Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No. 10: Lyon (France)

Olympique Lyonnais will carry the torch for France in the knockout round of the Champions League. Bordeaux and Marseille also were in the group stage, but both clubs finished third and will be in knockout round of the UEFA Cup.

Lyon - which has never advanced past the quarterfinals of the Champions League - took second in their group with a +4 goal differential behind Bayern Munich. Next up - a round of 16 tie with Barcelona, the team that has looked better than any other in Europe this season.

If there is a reason for Lyon fans to be hopeful, he wears the No. 10 shirt. France's Karim Benzema, who just turned 21 in December, already has 19 caps for the national team and 36 goals in 93 career appearances for Lyon. Benzema is one of three players who have goals thus far in the Champions League, joining Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's Miroslav Klose.

The homefront is where Lyon really shines. The club has won a Ligue 1 record seven titles in a row, and is in first again this year, but just a point ahead of Bordeaux. The club has a very talent squad which also includes French internationals like starting defender Jean-Alain Bournsongm starting midfielder Sidney Govou, midfielder Jeremy Toulalan, defender Francois Clerc, defender Anthony Reveillere and keeper Hugo Lloris. Other internationals include Italy defender Fabio Grasso, Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom and Brazalians like Juninho, Fred and Cris.
Lyon, which is also in the final 32 of the French Cup, has three home games in its next five, the last of which is home fixture against fourth-place team Rennes.

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