Superb passing combinations by Lyon in wide areas bamboozle Toulouse

Superb passing combinations by Lyon in wide areas bamboozle Toulouse
Photo Credit To @lequipe

Les Gones made lightwork of Le Téfécé with Memphis Depay starring in a centreforward role.

The last Ligue 1 weekend saw Olympique Lyonnais cruise to a 2-0 victory over Toulouse at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. Despite missing Nabil Fekir through injury and Mariano Diaz through suspension, Lyon came up with a straightforward winning performance against Les Pitchouns.

The win is surely a massive boost for Lyon manager Bruno Genesio as it sees his side keep up with bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille in the battle for a Champions League spot. Moreover, the Les Gones boss would be happy with the fact that his side responded very well to the absence of two key players in Fekir and Diaz. In particular, the Dutch winger Memphis Depay exceled in a central role with his first-half brace securing the contest for Lyon.

Toulouse are in a patchy form of late and the defeat left them just a point outside the relegation places. While their run-in suggests their stay in the top flight lies in their own hands, Mickaël Debève should worry about the performance of Les Violets in the game. Toulouse completely failed to contain the attack of Lyon, especially in the first half. While their second-half performance improved, the glaring lack of defensive compactness may play a defining factor in their top-flight designs.

Lyon commence electrifying attack out wide

Lyon boasts one of the most promising frontlines in Europe and against Toulouse, they showed why. On the flanks, Lyon had Bertrand Traore and Maxwell Cornet and later on Myziane Maolida. With striker Mariano Diaz sidelined, Depay slotted into the central attacking role from his usual position on the left flank.

The wingers combined very well with the Lyon fullbacks Ferland Mendy and Rafael da Silva. They beat defensive overloads in the flanks through intelligent movement. The fullbacks drifted in or made overlapping runs depending on the wingers position while third-man runs from the Lyon midfield (Houssem Aouar and Tanguy Ndombele) aided the attack. These opened up passing lanes in tight spaces for Les Gones and with a collective gift of pace, their attack flourished.

Toulouse regularly stretched horizontally

Toulouse lined up in a 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1 shape and employed a man-marking system in the central area. Their shape allowed them to naturally mark the three-man midfield of Lyon. However, Lyon funneled their attacks through the wide areas, making Toulouse lose their central compactness.

But the defensive problems of Le Téfécé started in the high block. When Lyon bypass their zone-press, and Les Gones did many times, Les Violets were slow to get back into shape in the low block. This allowed a smooth build-up transition for Lyon into the final third, meaning Toulouse spent a lot of the first half defending in their own half.

The Lyon front three’s movement and their midfield’s forward runs consistently troubled the Toulouse defence. The centrebacks Issa Diop or Christopher Julien frequently ventured out of position, meaning defensive midfielder Yannick Calhuzac not only took on a screening role but also regularly filled in on centreback duties.

Les Gones wrap up maximum points through Depay

Lyon largely troubled Toulouse in this way although their opener came from neat defensive work. Les Gones executed a zone-oriented press throughout and forced long balls. As they won the ball back, it left Toulouse stranded defensively, leading to the first goal of Depay.

Gradually, Lyon’s impressive wingplay stretched the Toulouse defence horizontally. The dynamic superiority of Lyon in the wide areas saw the middle loosen up, presenting many pockets of space. Toulouse poor passing, allow Lyon to intervene easily and drive forward. After a while, the match became an end-to-end affair but Les Gones reasserted control by slowing down the tempo of the game. Eventually, after reestablishing authority, they doubled their lead via the spot.

Quick transitions from one end to another after the restart

After the restart, the contest certainly became more open. The midfield battle evaporated as the teams favoured quick transitions from one penalty box to another. Toulouse drove forward with more intent and purpose than in the first half. As Les Violets committed more bodies upfront, it forced Lyon to defend deep in turn. Max-Alain Gradel led Toulouse’s charge from the left. The winger produced couple of dangerous crosses in the box. Les Violets’ best chance came through Kelvin Amian’s low drive that forced a great diving save from Anthony Lopes who had a great game.

The Les Gones attack did not exactly click into gear early in the second half. Toulouse covered spaces better in the low block and closed down the passing lanes amongst the Lyon front three. The overall quality of play dipped although Lyon still produced sparkling moments from time to time.

Perhaps they should have had a second penalty in the match when Traore lost his right boot and fell to the ground after Fortes caught his heel from behind but the referee did not blow his whistle. Late on, Lyon had chances to add a third but Alban Lafont saved Amine Gouiri’s curling effort away at full stretch while Aouar dragged his shot wide while all alone in the area. But this was all academic in the end as Lyon had done the damage in the first half.

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