The most prolific goals-per-game scorers in this season’s UEFA Europa League, Lyon will have to get their shooting boots on if they are to overturn a three-goal semi-final deficit against the only former winners left in the competition, Ajax.
• Ajax’s 4-1 success in the first leg was the sides’ fifth UEFA competition meeting. Lyon have yet to win against Ajax: W0 D2 L3.
• In 2011/12, they were paired in the UEFA Champions League group stage again, Rémi Garde’s Lyon holding Frank de Boer’s Ajax to two 0-0 draws. Current Ajax captain Davy Klaassen – then 18 – made his Ajax and UEFA club competition debut in the game in Lyon.
• The teams for their last Lyon meeting on 22 September 2011:
Lyon: Lloris, Cris, Lovren, Källström, Gourcuff, Lisandro (Ederson 73), Bastos, Réveillère, Gomis, Briand (Lacazette* 85), Cissokho.
Ajax: Vermeer, Van der Wiel (Blind 67), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Anita, Enoh, Sulejmani, Eriksen, Ebecilio (Klaassen* 85), Janssen, Lodeiro (Lukoki 89).
*registered to play in this season’s competition.
• Lyon’s record in 13 encounters with Dutch clubs is W6 D4 L3 (W3 D2 L1 at home). In all of their match-ups with Dutch opponents, the outcomes of the home and away fixtures have been the same: they beat Heerenveen home and away in 2000/01, drew with PSV home and away in 2004/05. Should that record continue, they will lose at home against Ajax.
• Lyon have already played Dutch opposition this season, thrashing AZ Alkmaar 4-1 away and 7-1 at home in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
• Ajax’s overall record in 23 matches against French sides is W11 D5 L7 (W4 D2 L5 in France).
• Lyon have won all three of their UEFA Europa League home games this season, scoring 13 goals in the process – and conceding four. Average that out and it suggests a 4.33-1.33 home win against Ajax.
• Lyon have twice recovered from away defeats to win European ties. They lost 2-1 at Istanbulspor then won 2-0 at home in the 1997 UEFA Intertoto Cup and – in a direct parallel to their current situration – lost 4-1 at Club Brugge in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup third round but made it through on away goals with a 3-0 home success.
• Ajax are without a win in their last five European away games – three draws followed by two defeats by one-goal margins.
• Ajax have lost four UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League away games by three goals, most recently losing 3-0 at Spartak Moskva in the 2010/11 round of 16.
• Ajax have lost seven European ties after winning the first leg at home, but only once after a victory by a margin of more than one goal, Steaua Bucureşti overturning a 2-0 deficit in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32.
• Ajax’s past UEFA competition eliminations after first-leg victories:
2-1, 1-3 v Újpest, 1961/62 European Cup Winners’ Cup
1-0, 0-2 v CSKA Sofia, 1973/74 European Cup
2-1, 1-2 (lost 5-3 on pens) v Levski Sofia, 1975/76 UEFA Cup
1-0, 0-2 v Manchester United, 1976/77 UEFA Cup
1-0, 0-1 (lost 4-2 on pens) v Bohemians Praha, 1984/85 UEFA Cup
1-0, 1-3 v Auxerre, 2004/05 UEFA Cup
2-0, 0-2 (lost 4-2 on pens) v Steaua Bucureşti, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League
• Lyon’s last semi-final was in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League, where they were eliminated by Bayern München. No French team has won the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League.
• Ajax have appeared in all eight UEFA Europa League campaigns – the sole club to do so – but this is the first time they have reached the semi-finals. They are the only former UEFA Cup winners left in the competition, having taken the crown in 1992.
• Ajax last got to a semi-final in the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League, succumbing to Juventus.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Amsterdam to Lyon is around 750km.
• Lyon have the highest goals-per-game average of any side in this season’s UEFA Europa League: 2.86, having scored 20 in their seven games since entering in the round of 32.
• Ajax’s Amin Younes, United’s Paul Pogba and Celta’s Daniel Wass are the only players to have featured in all 13 of their sides’ UEFA Europa League games this season.
• Ajax’s Kasper Dolberg, Celta’s Iago Aspas and United’s Zlatan Ibrahimović and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are the highest-scoring players left in the competition with five goals each. Roma’s Edin Džeko and Zenit’s Giuliano top the rankings with eight.
• Ajax lifted the trophy in 1991/92, making them the only former UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League winners still in this season’s competition.
• Lyon are the only side left from the eight that parachuted down into the UEFA Europa League round of 32 after a third-placed finish in their UEFA Champions League group.
• Ajax winger Justin Kluivert’s father may be able to offer him a few tips on French football; Patrick Kluivert is currently director of football with Lyon’s domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain.
• Ajax forward Bertrand Traoré was a trainee in France with Monaco from 2009–10 before switching to Chelsea’s youth set-up.
• Ajax come into the second legs having had the most attempts on goal (211) and shots on target (92) of any team in this season’s competition.
• Bruno Génésio took the Lyon reins in December 2015, but his links to the club go back much further. A local boy, he joined OL as a trainee in 1983 and represented Lyon as a midfielder from 1985–95. He later worked as a scout and was assistant coach from 2011–15.
• A Dutch title winner as a midfielder with Feyenoord, Peter Bosz returned from Israel to take charge of Ajax in May 2016. He has managed Heracles and Vitesse in the Netherlands, also briefly coaching Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
• Bosz played domestic league football in France with Toulon from 1988–91.
• Lyon have won one of their three UEFA penalty shoot-outs:
L 4-2 A v PSV (2004/05 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals)
L 4-3 A v APOEL (2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16)
W 7-6 A v Beşiktaş (2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals)
• Ajax’s record in five UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L4:
L 4-2 A v Steaua (2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32)
L 4-2 N v Juventus (1995/96 UEFA Champions League final)
W 4-3 N v Grêmio (1995 European/South American Cup)
L 4-2 A v Bohemians Praha (1984/85 UEFA Cup second round)
L 5-3 A v Levski (1975/76 UEFA Cup third round)