Nathan Staples writes a tactical analysis of the Ligue 1 match that ended Lyon 4-0 Toulouse.
After an indifferent start to 2017, Lyon are finally building up a head of steam. With five victories in their last six before the weekend, Bruno Genesio’s side had finally pulled out of the funk that has seen them sink further and further away from the prized Champions League places in Ligue 1.
In front of them was a young Toulouse side that themselves were unbeaten in their last six games, albeit with only two wins in that period. However, they had shown signs of attacking flair, notching four goals against Bastia and Angers, while also keeping a clean sheet at the Parc des Prince a few weeks previous.
However, this turned into a more comfortable result for Les Gones than many had predicted. The 4-0 scoreline suggests a walk in the park but Le TFC caused them a few issues and reminded many that despite their offensive output, Lyon still need to work on eliminating those individual errors.
Olympique Lyonnais (4-3-3): Anthony Lopes; Christophe Jallet, Emanuel Mamana, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Jeremy Morel; Maxime Gonalons, Jordan Ferri, Sergi Darder; Memphis Depay (Rachid Ghezzal 86’), Nabil Fekir (Mathieu Valbuena 71’), Maxwell Cornet
Toulouse FC (4-4-2): Alban Lafont; Steeve Yago (Ola Toivonen 52’), Issa Diop, Christopher Julien, Francois Moubandje; Somalia, Alexis Blin (Tongo Doumbia 49’), Oscar Trejo, Issiaga Sylla; Corentin Jean, Andy Delort (Jimmy Durmaz 72’)
Genesio named a much-changed side from their recent Europa League win over Roma, with seven changes to the starting eleven. The plan changed slightly, using the same 4-3-3 but with Ferri and Darder allowed to both be box-to-box players while Gonalons held the fort.
Pascal Dupraz, on the other hand, made a slight adjustment to recent outings as Martin Braithwaite was unavailable through injury. Instead, Le Violets opted for a classic 4-4-2, with Jean pushed up to partner Delort while Sylla and Somalia were tasked to play out wide.
This was also to put pressure on the Lyon defence, who have been prone to making individual errors this season. Delort would hassle them in the air and be his usual, irritating self while Jean would pick up the pieces in an attempt to drive at their defence.
That tactic worked pretty well in the first half, with Delort nabbing the ball from the feet of Jallet and hitting the post within seven minutes. A second counter-attack later on in the half also led to the woodwork being struck, with Jean almost out-foxing Lopes with a lofted effort that grazed the crossbar.
As shown in the above photo, the link-up between the two started off nicely and the three-on-three was exploited perfectly. With Mamana failing with a challenge, that could have even been a penalty had Delort gone down, Yanga-Mbiwa was required to react and with Morel occupied with a winger, the hole was perfect for Jean to run into.
Dupraz’s men failed to capitalise though and eventually Lyon’s possession advantage told. The opening goal looks to be more of a fluke, with Jallet simply arriving at the right time but this was actually set up in a number of ways.
First of all, both Lyon’s full backs had success going forward, with a lot of attention drawn to the attacking wingers. Jallet starts the attack very high, heading the ball in field before an excellent late run from Ferri splits the full-back and the centre-back.
The simple ball inside to Darder draws three defenders to the ball, with Diop intercepting the attempted strike into the path of Jallet. With him free in the box and Moubandje out of position, he blasts the ball home past Lafont.
From then on, Lyon were limited to shots from distance and Toulouse failed to really muster anything of note. Memphis was getting some joy from Yago and Diop regularly had to cover for the fullback but Le Violet saw out the half at 1-0.
It was then a huge mistake by Blin that really cost Toulouse the game. Straight after the kick-off, the midfielder misplaced a pass to Trejo woefully behind him and into the space vacated by Moubandje, who was looking to add width in an attacking sense.
Cornet’s pressing allowed him to pounce on the error, shaking off a feeble tackle from the Argentine tracking back and belting the ball beyond Lafont for the second. The Toulouse stopper can also be accused of not putting a firmer hand on this one, especially as he got a good palm on it, but the quality of the strike simply beat him to the punch.
The real killer blow came a few minutes later as Memphis finally got the goal he deserved. Another quality run from Jallet pulled him into a more central area while three players decided to stand and admire the French international’s ingenuity.
Diop then commits a cardinal sin for a defender, instead of holding his position in the line, the youngster inexplicably moves to meet Memphis, which the forward exploits to full effect. The huge gap in behind is open for the Dutchman to waltz into before finishing off the chance with aplomb.
The final goal was a real piece of quality from Memphis, who had been a menace all game, as he quickly looked up to spot Lafont had wandered off his line. The strike is sensational but at the same time, there’s no excuse for a goalkeeper that can’t stand in between his own goalposts.
This was the perfect example of the difference between a team with added quality and those without it. When you are a team like Lyon and have class footballers at the attacking end of the pitch, they tend to be good enough to win out close games when you need them.
For Toulouse, sometimes all the endeavour can matter for naught if you aren’t clinical enough to punish stronger opponents for making mistakes. There’s an argument that they could have done more to prevent the opposition and they were a tad unlucky on occasions, but that can really be the difference in encounters like this one.
As it always seems to be in football, take your chances when they come. If you don’t, expect to be punished and Lyon did that with real authority.
Read all our tactical analyses here
A Nottinghamshire-based football writer, Nathan Staples would talk about football all day if you let him. Featured on Get French Football News as a writer and podcaster.
Latest posts by Nathan Staples (see all)