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Lyon expects its executives Memphis Depay, Lucas Paqueta and Anthony Lopes to make the difference against Monaco on Sunday (9:00 pm), a match that will be crucial to secure a place on the podium of Ligue 1 and return to the Champions League, OL’s number one objective.

Beaten by Lille on Sunday (3-2), four points behind AS Monaco (3rd) and eliminated in the quarter-finals of the French Cup by the same Monaco (2-0), Lyon is not in a position to take on this match of the 35th day of Ligue 1. But the Rhone club wants to believe in the image of its president Jean-Michel Aulas, very present in the preparation of the clash … provided that its major players are finally up to the task, which has not necessarily been the case in recent games.

« LIRE AUSSI – Rudi Garcia: « We will show that we can win against any team »

In Monaco, the coach Rudi Garcia will nevertheless still have to do without his Belgian central defender, Jason Denayer, absent against the Monegasques and Lille for a foot injury (arch). Also absent is the center-forward Islam Slimani, who scored a goal against Lille on Sunday and who will be absent at the Louis II stadium due to injury.

Depay and Paqueta, the redemption?
Author of two doubles against Angers (3-0) and Nantes (2-1), the Dutchman Memphis Depay is obviously expected in the big games. With eighteen goals in Ligue 1 but only seven in the return phase (4 assists), the captain was ineffective as much in Marseille (1-1) as at home against PSG (2-4), Lille or Monaco in the French Cup. His performances are questionable as he intends to join a major European club at the end of his contract on June 30. According to the regulations, he could even join the team of his choice on January 1st. He may have already done so. As for the Brazilian Paqueta, the man in form in the second half of the season, he had the misfortune to be directly involved in Lille’s second goal on Sunday before being replaced in the process.

Already in Marseille, he was sent off in the second half and against Monaco, on April 21, his activity had been rather neutral. This slump seems unwelcome at this point of the season, but with five goals and three assists in Ligue 1 in the return phase, he probably has the means to redeem himself on Sunday at the Louis II stadium. « It’s not just the goals scored that count, » pleads coach Rudi Garcia. « If we talk about the defenders, it is rather the defensive rigor and if we talk about the strikers, there are also the decisive passes », he underlines. However, other major players seem to be below their capabilities as the goalkeeper Anthony Lopes who, without being at fault for the goals conceded, struggles to be as decisive as before.

Ben Yedder and Volland unavoidable
Monaco does not have this type of reflection at the moment and can count, offensively, on the efficiency of Wissam Ben Yedder (18 goals, 7 assists) or of the German Kevin Volland (15 goals, 7 assists). But four important elements will still be missing: Aleksandr Golovin, Gelson Martins (Covid-19), Sofiane Diop (ankle) and Stevan Jovetic (calf), injured in Lyon, the second in the warm-up. « I obviously want to give everything. We have a lot of confidence right now. We want to win this game, » said Volland, « fresh and available to be ready to fight.

Behind and in midfield, Djibril Sidibé is back to his best, while youngsters Benoit Badiashile, Aurélien Tchouameni and Youssouf Fofana have revealed themselves over the season to the point of being indispensable, like Maxence Caqueret recently in Lyon. And the stakes of Sunday’s clash are simple: either OL wins and maintains the hope of finding Europe by the big door of the Champions League rather than the modest Europa League, or Monaco contains the return of the « Gones » and consolidates its place on the L1 podium.

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