Toulouse 0- Lyon 0 : review

Makoun's sending off : game changer

A poor game between Toulouse and Lyon at Stadium Municipal ended in a unattractive 0-0, with only a few chances for Toulouse and Lyon proving that they are not yet in top form. The Gones, with a victory, could have made it to 6 points behind Bordeaux in the table but didn’t take advantage of the opportunity that Lille’s and Bordeaux missteps offered them.

Lyon started a pretty surprising lineup, with new signing Dejan Lovren, normally a center-back, playing at left back (and having a solid match), ACN-returning Jean II Makoun starting in the midfield with Maxime Gonalons who filled in for the suspended Jérémy Toulalan, and finally Lisandro Lopez starting at left offensive midfielder, a position he admitted not being too fond of, but that leaves room upfront for Bafétimbi Gomis to make use of his body and hold up balls.

Toulouse, also surprisingly, did not start newly recruited Kazim-Kazim Richards, or Etienne Didot, Paulo Machado or Frank Tabanou, going instead with the speedy Brazilian Luan on the left flank, and pairing up Pantxi Sirieix and Mathieu Berson in the midfield. I’m sure Toulouse would have caused more problems to Lyon had they started those more incisive players that are able to deliver quality passes, but will let it up to Toulouse head coach to explain – or not – his decision.

None of the two teams will be satisfied with the game they produced. Toulouse will have to feel that they could have done so much better, especially Luan who will kick himself for missing a one-on-one with Hugo Lloris after sprinting through the Lyon defense over 60 meters. Gignac will also blame himself for trying a very daring chip over Lloris earlier on, in the first half. Lyon showed virtually nothing except for corner kicks and an opportunity that Gomis skyrocketed into the stands.

Other than that, the game didn’t have much to show but for the fact that Jean II Makoun is getting worse and worse for Lyon. He missed 90% of the passes he attempted, and could have gotten a red card much earlier than at the 67th minute. Makoun is not in shape after coming back from Angola where he played for Cameroun, and Toulalan’s presence was once again missed, even if Maxime Gonalons is gradually stepping it up and proving that he is a viable alternative for the future.

The first half was fairly balanced, Lyon and Toulouse taking turns in possession, but not creating much with the ball. Toulouse was probably more dangerous as Braaten and Luan used their speed and dribbling skills to endanger Lyon’s defense, but didn’t consistently create dangerous situations. The second half started off a better foot for Lyon, and except for Luan’s huge miss, the Gones had been holding the ball with Cesar Delgado doing damage thanks to his technical skills in small perimeters and ability to quickly turn around and face goal. Makoun’s sending off was therefore a turning point, which forced Lyon to do nothing else but defend, except for the occasional unproductive counter. But Toulouse didn’t take advantage of being a man up and even if they put more pressure on Lyon’s defense, they weren’t able to create very dangerous chances. Had Toulouse been in a better day – or a better team, sorry Dave – Lyon would probably have lost this game.

Lyon still managed to grab a point out of this match and will be happy with it. They are not sitting at the 4th position in the table, 8 points behind Bordeaux, 5 behind Montpellier with yet another strong victory, and only 1 point from Lille who seems to be slowing down after tearing everything apart in November and December. Lyon therefore can still have hope for the podium, and maybe even for the title. They next play host to Lens on Saturday, a game Jean II Makoun will miss (thank you, gods of soccer) and that will show whether Lyon can still have title dreams this season.

Toulouse will be disappointed they didn’t win this, especially since playing with a man up from the 67th minute, but they didn’t show enough to scare a Lyon defense which remained solid throughout the game. They are 10th in the table, 6 points behind the last European Cup spot, and will need a better second half of season in order to hope playing the Europa Cup next year.

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