Friday, November 11, 2016

Olympique Lyonnais Greatest All-Time Team


Olympique Lyonnais dominated French football in the 2000's.
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

The club was formed as Lyon Olympique Universitaire in 1899, according to many supporters and sport historians, but was nationally established as a club in 1950. The club's most successful period has been the 21st century. The club won its first Ligue 1 championship in 2002, starting a national record-setting streak of seven successive titles. Lyon has also won a record seven Trophée des Champions, five Coupe de France titles and three Ligue 2 Championships.


7 straight League titles
Team
GK: Grégory Coupet (France)
Coupes started with St. Etienne, but it was at Lyon that he made a name,  He was the starting keeper, winning 7 straight league titles from 2001-2002 season to 2007-2008 season.  He was Ligue 1 Keeper of the Year 4 times. He earned 34 caps because Fabien Barthez was Raymond Domenech's preferred choice during his peak.  
Grégory Coupet 
GK: Hugo Lloris (France)
Lorries started his career with Nice.  He moved to Lyon in 2008 to replace Coupet. In 2012, he moved to Tottenham Hotspurs.  At the time of writing, he has over 100 caps for France.  He is a key player since the World Cup Finals in 2010, participating in every major tournaments. He was France's starting keeper on the 2018 World Cup winning team.

GK: Marcel Aubour (France)
Arbour played for Nice, Olympique Lyonnais, Stade Rennes and Rimes in France.  His peak was with olympique Lyonnais where he won the 1964 Coupe de France and reached the Cup Winners Cup the following year.  After a brief poor period, he again won the Cup in 1971 with Rennes.  He was the starting keeper for France at 1966 World Cup Finals in England 1966. 

RB/LB: Raymond Domenech (France)
Domenech played for Lyon, Strasbourg, PSG, Bordeaux and Mulhouse. During his career, he was known as a hard tackling player.  He grew a mustache to reinforce his image. From 1973 to 1979, he was capped 8 times for France.  He is better known the controversial manager of the French national team from 2004 and 2010.

RB: Anthony Reveillere (France)
Reveillere spent most of his professional career with Rennes and Lyon, amassing Ligue 1 totals of 426 games and five goals over the course of 16 seasons and winning 12 major titles with the latter, including five national championships. He later played for Napoli and Sunderland. Réveillère played 20 times with France, representing the nation at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

RB/CB:  Jean Djorkaeff (France)
Djorkaeff spent a total of 16 seasons with the league, during which he played with only three clubs (eight seasons with Lyon, four with Marseille, and four with Paris FC). He won the Coupe de France (French Cup) twice, the first time with Lyons in 1964 and the second with Marseille in 1969. Djorkaeff also played for France in the 1966 World Cup. His son Youri Djorkaeff played for France in the 1998 World Cup and the 2002 World Cup and the Euro 2000.
Jean Djorkaeff 
CB: Cris (Brazil)
Cris is also nicknamed "the policeman" by way of reference to his authoritarian nature on the pitch and his four months experience in a police department in Guarulhos. He has won the Ligue 1 with Lyon from 2005 to 2008, the Brazilian Championship in 1998 with Corinthians and in 2003 with Cruzeiro. Capped 17 times.  He won the Copa América in 2004 and went to Germany 2006.

CB: Caçapa (Brazil)
Caçapa played in the domestic leagues in 3 different countries. He started with Atletico Mineiro at home. His most famous stint was with Olympique Lyonnais, where he was their captain for 5 seasons, winning the league in each season(6 titles in total) . He also played for Newcastle United, Cruzeiro, Evian and Avai. He was capped 4 times for Brazil between 2000 and 2001.

