Lyon’s dominance dwindles after seven years

By Jerome Butcher
A trademark free-kick from Lyons specialist, Juninho

A trademark free-kick from Lyon's specialist, Juninho

Olympique Lyonnais have been crowned champions of Ligue 1 in France for the past seven seasons. An incredible display of pure dominance, which now appears to be coming to an abrupt end.

This season has been blown wide open with Lyon currently sitting in third place, seven points behind joint league leaders Marseille and Bordeaux. They have not won a match in four. Paris St. Germain have dropped off the pace with their latest 1-0 home defeat to seventh place Rennes but are still snapping at Lyon’s heels.

Bordeaux have played very well this season, producing a spirited display against Chelsea in the group stages of the Champions League. They disposed of Sochaux 3-0 this weekend with 22-year old Yoann Gourcuff scoring in injury time.

The young French international is about to enter negotiations to extend his loan contract from AC Milan. The 15 million Euro price tag and clause in his contract would allow Bordeaux to negotiate a permanent deal, however this seems unlikely, especially as AC Milan will have been keeping an eye on his brilliant performances.

Meanwhile Marseille, in an exciting game at home to Toulouse drew 2-2, with all four goals coming in the second half. They are top of the league only through goal difference, one better than Bordeaux.

Both these teams’ managers have won league titles during their careers as footballers. The Beligian Eric Gerets (8) has won 6 Ererdivisie titles with PSV and the Belgian League with Standard Liege. The Bordeaux boss, Laurant Blanc (3), has won the French league with Auxerre, and has one winner’s medal with Manchester United and also a Ligue 2 with Montpellier.

Both will be hoping to add a Ligue 1 trophy to their CV as managers. Gerets has won five championship titles (Dutch, Belgian and Turkish) as a manager meanwhile Blanc won his first trophy as manager; the French League Cup this season.

It seems that Lyon will have to take a long hard look at themselves and contemplate what went wrong this season. Winning the league remains their obvious priority, despite all their promise shown in the Champions League that has proved to be a bridge too far for the club. They do still have records to break. They have sort of been playing catch up in the last decade, especially as they have only ever won the title seven times in their history, less so than AS Saint-Etienne, FC Nantes and Olympique de Marseille.

Lyon have to beat third from bottom Nantes tonight if they want any chance of even retaining third place. Tomorrow Marseille visit Cote D’Azur rivals Nice in a local derby and Bordeaux visit newly promoted Valenciennes.


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