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Champions League security becoming a struggle for Lyon

Wednesday 15th February 2012
Lyon have been involved in the Champions League for the last 12 seasons. but now they face the risk of not qualifying for next season's competition as they find themselves trapped in a race for third with Lille, Stade Rennais, Marseille and Saint-Etienne.

All five clubs are within three points of each other but it is Lille who are top of the pile and in the driving seat as they have a game in hand. Lyon still have the capabilities to finish third but still competing in the Champions League, Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue may hinder their chances. It may well be the case that they have to qualify for the Europa League through a 4th place finish or via triumph in one of the cups.

PSG and Montpellier have now created a gap at the top which seems unlikely to be bridged before the end of the season meaning either Marseille or Lyon, two of Europe's big clubs, could miss out. For the Lyon faithful this would be deemed unacceptable and manager Rémi Garde could be facing the exit door.

Lyon have always been a threatening proposition in Europe and it was only two years ago they reached the semi-final of the Champions League before being knocked out by Bayern Munich. They sit 14th in the recently compiled Deloitte rich list with a revenue of €146.1m. Lyon are therefore the richest of the French clubs and they sit one place above Marseille in the list. However, €29.1m of their income was generated from Champions League performances, this sum equates to approximately 20% of their revenue.

PSG's new found wealth and the loss of Champions League football could spell the end of a long period of dominance for Lyon, especially if Montpellier and Lille, who look like taking 3rd place, reap the rewards of competing in Europe's top club tournament.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for Lyon, they still have a good team capable of going on a run in the league to snatch the coveted third spot. It could be a highly successful season if they manage to go beyond the Quarter Finals of the Coupe de France and the Champions League. Garde's men also have the Coupe de la Ligue Final to look forward to, and victory at the Stade de France would guarantee Europa League football next season.

Lyon's next opponents in the Champions League are APOEL Nicosia, a team that they should be confident of beating. A kind draw for the next round would give them a real chance of reaching the Semi-finals, such a feat which would be seen as a success considering where the French giants are placed in the Deloitte rich list.

For Lyon failure to qualify for the Champions league may be forgiven if they can succeed in the cups, but the fans will certainly see it as a priority if they are to keep in touch with PSG.
Glenn Noble

Total articles: 20

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