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Lyon look to break Italian hoodoo against Roma

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Corriere dello Sport (Valentina Clemente) The Europa League tie against Roma is becoming a kind of obsession for Lyon: not much is being said about it – people are talking about other things in the media (like the transfer market) – and president Jean Michel Aulas is ready to put the spotlight on himself if needs be, but the tension is palpable. The idea of defeat is starting to raise its head, a spectre in need of exorcism. History hasn’t been very kind to Lyon when facing Serie A teams and the statistics speak for themselves: nine defeats, six draws and seven victories in all. Even when playing at home, they have lost more than they have won (4 against 3, with another 4 draws). Lyon have been knocked out of European competitions six times by Italian sides; their only positive memory is of a two-legged affair against Lazio in the UEFA Cup in 1995/96, when the French side got the better of the Biancoazzurri by beating them 2-1 at home and 2-0 in the Olimpico.

However, it isn’t all bad news for Bruno Genesio’s team as, coming into the game against Roma, the coach has his full squad available to him. Yesterday Rachid Ghezzal, Maciej Rybus and Nicolas Nkoulou rejoined the rest of the group yesterday, and these small details allow the coach to confront this Europe/league double header in a more relaxed manner (given that Lyon are at risk of losing 4th place in the league after Bordeaux’s recent charge).

Much of the talk – as always – is about Mathieu Valbuena, who could be among the starting 11 on Thursday; he chose not to rest on the team’s last day off and instead went to training so that he could be in the best possible condition for the Europa League. The forward knows that he can be the difference and, right now, is trying to get back to full fitness so that he can be the real leader of a team that has spent months trying to find one.

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