For a few games, Peter Bosz has chosen to go back to a four-man defense. A certain stability has been restored but the building remains fragile.
Since his arrival last May, Peter Bosz has tried, tried a lot. May be too much. A follower of the three – or sometimes five – defense that he has often experienced in the Bundesliga in Dortmund, then Leverkusen, the Dutch coach begins his Lyon adventure with a four behind system.
In Ligue 1, Peter Bosz starts with a classic 4-3-3 with a defensive midfielder and two torchbearers. A system, however usual in the Rhône, but which does not work. The former BVB changed tactics after his first two league games: a draw against Brest, a heavy defeat at Angers. Only one goal scored and four conceded in two games.
Haste, then wait-and-see
In search of a first victory with the Gones, Peter Bosz then installs the 4-2-3-1, with Houssem Aouar in support of Moussa Dembélé. A 1-0 victory in Nantes before the international break in September, then a success against Strasbourg during the 5th day of Ligue 1.
A tactical scheme used during 13 of the following 14 matches, and which has proven itself. Eight wins in those 13 games. Then Peter Bosz will try a shot. Against Rennes, the former Leverkusen coach decided to return to his 4-3-3, quickly abandoned at the start of the season after two inconclusive results. He adds density to the midfield by establishing Bruno Guimaraes, Thiago Mendes and Maxence Caqueret. Houssem Aouar is aligned on the wing, Lucas Paqueta is up front. Total fiasco, Lyon took on water and lost 4-1 at Roazhon Park.
From change to the slightest hitch
After this slap, Peter Bosz innovates – again – with a flat 4-4-2 against Brondby, establishing four attackers. Paying result against a weak Danish team. Lyon won 3-1 with a brace from Rayan Cherki. The former Ajax coach immediately returns to his 4-2-3-1 after this parenthesis in the Europa League. A system that he abandoned after two games and a setback in Reims (2-1), to install a three-man defense. A system which is struggling to settle and OL which has had five games without a win in all competitions.
SEE ALSO – Ben Yedder’s nice goal with Monaco against Lyon on February 5 (2-0)
After this month of December without success, Olympique Lyonnais is having a thunderous start to the year 2022. A draw against Paris Saint-Germain, followed by three successes in the league including one in the derby against Saint-Etienne and one against Marseille after the late match of the 14th day. However, Peter Bosz’s 3-4-2-1 tirelessly runs out of steam. The balance sheet is good but the quality of play is close to nil. Two 1-0 victories thanks to two penalties converted by Moussa Dembélé (Troyes, then Saint-Etienne) and a sluggish – but above all unexpected – success when they received OM (2-1).
Taking advantage of his good balance sheet, the Gones coach maintains this three-man defense and this tactical scheme, despite the offensive weakness. The sequel seems already written. A 2-0 loss to Monaco after an OL non-match. Two goals conceded in less than 30 minutes during the first period. Peter Bosz made a triple change after the break, notably launching the two winter recruits Tanguy Ndombélé and Romain Faivre. There is better to start.
Back to basics… and to problems
Taking advantage of the arrival of the former Brestois, considered a right winger, the OL tactician reinstalls his 4-2-3-1. The midfielder under contract with the Spurs is integrated into the double pivot, Lucas Paqueta finds a role of number 10.
However, defensive instability remains in the Lyon team. Sinaly Diomandé injured, Damien Da Silva disappointing, central defenders available and at the level are becoming increasingly rare in Lyon. Especially since Peter Bosz will make choices, strong but debatable. After disciplinary problems, the Dutch tactician dismisses Jerome Boateng from the group. The German defender, who no longer has his level of world champion, displayed a correct level. He has not played since that famous match against Monaco on February 5th.
Jason Denayer was kicked out of the group during the match against Lille, probably for contractual reasons (he is at the end of his contract). The Lyon coach decides to establish Thiago Mendes. The Brazilian sometimes aligned three behind, this time takes place in the right axis. A losing choice since the former LOSC player is directly at fault on Lille’s only goal on February 27 (1-0 defeat).
Lopes and Lukeba, only defensive satisfactions
This season, few defenders are showing their ambitions – at the start of the season – for Lyon. Léo Dubois and Emerson are very offensive and leave largesse in their lanes. Henrique is neutral enough to make Switzerland blush. At 33, Damien Da Silva is still making chick mistakes while Jerome Boateng and Jason Denayer – when they’re on the pitch – seem to have their minds elsewhere.
Sinaly Diomandé, however satisfied with the first part of the season, appears to be plastered by his coach. Absent from the field for two months, he has played only one minute since his return five games ago. On the right, the young Malo Gusto undergoes the hierarchy and the law of Peter Bosz who prefers Léo Dubois to him.
The only thinning of this second part of the season is called Castello Lukeba. At 19, the young Lyon central defender boldly took his chance and never left the Rhone axis. Great satisfaction from the preseason, the native of Lyon started the first two Ligue 1 games before disappearing from the radar. Taking advantage of the absences and mishaps of his teammates, Lukeba has chained 11 straight starts in the league since December and now appears to be an unstoppable. For his first season with the pros, he displays a breathtaking calm and serenity, reminiscent of the beginnings of a certain … Samuel Umtiti.
The other good news in defense for the Lyonnais is the return to the highest level of his goalkeeper. Anthony Lopes multiplies top-flight performances and regains the level of his best years in Lyon. At 31, the last rampart of Les Gones has turned into a wall on many occasions. Last December, he was among the most decisive goalkeepers in Europe. However, a brilliant goal is often a reflection of a struggling defense.
This season, Olympique Lyonnais have already conceded 32 goals in 26 Ligue 1 games, for a total of only 34 goals scored. Last season, OL finished the league with 81 goals scored and 43 conceded.