A semifinal ticket in the Coupe de France is at stakes as Olympique Lyon play hosts to AS Monaco on Wednesday.
The absence of European football this midweek has paved the way for the resumption of Coupe de France as the Ligue 1 clubs look to prevent Paris Saint-Germain from sealing the coveted trophy once again this season.
Quite naturally, the current title challengers are set to offer Les Parisien the biggest threat in their bid to once again register a domestic table. And while LOSC Lille have already been knocked out, Paris will be keeping a close eye on the upcoming quarterfinal clash between two of their main rivals in AS Monaco and Olympique Lyon.
It promises to be an interesting encounter as both the clubs are still involved in the title race, trailing each other by just a point, with third-placed Monaco also just two points behind league leaders Lille. They have also enjoyed good form recently, with both clubs winning their last two league games.
Lyon, though, have had a fairly easier towards the quarterfinal of Coupe de France, having only beaten second or third-tier clubs in AC Ajaccio, FC Sochaux and Red Star respectively. Their opponent, in contrast, had to overcome the test of OGC Nice as well as FC Metz in their previous two rounds.
Nevertheless, past records are unlikely to play a key role in this encounter and it will also be interesting to see which one of these two clubs prioritise the Cup instead of the league title, knowing they simply cannot field their strongest eleven in light of their upcoming matches in Ligue 1.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this exciting quarterfinal in Coupe de France this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Derniers préparatifs pour nos Lyonnais ce mardi soir avant #OLASM ! 📸🔴🔵
— Olympique Lyonnais (@OL) April 20, 2021
With the Ligue 1 title still pretty much up for grabs, Olympique Lyon coach Rudi Garcia might want to make some rotation in midweek. One particular player favoured to start against Monaco is teenage prodigy Rayan Cherki, especially with Tino Kadewere being unavailable for this encounter.
Lucas Paqueta and Memphis Depay, though, are likely to remain in the team as they are an integral part of Lyon’s creative department that will look to offer the supply for Islam Slimani. These players are set to be tested up against a high pressing Monaco side, though.
In midfield, we are expecting a welcome start for Houssem Aouar, who marked his much-awaited return to the pitch on the weekend against Nantes. He is tipped to operate alongside Thiago Mendes in the double-pivot, with Garcia likely to provide a breather to Maxence Caqueret and Bruno Guimaraes.
Defensively, Sinaly Diomande may offer centre-back Marcelo some breather while Mattia De Sciglio and Melvin Bard could be part of the rotation policy that could see Leo Dubois and Maxwel Cornet make way.
Julian Pollersbeck, too, is tipped for a return in goal, as he currently holds the status of cup goalkeeper for Olympique Lyon. He will be hoping for his first clean sheet in the competition this midweek.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pollersbeck; De Sciglio, Denayer, Diomande, Bard; Mendes, Aouar; Cherki, Paqueta, Depay; Slimani
Much like Lyon, AS Monaco head coach Niko Kovac could be tempted to make changes in this Coupe de France fixture, starting from the goalkeeping position where Radoslaw Majecki could come in for Benjamin Lecomte.
Preparing our next challenge 👊
— AS Monaco EN (@AS_Monaco_EN) April 19, 2021
The former Bayern Munich boss is also expected to rest a few of his key defensive figures including Caio Henrique and Guillermo Maripan although Djibril Sidibe might continue at right-back, due to the absence of Krepin Diatta which could force Ruben Aguilar to operate upfront.
It could go hand in hand with Kovac’s usual wide-oriented approach, with the full-backs in Fode Ballo-Toure and Sidibe offering depth in the attack, allowing the wide midfielders in Aguilar and Aleksandr Golovin to drift into a more central role, joining forces with Kevin Volland in the number ten role.
Steven Jovetic, meanwhile, could spearhead the Monaco attack ahead of Wissam Ben Yedder while there might at least be one change in central midfield, with the young Florentino Luis giving a breather to an equally young and impressive Youssouf Fofana.
The Portuguese youngster will play a key role alongside Aurilien Tchouameni at the base of Monaco’s 4-2-3-1, although it won’t be surprising to see Kovac taking Tchouameni off even at half-time, rotating him with Fofana instead of taking too many risks in this contest.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Majecki; Sidibe, Disasi, Badiashile, Ballo-Toure; Florentino, Tchouameni; Aguilar, Volland, Golovin; Jovetic
- AS Monaco have not conceded a goal in their Coupe de France campaign, managing three back-to-back clean sheets in wins over Grenoble, Nice and Metz.
- Olympique Lyon, in contrast, have conceded in all of their three games in Coupe de France so far.
- AS Monaco slumped to a 4-1 defeat when they last met Olympique Lyon back in October.
- Lyon are unbeaten in their last four matches across all competitions (W3 D1).
- AS Monaco have won three of their four Coupe de France meetings against Olympique Lyon till date.
Player to Watch
Houssem Aouar is certainly the one worth keeping an eye on, having recently made his highly anticipated return to the pitch on the weekend. His return is a timely one for Lyon as we move towards the final stretch of the campaign, and with the Ligue 1 title still up for grabs.
Aouar, though, needs to settle into the game quickly and that is where this match could turn out to be an important one for the Frenchman, whose technical prowess, work ethic, aggression and ball-carrying abilities would be an ideal counter to Monaco’s intense pressing in the middle of the park.
Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Aouar performs this midweek, especially knowing how much his display could dictate Lyon’s fate in this contest.
Olympique Lyon 2-1 AS Monaco
This promises to be a tightly-contested fixture between two well-matched sides who have done well in the league this season. However, we tip Lyon to be slight favourites as they are likely to field a stronger squad, though largely due to lack of depth. And with Houssem Aouar back to full fitness, Les Gones will definitely be hoping to emerge as victors in this encounter.
Expect both sides to fight tooth and nail in search of the goals, while set-pieces may also play a key role, especially for the side that struggles to dominate in possession.