Saturday 25 February 2017

Ederson eyes Euro prize as Lyon face final-day crunch clash

Samuel Petrequin

Seven-time French champions Lyon will guarantee a place in the Champions League qualifying stages by beating Monaco on Sunday, but even that seems unlikely to keep coach Claude Puel at the club.

After a topsy-turvy season, third-placed Lyon travel to relegation-threatened Monaco with a two-point advantage over Paris Saint-Germain as they look to qualify for the Champions League for the 13th straight year.

Lyon wasted a chance to book their ticket when held to a disappointing 0-0 home draw by Caen last weekend and Brazilian midfielder Ederson now says the match in Monaco will be "like a final".

"We just need to stick together and remain united," Ederson said. "It will be tough, because the outcome of our whole season rests on one match. But we have everything we need to get the win. Our fate is in our hands."

Puel has come under increasing pressure this season, with many fans calling for his resignation. Lyon haven't won any silverware since Puel took over from Alain Perrin, who led Lyon to the league and French Cup double in 2007-08.

threatening

Before last week's match, about 500 fans held a protest at the club's headquarters and threatening inscriptions were found on the walls of the residence where Puel used to live in Lyon, prompting the coach to file a lawsuit.

This season, Lyon got off to a terrible start and the club -- hampered by injuries and France playmaker Yoann Gourcuff's poor performances -- didn't recover in time to match the pace of Lille and Marseille in the race for the title.

Lille secured their first title since 1954 last weekend with a 2-2 draw at PSG, which also earned the club a first league and cup double in 65 years, while second-placed Marseille sealed direct qualification to the Champions League.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League would be catastrophic for Lyon, meaning a budget shortfall of about €25m.

Currently on a three-match winless streak, Lyon won't have an easy task at Monaco, who are facing the prospect of relegation for the first time since 1976.

"We'll have to play very cleverly, because Monaco also really need the points," Ederson said. "It'll be like a final. We have to win."

Monaco are 18th in the league and are among seven teams still fighting to avoid the drop. Lens and Arles are already down.

Also on Sunday, Lille will be celebrating their title triumph in front of their own fans against Rennes while defending champions Marseille could send Caen into the second division when they travel to the Normandy club.

Irish Independent

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