Lyon banks on its home form in Champions League

BY foxsports • April 22, 2010

Despite losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich and failing to grab a crucial away goal, Lyon has high hopes of overturning that deficit next week and reaching its first ever Champions League final.

Lyon failed to show any attacking panache in Munich, despite playing briefly with an extra man when Bayern's Franck Ribery was shown a straight red card, but the players are confident of putting things right in front of their home fans at Stade Gerland.

"It's frustrating for us because we did not play to our abilities, but luckily we have the return leg at our place to sort that out," Lyon winger Michel Bastos said. "I don't think we played a good match. We defended too much, we didn't do anything and we're lucky we only conceded one goal as they had other chances."

Lyon was unbeaten at home in its qualifying group and beat Real Madrid 1-0 at Gerland in the first knockout round, and then beat Bordeaux 3-1 at home in the quarterfinals.

While Bayern will play a German league game against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, Lyon will be the fresher team as its home game against Monaco has been postponed.

Lyon players had to travel nearly 900 kilometers (560 miles) on a team bus after plumes of volcanic ash led to unprecedented air-travel chaos in Europe, but Bastos refused to blame that for the team's lackluster display.

"I don't think he can hide behind a tiring journey," he said. "Of course it's hard, but we didn't play like we were in a semifinal."

Ribery was sent off late in the first half for a crude lunge on Argentina striker Lisandro Lopez, but Lyon had little more than 15 minutes to exploit that. The two teams were soon playing at 10-a-side when Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan was sent off for a second yellow card in the 54th minute.

"We played badly, now we will try and win the return leg and qualify," Lyon midfielder Miralem Pjanic said on the club's website. "Bayern played well, but that is because we were poor. We were missing too many things, now everyone needs to get involved and we need to do something in the return leg."

Lyon coach Claude Puel lamented the lack of an away goal, meaning Lyon will need to score three times if Bayern scores an away goal on Tuesday night.

"Our chances are still intact, even though we would have liked to have scored a goal to stand us in good stead for the return (leg)," Puel said. "But everything remains possible."

Lyon, which had never previously reached the semifinals of the competition, is looking to become the first French team to reach the Champions League final since Monaco in 2004.

"We managed to do it with a Monaco team far weaker than Lyon's and Lyon have to tell themselves that anything is possible," said former Monaco winger Ludovic Giuly, who helped the team reach the final six years ago.

Marseille is the only French team to have won the Champions League, beating AC Milan 1-0 in 1993.