Lyon suffered a disastrous, humiliating and comprehensive defeat away to Rennes in round thirteen of the Ligue 1 season. Their performance was listless, shambolic and bordering on the disgraceful.
Rennes were everything that Lyon weren’t. The Breton side were the embodiment of a well-drilled, energetic and motivated team, playing with purpose as a cohesive unit. They dominated the game from start to finish.
Lyon had Anthony Lopes to thank for keeping the score respectable during a first half in which Rennes sliced through the Lyon lines with ease, encountering no semblance of resistance. They bombarded the Lyon goal and could, perhaps should, have scored several before Gaetan Laborde finally broke the deadlock just before half time with a header from a corner.
The Portuguese goalkeeper was the only Lyon player to emerge with his reputation in tact, but even he was helpless as the floodgates opened during the second half. Hamari Traore hammered home a fierce shot to double the advantage after a ludicrous mistake by Leo Dubios in the 51st minute.
The Lyon right-back had watched the ball bounce along the touchline a few times before deciding it had gone out of play and picking it up to take a throw-in. The linesman disagreed and signalled a handball and the resulting free-kick that led to the second goal. Replays were inconclusive, but Dubois should have known to play to the flag rather than take matters into his own hands.
Rennes substitute Adrien Truffert added two further goals in the last quarter of an hour to complete Lyon’s misery before Lucas Paqueta won and converted a late penalty. On a night when nothing went right for the visitors, even the penalty served to highlight the discord in the Lyon camp as there was an unseemly squabble between Paqueta, Slimani and Aouar over who should take the kick.
The whole Lyon performance was disjointed and incoherent. There didn’t seem to be any sort of game plan or, worse still, any reaction to rectify the situation after it became apparent that they were being overrun in all areas. There was no marking whatsoever, either in open play or defending set pieces, and Rennes players were given the freedom of the Lyon half. They proceeded to run rings around the static defenders, benefitting from amounts of time and space rarely afforded to an attacking team in the modern game.
There was no pressing in evidence from the Lyon team and little apparent appetite for the fight. It was as though the players had been sedated in the changing rooms before kick-off. The buck for all this has to stop with manager Peter Bosz. His teams have rarely been known for their defensive solidity, and that problem is already manifesting itself at his new club. He needs to find a way of tightening things up quickly or make way for somebody else who can.
In theory, this Lyon XI should have been a fairly solid line-up. A Portuguese international goalkeeper, French and Italian international fullbacks, Belgian and (former) German international centre-backs. Not many clubs in Europe can boast such a distinguished and experienced back line on paper, let alone clubs in Ligue 1.
The midfield contained a Brazilian international and a France under-21 international and comprised three predominantly defensive players, and the front three even contained two players who are primarily midfielders, so it should have been a tough unit to break down, but they were chasing shadows all evening.
Bosz clearly needs to sharpen up his tactics and seemingly his motivational skills too, as the team simply haven’t progressed under his tutelage. Encouraging results have been interspersed with disappointments and poor performances and many of the defensive frailties from previous regimes remain. Most galling of all however, was that this chastening defeat was overseen by one of his recent predecessors on the Lyon bench, Bruno Genesio, who looks to be building something special with this Rennes side.