How sweet life is for OL at present, according to nuetral observers, and apparently there isn’t the slightest sign of trouble on the horizon…
With a five-point lead over second placed Marseille at the quarter way mark of Ligue 1, OL have already opened up an impressive lead the side has displayed the skill and the mental strength required as they go in search of further glory. After developping a stunning level of play in their opening seven games of the domestic competition, Lyon then had to dig deep into their menatl reserves to overcome Sochaux and Saint-Etienne.
The contrast is glaring against a Kiev side caught in a rut, a side that has twice shown that when things start to go wrong, there seems no way back (Steaua 1-4 and Real Madrid 1-5).
Good news always arrives from the East. If last season, Gérard Houllier’s side swept all comers from the East of France aside, the same can also be said of their continental counterparts.
In the Champions League, with the exception of AC Milan’s late show, Lyon hasn’t lost to a team situated to the east of the Stade Gerland since a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in 2000-01 and have brought back victories from Leverkusen (4-2), Munich (2-1), Prague (2-1), Bremen (3-0) and Bucharest (3-0).
The statistics continue: since losing to Porto in the 2003-04 quarter-finals, Lyon has scored at least one goal every time they ventured long from the Stade Gerland.
Added to that is the current perilous situation of Tuesday’s opposition Dynamo Kiev who currently occupy the last place in Group E with two straight defeats and two goals scored for nine goals conceded!
However there is nothing the world of football knows better, or loves more than the unpredictable nature of its sport. And few are as well versed in its capricious nature than OL president Jean-Michel Aulas: “We have to be especially focused during this period when the good results keep coming. That’s confidence, but also avoiding getting comfortable and that will lead to a good result against Kiev.”
They will have to compete also with a Ukrainian football culture on the rise. Not just happy with qualifying for their first ever World Cup in June, The Ukraine reached the quarter-finals.
Certainly Dynamo Kiev, formerly ‘the pride of the nation’, is not in a financial position to be able to retain its best players who impress on the international scene. Certainly no current player is likely to win this year’s Ballon d’Or and certainly Andriy Shevchenko’s shirt is far and away more popular on the streets today than any of the squad’s lesser known names. But perhaps the flavour of past glories and that amazing stadium – the 83,000-seater Olympic Stadium, might just inspire a team that has nothing more to lose.
But with a hostile environment and an unfamiliar cold, Juninho and Co. will have to be doubly attentive and live up to the expectations placed in them to reach their goal of nine points from three games.