Olympique Lyon vs CSKA Moscow – Thursday 15 March, 20:05 GMT/21:05 CET – Parc Olympique Lyonnaise, Lyon, France
Olympique Lyon could hardly have been more delighted with the first leg emerging from a testing period for the team with a significant advantage in the round of 16. Although they had only won three of the previous ten matches in all competitions before the trip to Moscow, they have now won two in a row for the first time in almost two months. Marcelo’s header put the Frenchmen in control of the overall tie, and although they were rarely troubled by a limp CSKA performance, they know the onus is now on their Russian visitors to produce the momentum.
Starman Nabil Fekir is still out injured, but this didn’t stop Bruno Genesio from naming a very attacking lineup last week. Bertrand Traore, Memphis Depay and Marcelo Diaz formed a front trio with strength, pace and ingenuity, and in the absence of hot-property Fekir, they all look set to continue together. Brazilian full-back Rafael has recovered from his brief injury and started in their weekend league win over Caen.
With the Europa League final to be played at their stadium in May, Olympique Lyon will have a little added focus to their efforts. Ligue Un standings see them comfortably in fourth place which would bring qualification for this tournament for next season, and although the obvious appeal of edging past Marseille into the lucrative Champions League dangling five points above them, the chance to make the final in front of their fans is too good to ignore.
CSKA are embroiled in a titanic tussle for Champions League qualification themselves with just two points separating their pack of four teams placed below league leaders Lokomotiv Moscow. After a thoroughly efficient two-legged victory over Crvena Zvezda in the previous round, thanks to an Alan Dzagoev goal on the stroke of half-time in Moscow, to have lacked a meaningful threat at home will have deeply disappointing.
Georgi Schennikov is back from injury at least, meaning a slightly unorthodox position of right back for Kirill Nababkin. Aleksey Berezutsky is highly likely to make a return as part of a back three having been rested from the starting XI in their most recent league outing at the weekend, but with the versatility of Pontus Wernbloom, there is a simple way for CSKA to revert to a back four if the situation requires.
Viktor Goncharenko can hold his head up high in Europe this season regardless of whether his side crash out at this stage. A riveting group stage campaign saw shock victories over Benfica and Basel away, which put a knockout stage qualification tantalisingly within reach, and the emergence of a handful of youth team products such as Konstantin Kuchaev, Timur Zhamaletdinov and Astemir Gordyushenko. Which tier of continental football they will all feature in next season could depend on their ability to pull off a second-leg comeback.
Olympique Lyon vs CSKA Moscow – Players to Watch
Bertrand Traore #10 – Olympique Lyon
The former Chelsea loan specialist frontman has formed part of a potentially devastating front line with his angular frame and sparkling turn of pace. Still only 22, he uses the ball with composure and maturity, qualities that have served him well as he has been positioned out wide in the attacking unit more often than not. CSKA’s survival in this competition depend upon keeping dangermen like Traore quiet.
Pontus Wernbloom #3 – CSKA Moscow
The giant combustible Swede is so versatile that the only line of positioning that he hasn’t been named in is in goal. He is likely to start in defence, but will most likely be thrown further forward if CSKA are still searching for a goal. Make no mistake though; his selection in a forward role is no fluke or novelty. His technical ability all over the pitch is vastly underrated, and it is hard to say where he will of greater benefit to his team.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Olympique Lyon vs CSKA Moscow – 1-1
Olympique Lyon vs CSKA Moscow – Match Stats
- Lyon are unbeaten in their last nine home European matches at home
- They were one of only three clubs to progress from the round of 32 having played the second leg away from home
- Lyon have lept just one clean sheet in nine home knockout fixtures
- CSKA have only failed to win two of their six European away matches so far this season
- They have lost all four of the ties where they have lost the first leg at home.
Olympique Lyon vs CSKA Moscow – Possible Lineups
Lopes – Tete, Marcelo, Morel, Mendy – Tousart, Aouar, Ndombèlé – Depay, Traore, Díaz
Manager: Bruno Génésio
Akinfeev – Wernbloom, A. Berezutskiy, V. Berezutskiy- Nababkin, Dzagoev, Natkho, Golovin, Schennikov – Musa, Vitinho
Manager: Viktor Goncharenko
Andrew Flint is an English freelance football writer living in Tyumen, Western Siberia, with his wife and two daughters. He has featured on These Football Times, Russian Football News, Four Four Two and Sovetski Sport, mostly focusing on full-length articles about derbies, youth development and the game in Russia. Due to his love for FC Tyumen, he is particularly interested in lower league Russian football, and is looking to establish himself in time for the 2018 World Cup. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMijFlint.