In Lyon, the counters are reset

This Friday evening, at 9 p.m., Olympique Lyonnais will kick off the 2022-2023 Ligue 1 season by hosting AC Ajaccio at Groupama Stadium with many questions in mind. Deprived of Europe after a missed exercise, the Gones and more particularly their coach, Peter Bosz, will be scrutinized very closely. And for good reason: the Dutch tactician no longer has any leeway.

This time, no more excuses. Miraculously retained in his position as coach a month and a half ago during the official presentation of John Textor, the new shareholder of Olympique Lyonnais, Peter Bosz begins the 2022-2023 season with zero credit in his pocket. The disastrous results of last year (eighth in Ligue 1, expelled from the 32are final of the Coupe de France and humiliated in the quarter-finals of the Europa League) still weigh in all Lyon’s heads – including that of Jean-Michel Aulas – and uncertainty hangs over the Dutch coach’s ability to guide a competitive workforce – on paper – in the upper echelons of France. So, at the dawn of facing Ajaccio and launching this new Ligue 1 exercise, Bosz has only one option in hand: to win.

The highway of happiness or the descent into hell?

An objective certainly within reach of OL for the reception of the ACA but also for the rest of the season. During the official presentation of Textor, the latter insisted that OL were going to strengthen and aim high. “We want to win championships, Jean-Michel wants to come back to the European scene and win. I also want to win the Champions League” , even specified Textor. Words which, at first glance, seem trivial but were finally accompanied by actions, even though the current owner of Botafogo has not yet inflated the transfer budget: Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, two internationals trained at the club , returned, Tetê extends his stay on the banks of the Rhône, Johann Lepenant will cut his teeth in a big club while Nicolás Tagliafico comes to fill the void in the left lane. Add to this a contract extension from Maxence Caqueret and that – on the right track – from Rayan Cherki and you get a Peter Bosz finally satisfied with the tools provided to him, with the exception of a number 6 still hoped for from here the end of the month, especially since the rare satisfactions of last season (Anthony Lopes, Castello Lukeba, Lucas Paquetá, Moussa Dembélé) are still in place when the new season begins.

Enough to feed ambitions, including a main one: to find, at a minimum, the Ligue 1 podium. “We are aware of the expectations of the supporters, but they also have hopeeven admitted Bosz at a press conference on Wednesday. We felt it at training sessions which were full. We will do everything to do better. » Without European competition, a ” bargain ” , the 58-year-old technician will be able to deploy his very energy-intensive tactical system without pushing his players to exhaustion, while relying on an interesting squad rotation, even if departures (Paquetá, Dembélé, Boateng, Aouar ) remain possible by the end of the transfer window. To make things easier, OL have a favorable schedule since on the first six days, they therefore host Ajaccio but also Troyes, Auxerre and Angers, while they will travel to Lorient and Reims. “There are always surprises at the start of the championshipnevertheless wanted to remind Bosz. When you look at our last season, we lost a lot of points against the smaller clubs. I want the players to be 100% focused. » Especially since Lyon has hardly filled its main gap: the defensive sector.

The floor is in defense

Despite the outbreak of Castello Lukeba, whose confirmation is awaited this season, OL often touched the ridicule on the defensive phases last year. However, the movements on the back line did not panic the counters this summer. Admittedly, Léo Dubois has packed his bags to join Galatasaray. What remains of Jérôme Boateng is still in the squad, Tagliafico and Malo Gusto are not all-risk insurance defensively – the young right-back does not even have a professional understudy – and Lukeba should be accompanied at the hinge by Thiago Mendes, who went from undesirable to “rookie” central defender in less than a year, while waiting to assess the level of Sinaly Diomandé after his long absence. Moreover, the preparation matches, whose irregular performances (four wins, one draw and three defeats) can be partly explained by the pre-season context, have nevertheless given a spotlight (seventeen pawns in eight matches ) in this fragile sector since Bosz took over. So this Friday, OL have every interest in starting on their feet against Ajaccio. Otherwise, the case could quickly get tougher to the point that an upside-down month of August could mark the end of the Bosz era.

By Fabien Gelinat

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