Lyon v Ajax
Thursday May 11, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 3
With the Champions League places now an impossible dream, Lyon's entire season now hangs on just one game. Against an Ajax team in full flow last week, they failed to stand their ground. Their frailties were exposed at set pieces and in open play, and without the injured Alex Lacazette, they lacked a focal point in attack.
This second leg at the new Parc OL should be significantly different. Lyon beat AZ, Roma and Besiktas in France, and their superb crowd helped them come back from a goal down in the latter two matches.
Lyon have won eight of their last ten home matches in all competitions. Of the two games they lost in that time, one was to Ligue 1 leaders Monaco, and the other was an admittedly comprehensive thrashing by Lorient (Lacazette and Mathieu Valbuena were both rested).
Lyon have no major absentees, and although Lacazette still isn't 100% fit, he will surely start. Corentin Tolisso,Mouctar Diakhaby and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa are in contention after they were rested for the weekend's 3-2 win over Nantes.
After a slow start that put early pressure on new boss Peter Bosz, this could prove to be a sensational season for Ajax. Feyenoord's implosion at Excelsior on Sunday means the Amsterdam giants still have a shot at winning the title, and their wonderful performance against Lyon last week has put them within touching distance of the final.
Ajax have found a lovely balance to their team. Lasse Schone and Davy Klaassen provide the energy and drive in midfield, while the outstanding Hakim Ziyech has great technical ability and can spray passes with great accuracy. In attack, Amin Younes and Bertrand Traore never stop running and trying to take defenders on, while teenager Kasper Dolberg showed remarkable composure to score his team's second goal in the first leg.
The weakness is in defence, despite the emergence of teenage sensation Matthijs De Ligt. There is a soft centre there which Schalke came very close to making the most of in the quarter-finals. It's worth remembering that Ajax took a 2-0 lead to Gelsenkirchen, lost 2-0 in the second leg, and went 3-2 down on aggregate in extra time before recovering to score twice.
Ajax have lost in Copenhagen and Gelsenkirchen in the previous two rounds, and they have won just one of their last six games on the road. Although they have a 4-1 first-leg lead, they know they will come under severe pressure from Lyon, and the key may be whether Bosz's men can score a precious away goal. They have scored at least once in ten of their last 12 away games.
Lyon are trading at 1.68 for the outright win, but I think we can be bolder than that and back them -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at [2.05]. I just get the feeling that Lyon will click, get the crowd involved and give this a real go, and this young Ajax side are nowhere near as convincing away from home than they are in Amsterdam.
On that basis, you might look at Lyon's To Qualify price of5.70 as a back-to-lay opportunity.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
All seven of Lyon's Europa League games this season have featured at least three goals, and four of those matches have contained five goals or more, so I can understand why Over 2.5 Goals is a skinny 1.40, and Over 3.5 Goals is just above evens at 2.02.
Back Lyon -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.06
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