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
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.  Tay the time of writing, he has over 80 caps for France.  He is a key player since the WC Finals in 2010, participating in every major tournaments.

GK: Marcel Aubour (France)
Arbour played for Nice, Lyons, Rennes and Rimes in France.  He was the starting keeper for France at Enland 1966.  He earned 20 caps.

RB/LB: Raymond Domenech (France)
Domenech played for Lyon, Strasbourg, PSG, Bordeaux and Mulhouse. From 1973 to 1979, he was capped 8 times.  He is better known the controversial manager of the French national team from 2004 and 2010.

RB: Anthony Reveillere (France)
He 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.

CB:  Jean Djorkaeff (France)
He 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 FIFA World Cup. His son Youri Djorkaeff played for France in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2000.
Jean Djorkaeff 
CB: Cris (Brazil)
He 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.  He also won the Copa do Brasil in 1995 with Corinthians and 2000 with Cruzeiro.  He also played for Galatasaray.  Capped 17 times.  He won the Copa América in 2004 and went to Germany 2006.

DM/CB: Jose Edmílson (Brazil)
He played in 3 different countries.  His most famous stints were with Lyons and Barcelona. Capped 40 times.  He won the WC in 2002.  He was selected to the 2006 team, but did not go due to an injury.

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 summer, going on to spend one full decade in the French Ligue 1 with that team and RC Lens, joining the latter in January 2002. The sides he played for during that campaign finished in first and second position. Hr spent two years in the Qatar Stars League with Al Rayyan SC and three with Austrian Football Bundesliga's FK Austria Wien.  Capped 96 times. He went to the WC finals in 2002 and 2006

LB: Aimé Mignot (France)
Mignot played over 400 games for Lyons between 1955 and 1966.  He started his career with AIX. He won the Coup de France in 1964 and reached the semi0final of Cup Winners Cup the same year.
Aimé Mignot

LB: Éric Abidal (France)
In his career, he 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 Euro 2008.

DM: Jérémy Toulalan (France)
Toulalan started his career at hometown club Nantes and made his debut in March 2002. His performances during the 2004–05 season earned him the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year award and also an appearance in the Team of the Year. In May 2006, Toulalan joined Lyon on a four-year contract and helped the team win back-to-back league titles in 2007 and 2008. In June 2011, he joined Málaga. Two seasons later, he joined 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)
He was a member of the great French side of the 1980's.  He won the Euro 1984 playing in the famous "Magic Square". He played with Bordeaux for eight years, winning three league titles and three French Cups.

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 UEFA Champions League in 2012 with the latter, among other honours. Malouda represented Les Bleus on 80 occasions, including in two FIFA World Cups and two European Championships. He was part of the French team which reached the 2006 World Cup final.

AM: Serge Chiesa (France)
He is a historic player of Olympique Lyonnais.  he played his entire career there.  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.  Capped 12 times.
Serge Chiesa 
AM/CM: Kim Källström (Sweden)
He started his career at several clubs in Sweden, winning consecutive Allsvenskan titles with Djurgården before moving to France where he represented Rennes and Lyon. Källström won a range of domestic honours with Lyon and joined Spartak in 2012. 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 FIFA World Cup.

AM/CM: Juninho Pernambucano (Brazil)
He was the leading player at Olympique Lyonnais leading them to seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles between 2002 and 2008.  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 WC Finals in Germany.

ST: Néstor Combin (France)
He played, mainly with Olympique Lyonnais. He was one of the first French internationals who played abroad in Italy Serie A. He won several titles there, including a Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) with Juventus F.C. and another with Torino F.C. and a Intercontinental Cup (European/South American Cup) with Milan A.C..  He was dubbed "La Foudre" (The Lightning) in France, for his speed, and "Il Selvaggio" (the Savage) in Italy, for his fighting spirit.  In a game between A.C. 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)
Nicknamed 'Le petit prince de Gerland' (The little Prince of Gerland) by the Lyon fans, Di Nallo played 489 games and scored 222 goals for Lyon. In total, he scored 187 goals in the French league, 182 with Lyon.  He was capped 10 times for France between 1962 and 1971.

Fleury Di Nallo 
ST: Bernard Lacombe (France)
Lacombe began his professional career with hometown club Lyon in 1969. After a brief stay with Saint-Étienne, Lacombe joined Bordeaux. With 255 goals scored in Ligue 1, he is the second-best striker of all-time in the French championship, after Delio Onnis.
Lacombe 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 UEFA Euro 1984.
Bernard Lacombe 

Honorable Mention
Lucien Degeorges, Lisandro López, Maurice, Ángel Rambert, Lucien Cossou, Caçapa, Patrick Müller, Bruno N'Gotty, Miralem Pjanic.

Squad Explanation 
-- The team is based upon their teams throughout their 7 straight league champion run.
-- I selected Hugo Lloris, a more recent keeper.  Yves Chauveau would have been the 4th choice.
-- Lisandro Lopez deserved to be on the team, but I already have 5 strikers ahead of him.  I took three iconic players from the past.  Benzema is a homegrown player.  Sonny Anderson edged out Lisandro Lopez for the last spot.

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