If French club Olympique Lyon is going to play in the European Champions league next season they may have to win it this year. They’ll have a chance of advancing to the quarterfinal stage at least on March 7 when they travel to Cyprus to take on Apoel in Nicosia in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie at the Neo GSP Stadium. Lyon heads into the game with a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
However, the French team has been struggling in their domestic league and after being beaten 2-0 in Nancy on the weekend are now 15 points behind league-leading Paris St. Germain and are seven points out of third place, which they need to reach if they hope to return to the Champions League again next season. Of course, if they won it this year they’d qualify automatically as champions.
Lyon has been a pretty weak road team this season and has lost eight of their 14 away matches in the French league. The goal lead will obviously help them a little, which came courtesy of Alexandre Lacazette in the first leg.
Apoel has been a surprise in the Champions League this season and have lost just twice Europe in their past 11 games, which was 2-0 to home to Shakhtar Donetsk after they had already qualified for the knockout stage as well as the loss to Lyon. They’ve managed to earn wins over Porto and Zenit St Petersburg in that stretch of 11 games.
Jean-Michel Aulas, the president of Lyon had a dig at his team recently by saying they lack vivacity, physical strength, and enthusiasm. He also said the team makes too many mistakes and doesn’t create enough scoring chances. He added that they lose games they shouldn’t and have been quite disappointing so far this season. He said the squad needs to regroup mentally for the game against Apoel and after criticising his team, strangely said the players shouldn’t be listening to negative comments.
Apoel is the first team from Cyprus to get this far in the Champions League. Their Brazilian striker Ailton said it’s a great accomplishment, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet with many of the nation’s fans as they don’t realize just how successful the team is. He said the team has gotten this far due to the players’ commitment to each other and their excellent teamwork.
Apoel will have to be aware of Lyon’s Bafetimbi Gomis who has six Champions League goals so far while Ailton has three for Apoel. Apoel has won just once in their past five games to go with two losses and two draws. Lyon’s record is even worse with one win, three losses and a draw.
Apoel will have Aldo Adorno and Marcelo Oliveira in the squad after missing the first leg, but Helio Pinto will have to sit it out due to a suspension. Lyon will be missing Yoann Gourcuff due to injury, but Dejan Lovren should be back in the squad.
Apoel Nicosia vs Lyon Betting
Look for a close game, but Apoel might surprise the French club and keep their fantasy season alive by advancing to the next round.
Sportsbook William Hill’s latest odds have an Apoel win at 21/10 with a Lyon victory at 7/5 and a 90-minute draw at 21/10.