Champions League: Zenit aim for Lyon away win to clinch KO place

© Robert Pratta
Struggling Lyon will host free-scoring Zenit at the Stade de Gerland in Group H on Wednesday night, with the French side out to rescue their Champions League campaign after consecutive losses. A win would put the Russians into the knockout stage.

Already ten points behind Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, coupled with their plight at the foot of Group H, Olimpique Lyonnais are already attempting to rescue their season. They will have felt hard done by in the first leg against Zenit in St Petersburg, having had the majority of the possession and more shots on goal. Their reward was to see Andre Villas-Boas’ side score from all three of their attempts to claim a 3-1 win, leaving Lyon with just 1 point from three Champions League matches.

Lyon’s star striker Alexandre Lacazette has struggled in front of goal this season, scoring just three times so far, compared to 53 goals over the past two seasons in all competitions. However, Lyon have won three of their last four French league matches, conceding just one goal – in a 1-1 draw at Monaco.

© Robert Pratta

However, if Valencia beat Belgian side Gent in the other match in Group H, and Lyon fail to beat Zenit, the French side’s Champions League adventure is over.

Zenit, meanwhile, are unbeaten since August. Their last run-out came at home against Mordovia Saransk, which ended goalless. This was out of character for Villas-Boas’s side who had scored 15 times in the previous four games, including 5-0 and 5-1 back-to-back wins in the Russian top flight.

Brazilian striker Hulk is joint-second top scorer in this season’s Champions League with three, just behind Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the charts. He and summer signing Artyom Dzyuba are both in great form, with 10 and 11 goals, respectively, in all competitions. Things aren’t quite as rosy at the back, however, with Zenit conceding in each of their last three European fixtures.

© Maxim Zmeyev

A win for Zenit will secure their passage into the knockout stage – as group winners if Valencia fail to beat Gent. A win would also be a huge confidence boost ahead of their third-versus-second-place clash against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian top flight.

For Lyon, this will be one of the most important games of their season, with manager Hubert Fournier facing increasing pressure at the helm.

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