Lyon begin the day in third, six points behind LOSC in second with six left to play for, but with a significantly inferior goal-difference. Over their shoulder are Derby du Rhône rivals AS Saint-Etienne, four points back.
A win against Caen would therefore guarantee Les Gones third place this season, which brings with it a place in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.
OL’s men may have struggled to match their women’s team this season – Les Lyonnaises going for their fourth consecutive UEFA Women’s Champions League on Saturday – but the men winning on the same day will go down as a resounding success for the outgoing Bruno Génésio.
Lyon have been in third uninterrupted since the Week 21, when they beat ASSE 2-1 at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. They took a huge step to ensuring that they would stay there come the end of the season in beating Olympique de Marseille 3-0 last Sunday, but the coach is taking nothing for granted.
“Are we in the Champions League yet? No,” Génésio – ever the pragmatist – said after a Maxwel Cornet brace and Moussa Dembélé strike fired them to victory at the Orange Vélodrome. “There are two games left, six points, and we must win next Saturday to be certain of a third-place finish.
“We had two goals at the start of the season. The first was to get to the knockout stage of the Champions League, which we achieved, and the second was to qualify for next season’s competition, which is nearly done.”
Génésio is sweating on the fitness of first-choice defenders Jason Denayer and Kenny Tete due to knee and ankle injuries respectively, although Rafael returned against OM and could take Tete’s spot at right-back, while left-back Jérémy Morel impressed alongside Marcelo in centre.
Although they are 15 places better off than Caen with twice as many points, Lyon are unlikely to find the Normandy club easy to roll over. Malherbe have won three of their last four, and could pull out of the relegation places altogether if they can beat AS Monaco’s result against Amiens SC.
Fabien Mercadal’s men can take heart from their previous league meeting with Lyon, too, having held Les Gones to a 2-2 draw last September. Their 3-2 win over recent European aspirants Stade de Reims on Saturday was particularly impressive, and Génésio’s opposite number is upbeat.
“We knew we’d have to go on a run like this and we’re programmed to keep going until the very end,” he said after Casimir Ninga, Fayçal Fajr and Frédéric Guilbert goals ensured victory. “We’re focused on our game, not the table, even if we know the situation and we know what position our rivals are in, and the points gap. -AFP