CB: Jacek Bąk (Poland)
Bąk made his senior debuts with local Motor Lublin aged just 16, moving to Lech Poznań two years later.  Bąk signed for Olympique Lyonnais in the 1995. In 2002, he moved to RC Lens. ,The sides he played for during that campaign finished in first and second position. He spent two years with Al Rayyan SC in Qatar and three with FK Austria Wien.  Capped 96 times. He went to the World Cup finals in 2002 and 2006

LB: Aimé Mignot (France)
Mignot started his career in 1953 with AIX in the second division. He joined Olympique Lyonnais in 1955.  He played over 400 games for them between 1955 and 1966.  He won the Coup de France in 1964 as the captain of the team and reached the semi-final of Cup Winners Cup the same year. Two years after his retirement, he became the manager of the club.
Aimé Mignot

LB: Éric Abidal (France)
In his career, Eric Abidal played mainly for Lyon and Barcelona, winning 21 major titles the two teams combined, including two Champions League trophies with the latter. His later career was marked by liver disease, resulting in a transplant. A French international across nine years, Abidal represented the nation in two World Cups – finishing second in 2006 – and European Championship in 2008.

DM: Jérémy Toulalan (France)
Toulalan started his career at hometown club Nantes in 2002. He won the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year award and also an appearance in the Team of the Year. In 2006, he joined Lyon, and helped the team win back-to-back league titles in 2007 and 2008. He also played for Málaga and AS Monaco.  He was capped 36 times.  He went to Euro 2008.  At the WC Finals in 2010, he was one of the players punished for the strike.

DM: Mahamadou Diarra (Mali)
Diarra started his career with Greek side OFI Crete. Then he went to Vitesse Arnhem. He played for French club Lyon from 2002 until 2006 and formed a successful midfield partnership with Michael Essien. He won four Ligue 1 titles during his time at Lyon.  In 2006, he joined Real Madrid.  He stayed there until 2011, where he won two La Liga titles.  He later moved to Monaco and Fulham. Capped 64 times for Mali.
Mahamadou Diarra
CM:  Michael Essien (Ghana)
One of the best central midfielders in the world during his prime. He first became a star while playing for Lyon, where he won two Ligue 1 titles in two seasons.  Then, he moved to Chelsea.  Over there, he won a Champions' league, two Premier :League titles and four FA Cups.   He also spent one season with Real Madrid on loan.  Capped 58 times.  He is considered one of the greatest players from Ghana.
Michael Essien
CM: Jean Tigana (France)
Tigana played 52 times for France. He was a member of the great French side of the 1980's.  He won the Euro 1984 playing in the famous "Magic Square" alongside Michel Platini. He also went to the 1982 and 1986 Wolrd Cup Finals. He played with Bordeaux for eight years, winning three league titles and three French Cups.  He also spent time with Toulon, Lyon and Marseille.

RW: Sidney Govou (France)
Govou played with Lyon from 2000 to 2010, where he won 7 league titles.  He moved to Panathinaikos.  He later played for a various number of clubs in the lower division.  He was capped 49 times.  He was a late, injury replacement for both Euro 2004 and the WC Finals in 2006.

LW: Florent Malouda (France)
Malouda played for Châteauroux and Guingamp before making a name with Lyon and Chelsea, winning four consecutive Ligue 1 titles with the former and the Champions League in 2012 with the latter. Malouda represented Les Bleus on 80 times, including in two World Cups and two European Championships. He was part of the French team that reached the 2006 World Cup final.

AM: Serge Chiesa (France)
Chiese played his entire career with Olympique Lyonnais.  He was an excellent dribbler whose skill was comparable to Michel Platini. In 1975/76, he was voted 'best attacking midfielder' of the season by France Football.  He made his national team debut at the age of 18. However, he was only capped 12 times because of a disagreement with the French Football Association. He never played for France after 1974 at the age of 23.
Serge Chiesa 
AM/CM: Kim Källström (Sweden)
He started his career in Sweden, winning consecutive league titles with Djurgården before he played for Rennes and Lyon in France. He won a range of domestic honours with Lyon. Källström earned 131 caps for Sweden between 2001 and 2016.  He is their fourth most capped player of all time. He played in four European Championships and the 2006 World Cup.

AM/CM: Juninho Pernambucano (Brazil)
Juninho Pernambucano was the leading player at Olympique Lyonnais leading them to seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles between 2002 and 2008.  In Brazil, his career was associated with Vasco da Gama. He won Copa Libertadores in 1998. For the national team, his selection was limited by the number of great attackers in his generation.  He was only capped 40 times and went to the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany.


