Tottenham tactics: Lyon vs Spurs preview

A week on from Gareth Bale striking two stunning free kicks to give us a first leg lead, we face a tricky trip to France for Lyon vs Spurs round two.

The French side will be confident having detonated Bordeaux 4-0 at the weekend, whilst we have had a week to prepare for this pivotal Europa League clash.

So, what should be the Tottenham tactics for Lyon vs Spurs this time?

Spurs vs Lyon midfield triangle

In the Tottenham tactics piece before the match at the Lane I wrote about the make-up of Remi Garde’s midfield being the key to the match. Would he go ultra-defensive with Maxime Gonalons and Gueida Fofana? Or would he roll the dice by including both Steed Malbranque and Clement Grenier?

Garde went for the former option, opting for two more defensive players with Steed Malbranque completing the trio in his 4-3-3.

Malbranque missed the match with Bordeaux at the weekend due to illness, so Lyon played with Gonalons, Fofana and Clement as the midfield triangle. With two goals in the game, Clement Grenier may well retain his place and he is an effective player at pulling the strings behind the front three.

He was a major reason behind Lyon’s victories early in the competition against Sparta Prague and Hapoel. Grenier is always looking for a through ball, as we can see from his stats zone chart against Sparta. Whilst not as aggressive away in Israel, he still attempts a number of through balls towards the penalty area, including an assist to create a goal highlighted by the yellow line.


Clement Grenier passes played vs Sparta and Hapoel.

He came on for Steed Malbranque in the first leg and it’ll be interesting to see if the former Spurs man gets the nod instead of, or alongside, Grenier here.

Movement of the Lyon front three

Whilst Remi Garde has options depending on how aggressive he wants to be in the midfield, up front we are pretty much certain to see the same front three. Bafetimbi Gomis, Lisandro Lopez and Alexandre Lacazette should occupy the forward slots and each operates in specific manner.

Alexandre Lacazette is the easiest to start with, as Lyon like to play down the right through him. He plays wide, hugging the touchline and looking to dribble past opponents. He is a threat to supply a cross, or as we saw at the Lane and also for his goal against Bordeaux at the weekend, to drive inside and fire a shot from the corner of the box.


Alexandre Lacazette passes received against Spurs and Athletic Bilbao.

Lisandro Lopez starts on the left and plays as a support striker.

He will play wide when the ball is in the midfield zone or when they lose possession. Once Lyon are able to work the play higher up the pitch through Lacazette on the right, he drifts in to more central areas in order to support Bafetimbi Gomis.

He was kept quite quiet in the first leg, but scored in this manner against Athletic Bilbao in the group stages and will be more of a threat at home this time.


Lisandro Lopez works his way from wide in to central areas.

Bafetimbi Gomis is at the centre of the two wider players, operating as a number nine. He is the focus for any long balls forward, creating knockdowns and holding the play up to get his team mates involved. He also likes to move out to the right side to take part in the build-up play with Lacazette. He then moves in to the box looking for a cross or return pass.

Gomis is a threat in the air, or to drive inside from the right-hand corner of the penalty area. He was effective at doing this in the group stages against Sparta and Bilbao, receiving the ball many times through the right side of the box. We also had a taste of this, when he almost won a penalty after Jan Vertonghen looked to have tripped him in the first leg.


Bafetimbi Gomis looks to receive the ball through the inside right channel in the penalty area.

Lyon vulnerable in the left back area

I looked at this in the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Lyon before the first leg due to the fact that other sides had enjoyed success in attacking through their left back zone.

At the Lane Spurs also had joy in create scoring chances through this area, as Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon were overlapping looking to get in behind Samuel Umtiti. After good interplay between the two Spurs right-sided players, Walker was able to square a pass on a plate for Gareth Bale, who missed an open goal.

The first leg had very few chances for either side, but Spurs best opportunities did come by looking to create from this area.


Spurs 2 Lyon 1: Tottenham look to get in-behind and create chances from the right.

The Tottenham tactics for Lyon vs Spurs here should see us go after this area again. Lennon and Walker will be key, but i wouldn’t be sruprised to see Gareth Bale drifting out to this side or switching with Aaron.

Lyon vulnerable to crosses?

On watching some highlights of Lyon’s 4-0 win at the weekend on ESPN’s Ligue 1 review show, the result did mask a number of opportunities created by Bordeaux from crosses.

Spurs didn’t have a great success from crossing in the first leg, apart from the Walker to Bale moment. That’s not to say opportunities won’t be there in this leg though as Lyon will have to come out and attack. Michael Dawson didn’t play in the first game and he is a threat from set pieces, as is Steven Caulker who also didn’t feature at the Lane.

Up front, Emmanuel Adebayor needs to get in the box more to score. He wasn’t able to in the first leg, but he is also a danger to convert a cross, as is Gareth Bale, whose heading ability is an under-rated part of his game.

The Tottenham tactics for Lyon vs Spurs here shouldn’t see us shy away from looking to cross. Whether it is from open play or a set piece, Lyon can be got at in this way.

Lyon vs Spurs choice of keeper

The talk in the build-up has included Andre Villas-Boas announcing Brad Friedel will start in goal. Whilst this is a shame for Hugo Lloris, who would have wanted to face his former team, it also brings with it some concern.

Friedel, as we are all aware, likes to stay on his line and doesn’t play the role of a sweeper coming out to clear balls played in-behind in the same way Lloris does. While we can get away with this at home against a Lyon side that is looking to sit deep and play on the counter, away could be a different matter.

In or trip to Elland Road, Leeds 2 Spurs 1 saw the Yorkshire side exposing the huge gulf that was created between our high line and Brad staying back in his goal. With Lyon having to attack here, I can see them attempting to play balls in behind through Clement Grenier for Gomis and Lacazette to latch on to. Hugo Lloris would deal with these much better than Brad Friedel.

Lyon vs Spurs outlook

This will be a tough test dictated by Remi Garde’s choice of midfield. If he goes slightly more defensive in Gonalons, Fofana and either Grenier or Malbranque then space could well be congested and the game won out-wide. If he goes more aggressive with just one defensive player in Gonalons and two passers in Malbranque and Grenier, then we could see an exciting, more open contest.

We have often seen Spurs start quickly in away games this season, looking to grab an early away goal and Andre Villas-Boas will probably be looking to do so again here.

The choice of our keeper could be the biggest factor in determining whether we go through or not. I’m hoping Brad’s organisational skills mean that he is not having to cope with too many balls played in behind like he was at Elland Road.

I feel like Lyon vs Spurs may well be another Europa League game which will see extra time required to settle it; just in our favour.

Lyon vs Spurs prediction: Lyon 2 Spurs 2 (AET)

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One Response to Tottenham tactics: Lyon vs Spurs preview

  1. DaveSpurs 21st February 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    Nervous about tonight, would be a lot more confident with Lloris in goal.