Nightmare season for Lyon on and off the field

LYON, France (AP) — This season is turning into a nightmare for French club Lyon.

On and off the field.

The arrival in May of coach Peter Bosz was meant to restore stability at the seven-time French champion. After 17 games in the French league, the club which dominated domestic soccer before the emergence of Paris Saint-Germain is instead left languishing in midtable, along with incidents of fan violence.

Ahead of its final league game before the Christmas break against Metz on Wednesday, Lyon lags 22 points behind leader PSG and is far from its ambition to return to the Champions League next season.

Known for his appetite for attacking football, Bosz has failed to find the right balance for his players in the French league. In sharp contrast with Lyon’s performance in the Europa League — where it qualified for the knockout phase with a total of 16 goals and five wins from six games — Lyon has just six league wins this season. That’s a poor tally for a club filled with established talent including recruits Emerson, Xherdan Shaqiri and Jerome Boateng, Lyon’s biggest signing of the summer.

Lyon’s president, Jean-Michel Aulas, was counting on these players and Bosz to bring back success at a club lacking a trophy since 2012. But despite the squad’s many attacking assets, Lyon’s defensive frailties have been too often exposed.

Lyon has conceded 25 goals so far in the league this season, with Bosz — a former Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax coach — underperforming compared to his predecessors Rudi Garcia and Bruno Génésio.

Aulas has been publicly backing his coach, but the slump has already made a big impact on the club, with the planned departure of sporting director Juninho in the coming weeks. The former Brazil international is associated with Lyon’s successful years in the 2000s and his decision to leave speaks volumes about the current situation.

In addition to poor results on the pitch, Lyon has been engulfed by fan violence.

Earlier this month, Lyon was deducted one point by the French league’s disciplinary committee after Marseille player Dimitri Payet was hit by a projectile thrown from the stands at Lyon’s stadium. Lyon is facing further sanctions following the team’s French Cup game last week at Paris FC that was abandoned after supporters invaded the field, launched flares and fought each other in the stands.

Lyon has pledged to identify the fans involved in the violence and decided to ban all supporters from away games in the meantime.

Also Wednesday, PSG plays at Lorient, and Bordeaux hosts defending champion Lille.

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