ST: Néstor Combin (France)
From 1959 to 1964, Combin played, mainly with Olympique Lyonnais. He was one of the first French players to play abroad in Italy. He won several titles there, while playing for Juventus, Torino and AC Milan, In a game between AC Milan and Argentine side Estudiantes for the 1969 Intercontinental Cup, Combin was dealt with aggressively by rival players and had his nose broken (the infamous "Bombonera Massacre"). 

ST: Karim Benzema (Rhône-Alpes)
Benzema was billed as one of the best young players in Europe when he played for Lyon.  In 2009, he made a dream move to Real Madrid on the same summer that Kaka and Cristano Ronaldo joined the club.  He won the Champions' League in 2014 and 2016, where he formed the BBC line with Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.  For the national team, he played in the 2014 WC Finals.
Karim Benzema 
ST: Sonny Anderson (Brazil)
Sonny Anderson played for many clubs.  He was best known for his spells with Lyon, Monaco (he played most of his abroad career in France, amassing Ligue 1 totals of 221 games and 138 goals) and Barcelona.  He was UEFA Cup top scorer in 2003-2004.  Despite of being a top scorer in Europe, he was only capped 6 times, largely because of playing with Ronaldo, Elber, Mario Jardel, etc at the same time.

ST: Fleury Di Nallo (France)
Di Nallo was nicknamed 'Le petit prince de Gerland' (The little Prince of Gerland) by the Lyon fans. He played 489 games and scored 222 goals for Lyon. In total, he scored 187 goals in the French league, 182 with Lyon.  He also played for Red Stars Paris and Montpellier. He was capped 10 times for France between 1962 and 1971. He scored twice in his national debut against Hungary in 1962.
Fleury Di Nallo 
ST: Bernard Lacombe (France)
Bernard Lacombe played with Lyon, Saint-Étienne and Bordeaux. With 255 goals scored, he is the second all-time leadomg scorer in the French championship, after Delio Onnis. He earned his first cap for France in 1973. He went on to represent his nation at the 1978 World Cup, scoring after only 30 seconds against Italy, the fastest goal ever for a French player. Lacombe also played at the 1982 World Cup and won the UEFA Euro 1984 held at home.
Bernard Lacombe 

Honorable Mention
Lucien Degeorges, Lisandro López, Maurice, Ángel Rambert, Lucien Cossou, Edmilson, Patrick Müller, Bruno N'Gotty, Miralem Pjanic, Marcel Le Borgne, André Lerond.

Squad Explanation 
-- A lot of players came from the period between 2001 and 2007, where the team won 7 straight league titles.
-- I selected Hugo Lloris, a more recent keeper.  Yves Chauveau would have been the 4th choice. I selected the following 14 players from that period on this team: Gregory Coupet, Cris, Anthony Reveillere, Edmilson, Jacek Bak, Eric Abidal, Jeremy Toulalan, Mahamadou Diarra, Michael Essien, Juninho Pernambucano, Karim Benzema, Sonny Anderson, Sidney Govou and Florent Malouda.
-- Jean Tigana was not associated with this club, but he started to become a star while playing for Lyons.
-- Edmilson, Cris and Caçapa played togerther for Lyons around the same time.  All three were Brazilians. Edmilson might have better international reputation due to his 40 caps with Brazil, but I took Cris and Caçapa because they played longer for the club.  Cris won many individual awards while at he club.  Caçapa served as its captain and was a part of 6 league title winning team.
-- Serge Chiesa was rated as one of the best French footballers of his generation.  He is a forgotten player, largely because of the lack of exposure through international football. He stopped playing for France at the age of 23.
-- Lisandro Lopez deserved to be on the team, but I already have 5 strikers ahead of him.  I took three iconic players(Lacombe, Combin and Di Nello) from the past. Benzema is a homegrown player.  Finally, Sonny Anderson edged out Lisandro Lopez for the last spot.

Formation


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