Olympique Lyonnais – Juventus: Underdogs Lyon Shock Juventus (1-0)
Despite an up-and-down league campaign, on paper, Juventus were overwhelming favourites and expected to ease past a Lyon side wallowing in seventh place in Ligue 1. Instead, the home side dug in their heels and delivered a stunning upset in front of a raucous crowd at Stade Groupama.
Tactical analysis and match report by K.T. Stockwell.
A complex domestic season has seen Juventus underachieve in relation to their impressively high standards. New manager Maurizio Sarri has yet to deliver the brand of high-tempo football that made him a desirable manager during his time at Napoli. The inimitable Italian skipper has been strident in his explanation for the perceived lack of dynamism – clarifying the differences between the two squads and their various and conflicting player profiles.
Nonetheless for all the tactical adjustments and readjustments, Sarri approached the first leg of his side’s matchup with Olympique Lyonnais with his familiar 4-3-3 formation, stepping away from the 4-3-1-2 shape that has been heavily used this season. The backline featured Alex Sandro and Danilo, who were flanking center-backs Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt. In midfield, a triumvirate of Adrien Rabiot, Miralem Pjanić and Rodrigo Betancur supported an attacking line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado.
Opposite to Sarri was Rudi Garcia, a manager who has invoked similar frustration from the Lyonnais faithful. The exasperation is understandable, as Lyon entered the match sitting seventh in the league table and seemingly unable to find anything resembling consistent form.
It was perhaps in a bid to offset that inconsistency that Garcia elected to revisit the 3-4-1-2 formation he used . . .