Looking ahead to tonight’s Champions League quarter-final
Lyon v PSV Eindhoven
Kick off: 19-45 from the Stade Gerland.
These two teams have been dubbed the weakest teams left in the Champions League, so neither have a huge amount of pressure on them, with progress to the semi-finals a bonus.
There seems to be pattern developing in the competition with a surprise package outlasting some of the more fancied teams. Last year it was Monaco with Fernando Morientes in outstanding form. Whichever team progresses from this ties, they will be hoping they can emulate what Monaco achieved twelve months ago.
Lyon have been superb all season in the Champions League and one wonders whether Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is wishing he offered Sylvain Wiltord a better contract, since the free scoring Frenchmen has relished playing up front for manager Paul Le Guen.
Another player who has attracted a lot of attention for his impressive displays this season is Michael Essien. The Ghanaian central midfielder is a box-box midfielder who has a great engine on him; he scores, creates and breaks down opponents attacks, and looks set to become the complete midfielder.
A hero in homeland Ghana, Essien has been linked with many top European clubs, with English champions Arsenal the favourites for his signature. The other starlet in the team is Brazillian creative midfielder Juninho, a free-kick specialist who is exciting to watch, full of deception and trickery and with a deadly eye for goal. The midfielder will is another expected to seal a big money move to either Spain, England or Italy in the summer.
Paul Le Guen has the luxury of having a fully fit and suspension-free squad, a testimony to his superb organisational and managerial skills. Lyon are a fantastic side and should not underestimated.
PSV Eindhoven manager and South Korea’s 2002 World Cup hero, Guus Hiddink has nearly a fully fit side to choose from, with only midfielder John de Jong missing through injury.
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink will play in a lone striker’s role this evening. With 18 goals so far in the Dutch league and a call up to national side, the frontman is in good form and a predator-like mood, he will look for support from Mark Van Bommel and ex Barcelona midfielder Philip Cocu.
Van Bommel is another world class midfielder who is available in the summer, possibly on a free transfer. His performances for PSV for many years, especially his 13 goals from midfield in the Dutch League this league this season, have earned him a big continental club.
PSV have been extradordinary form domestically, currently lying ten points clear of second placed side AZ Alkmaar. The title is wrapped up, which is good news because they have been able to concentrate upon the Champions League tie with Lyon.
Lyon (from): Coupet, Reveillere, Cris, Cacapa, Abidal; Juninho, Essien, Diarra, Malouda, Wiltord, Govou.
PSV Eindhoven (from): Da Silva Gomes, Ooijer, Da Dias Costa, Bouma, Young-Pyo Lee, Mark van Bommel, Vogel, Cocu, Ji-Sung Park, Vennegoor of Hesselink, Farfan.