UEFA CHAMPION LEAGUE
Maxime Gonalons said sightseeing is off the menu when Lyon faces Juventus in Turin looking to salvage their Champions League campaign this evening.
Lyon went down 1-0 at home to 10-man Juve two weeks ago after Alexandre Lacazette had a penalty saved by Gianluigi Buffon, with Juan Cuadrado scoring the winner for the visitors.
The defeat left Bruno Genesio’s men third in Group H, four points behind both Juve and Sevilla, and needing all three points on Wednesday to maintain a realistic chance of reaching the last 16.
A Juventus victory, coupled with a Sevilla win over Dinamo Zagreb, would see the Italians and the Spaniards advance to the last 16, and leave Lyon battling with Dinamo for third place and a Europa League spot.
Gonalons, however, was defiant at the same time as he labelled Buffon a “monument” ahead of what will be the veteran goalkeeper’s 100th Champions League appearance.
“Buffon is a monument in Turin. In the home game he broke our hearts. He’s class, and we have a lot of respect for him,” Gonalons said.
“It’s going to be difficult. They’re top of Serie A and they’re doing well in the Champions League, but we’ll do everything we can to cause problems for Juventus.”
Lyon have struggled this season but arrived in Italy fresh from a morale-boosting 2-1 win away at Toulouse at the weekend in Ligue 1.
Gonalons added: “We’re not coming here as tourists, we’ve come to try and win this match. Football can throw up a few surprises, sometimes when you’re the underdog you come up with a great performance just when you need it.”
History is not on Lyon’s side – they have lost their last four games against Italian opponents and were beaten home and away when the sides met in the Europa League quarterfinals in 2014.
Juventus, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last 18 home matches in Europe but Genesio believes his side can cause the Italian champions problems.
“I don’t see why we can’t have the same game plan as we did against Toulouse,” said Genesio.
“But I want to see improvements in terms of our technique, our passing and ball control.
“I have faith in my players. The home game (against Juventus) comforted us in the sense it showed us we can put them in danger.
“We lacked a few, important details in that game on Wednesday (today) we’ll be going for it.”