Follow the Ball – Game 14: Stade Rennais vs Lyon

After an impressive start to their reign as Follow the Ball champions, Lyon will no doubt have no idea whatsoever what this is and pay not attention to it at all be keen to keep their run going over the next few weeks of domestic action. Having played around with a number of potential scenarios, there is a small chance I could return to European action with Paris Saint-Germain before the end of the season but that would require the runaway leaders of the French league to basically go all the way to the final of the Champions League. Instead I intend of fully embracing my new existence in French football.

Game 13: Lyon (c) 5-1 Guingamp
Ligue 1, Sunday 6th March 2016, Parc Olympique Lyonnais

Game 14: Stade Rennais vs Lyon
Ligue 1, Sunday 13th March 2016, Roazhon Park

It was a game of three thirds – I have no idea if that is a well-known cliché but I’m going with it – as Lyon looked comfortable for the opening 60 minutes and then let the game slip away from them as Rennes battled back to draw the game.

The visitors were really sharp in the opening half with Rachid Ghezzal being their stand-out goal threat. It looked like they were just continuing their solid work of the last few weeks when Ghezzel drew a couple of saves out of the goalkeeper and Alexandre Lacazette hit the post. Eventually they got their deserved lead – scored from a really counter attack – with Maxwel Cornet teeing the ball up for Ghezzal to get the goal that his opening 33 minutes deserved.

And when Lacazette scored Lyon’s second in the 54th minute it should have been the goal that allowed Lyon to build towards a third consecutive league win and third place in the Ligue 1 table. Instead it was the spark for Rennes to get their act together.

Having made two changes at half-time, Rolland Courbis was rewarded by seeing both of his substitutes scoring the goals that rescued the home team a point. The first was a good finish. With a high cross over the box, Fallou Diagne’s first time shot was well controlled but given the lack of power and tight angle, it was shot that Anthony Lopes should be expected to keep out.

The goal gave Rennes some impetus to push on whereas Lyon tried to push for their third – and meant there were gaps at both ends of the pitch to be exploited. This was the first time I’ve properly had a chance to see Ousmane Dembele and he had a pretty decent evening. He asked the Lyon defence plenty of questions and his movement for the equaliser was pretty exceptional. But for a good save from Lopes, it would have Dembele that slotted home the goal. Instead his shot was parried towards Jeremie Boga, who hooked the ball in via a mistimed block from Rafael.

Lyon did have a chance to score a third goal – Ghezzal once again denied by Benoit Costil – but a draw is probably just about right. Les Gones weren’t strong enough in defence to deserve all three points so had Rachid scored in injury time, it would have been unfair on Rennes for their improved performance in the second half.

Onwards with Lyon we go…

The Result: Rennes 2-2 Lyon

What’s next? Lyon vs Nantes in Ligue 1

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