After beating Juventus and Manchester City, Lyon will face their biggest test yet, when they lock horns with Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern Munich and Olympique Lyon will face off in the second semi-final of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday at Estadio Jose Alvalade in Lisbon. The winners of this tie are set to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the final after the French giants secured a convincing win over RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
And while an all-German final is out of the question, an all-French final is still on the cards, especially given the form Olympique Lyon have shown in the Champions League so far. But despite beating clubs like Manchester City and Juventus, facing Bayern Munich will be a completely different ball-game for Les Gones.
After all, the Bavarians are coming on the back of an 8-2 rout over FC Barcelona that is expected to usher in a series of changes for the Catalan club. Even in the Round of 16, Bayern Munich beat Chelsea with a 7-1 aggregate, meaning they are the clear favourites heading into this tie.
Bayern Munich, along with PSG, are also one of two clubs who still have a realistic chance of landing a treble, having won the Bundesliga as well as the DFB Pokal this season. A win for Lyon, meanwhile, should see the rematch of the French Cup final, which PSG won on penalties, just before the resumption of the Champions League.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will be running the rule over these two sides ahead of this exciting UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
Tactics & Key Stats
Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick has not been dealt with any fresh injuries. And despite the impressive cameos from Kingsley Coman and Philippe Coutinho in the last match, the German is unlikely to make any changes to his starting XI.
Flick, however, will face a tactical dilemma as he needs to take into consideration, the pacy and sharp attack of Lyon. Unlike Barcelona, the French outfit has lethal and fast attacking options including Memphis Depay, Moussa Dembele and Karl Toko Ekambi.
All of these individuals are more than capable of providing a threat on the counter. So it will be interesting to see whether or not Bayern persist with their high defensive line consisting of Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Alphonso Davies.
In any case, there will be no change to the assigned roles of the two central midfielders in Thiago Alcantara and Leon Goretzka. Their technical prowess and an ability to sense danger could be key as the Bavarians look to avoid getting dominated in the middle of the park.
And finally, the Bayern Munich attack will be spearheaded by Robert Lewandowski, who will be partnered by the offensive trio of Serge Gnabry, Ivan Perisic and Thomas Muller.
These three players will operate in a free-flowing role, meaning all of them will have the freedom of switching positions in order to make it difficult for Lyon to appoint a man-marking scheme. Coman and Coutinho are other options available at the disposal of Flick.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Muller, Goretzka, Thiago; Perisic, Lewandowski, Gnabry.
Much like Bayern Munich, Lyon, too, will not have their chances of going through to the final complicated by any injury problems.
Rudi Garcia is likely to retain his tried and tested 3-5-2 formation, with the defensive trio of Marcelo, Jason Denayer and Marcal providing cover for goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. These three will undoubtedly employ a deep-defensive line and contain the pressure from the opposition attack.
Moving forward, the main task for the midfield trifecta of Bruno Guimaraes, Maxence Caqueret and Houssem Aouar will be to provide variety in the middle of the park. It will also be interesting to see how Flick looks to combat the numerical advantage Lyon may have in such regions of the pitch.
Aouar, in particular, has been unplayable, at times during possession phases. The Frenchman’s technical prowess, therefore, could be key in Lyon’s overall chance creation. He could also create problems for the Bayern defence with his long-passes and through balls.
Elsewhere, both the wing-backs in Leo Dubois and Maxwel Cornet will provide the width going forward and are essential elements in Lyon’s counter-attacking system.
And finally, in the attack, Toko Ekambi may still start ahead of Dembele, who scored a brace against Manchester City in the quarter-final while Depay is a guaranteed starter in the two-man attacking setup.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marcal; Dubois, Caqueret, Guimaraes, Aouar, Cornet; Depay, Toko Ekambi.
- Lyon manager Rudi Garcia is looking to become just the second French manager to lead a French team to the Champions League final, following Didier Deschamps with Monaco back in 2003-04.
- Bayern Munich and Lyon will meet in European competition for the ninth time, with the German side winning four of the previous eight (D2 L2). Indeed, the last time they met was also in the Champions League semi-finals, with Bayern winning 4-0 on aggregate in 2009-10.
- This will be Bayern Munich’s 12th appearance in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, with only Real Madrid (13) reaching the final four of the competition on more occasions; the German side have failed to progress from each of their last four semi-finals, since winning the competition in 2012/13.
- Lyon have not won consecutive Champions League matches in a single campaign since the 2011-12 season when defeating Dinamo Zagreb and APOEL Nicosia; 2019-20 is their fourth Champions League campaign since then.
- In their respective quarter-finals, Bayern’s Philippe Coutinho and Lyon’s Moussa Dembele both scored twice as 75th-minute substitutes. They now both jointly hold the record for fewest minutes played in a Champions League knockout match while scoring at least twice (15 minutes).
Player to Watch
Lyon have come thus far thanks to a collective effort and sheer determination from their players. And while the same can be said for Bayern Munich as well, it would be unfair to deny the impact Lewandowski has had this season.
Currently the leading scorer of this edition of the Champions League, the Pole has scored in eight consecutive UEFA Champions League appearances for Bayern Munich – only Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 (9) and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 (11) have scored in more successive matches in the competition’s history.
Lewandowski, surprisingly, scored only one goal in the 8-2 rout over Barcelona. But his overall influence was far greater. And the Bayern striker may once again have to move out of his comfort zone and work hard to create chances if he is to help his side steer through and reach the final for the first time since 2013, when he incidentally had to play against Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich 4-2 Olympique Lyon
It is a difficult game to predict given the form both the sides have shown in the Champions League so far. However, there is a substantial gulf in quality between the two sides, which may result in Bayern Munich dominating possession while Lyon is likely to defend deep and rely on counters.
The Bavarians are destined to concede a goal or two and this may yet again turn into a goal-fest, although we do expect the Germans to pull through, in the end. A 4-2 thriller!