Lyon’s Attacking Movements

By Stevie Grieve

Lyon have been this season's ‘surprise’ package in Ligue 1, with a team of cast-offs who have proved unsuccessful at other clubs and academy graduates, staying in the top 6 would be the realistic aim and top 3 would’ve been ambitious. As it has unfolded, Lyon have been one of the most attack minded teams in the league, scoring 60 goals in 31 games, and having the best goal difference in the league.

Some of the success has come from the emergence of Nabil Fekir and the continued improvement year on year of Alexandre Lacazette, the return to form of Yoann Gourcuff, and a stable 4-4-2 diamond formation, with attacking full backs providing the width when the dual strikers are more central.

Lyon use a fluid formation and one of the reasons for this is the above mentioned Full Backs, the fluidity of movement from the strikers and how they stretch the field when in possession.

Basic Shape; 4-1-2-1-2 becoming 4-3-3 becoming 2-1-4-3


Both FBs (black circles) are very high, on the line of the opposition midfield, while the strikers are split, with Gourcuff between. The midfield shape is a clear triangle, with Gourcuff starting very high to drop off late between the lines, causing the CBs and CMs a problem if they don’t stay compact.

Occupying the far side full back; FB occupies the zone if the CF drops off


As the ball is moved inside, we can see that Fekir has dropped off into the channel, allowing Jallet to move higher and occupy the far side full back. Gourcuff will continue to drift around the centre between the lines and often pulling out a CB to mark him, isolating the FB and potentially 2v1.

Movement to create space on the outside; FB and CF relationship


As the ball is circulated, the FB is deeper as the CF stays high against the FB; Jallet will overlap if the FB is taken inside the by the run of the CF moving inside. Here, as Lacazette drifts inside with his FB, Jallet can time his run from deep into the space as the diagonal pass is open into the space.

Occupying the FB with a CM as the CFs are unable to


As Lacazette, Gourcuff and Fekir are all on the near side, the far side FB must be occupied, so the responsibility falls on Ferri who drifts onto the forward line from RCM. He can do this as Jallet is deep to offer a switch, which can then allow for movement from Ferri, Gourcuff and a supporting midfielder from a position behind the ball.

Exploiting the FB zone via 3rd man runs; Attacking FB overlap


Jallet receives a switch then combines with Ferri who protects from the FB who stays tight to not let him turn. As the FB drops deep, the space behind him is open for a 3rd man run from Jallet, who can receive from Tolisso after Ferri draws in pressure and releases to Tolisso who has a good passing angle into the corner for Jallet.

The positioning of Fekir on the far side CB makes the near side CB make a decision – go to the ball and expose the space or stay closer to the CB and hope to delay the attack as the defence move over.

Releasing Gourcuff between the CBs; 3rd man runs centrally


As Tolisso is in the channel, he is looking for a way to penetrate the midfield. Lacazette can drift wider and take the CB with him, with Gourcuff between the lines and off the shoulder of the nearest CM. If Lacazette can draw pressure and play 1st time into Gourcuff, he and Fekir can attack the goal centrally.

Gourcuff between the CBs leads to a penalty


Lacazette’s marker doesn’t follow him but he also doesn’t narrow the space between himself and his CB partner, leaving Gourcuff free to drift between the CBs with Fekir ready to support inside.

Gourcuff drifts free between the CBs 3rd man


Similar to the last attack, it this time it’s Umtiti, the LCB who advances with the ball. Both Lacazette and Gourcuff point to where the ball must go. This is to trigger the run of Gourcuff into the space between the CB’s as Lacazette receives with pressure from the CB, leaving a space again.

[wpsharely id="2988"][/wpsharely]


Lacazette is able to receive with an open body shape to redirect the ball into the run of Gourcuff between the CBs with Fekir again on the far side CB and Jallet wide incase they cannot break through centrally.

Lyon have a very precise and ‘scripted’ way of playing when the ball is in the attacking areas, with a system that starts as a 4-1-2-1-2 often adapts to 2-1-4-3 or even a 2-3-2-3 with a false 9. This style of play is well rehearsed and offers a lot of movement based on ‘rules’ as to which zones and players need to be occupied to open up and exploit the space.

By Stevie Grieve. (Follow on Twitter @steviegrieve)  Stevie is also the author Coaching the 4-2-3-1Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics and From Futsal to Soccer

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Leave a Reply 2 comments