havre. Learn more about Mikautadze’s torrid time at Ajax here

GFFN | Liam Wraith





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