The tactical secrets behind Lyon’s Coupe de France beating of Guingamp

Artwork by @chapulana.

Olympique Lyonnais are having a great time. After being on the brink of the crisis on the eve of the derby in Saint-Étienne (2-1), on 20 January, Lyonnais won at Guingamp (2-1), in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France, it’s the fifth victory in a row.

The Lyonnais, who have not been in the last four of the event since their victory in the final of the 2012 edition against Quevilly (N, 1-0), will receive Caen, Groupama Stadium, in the quarter-finals. Last season, Caen had eliminated Lyon (1-0) at the same stage of the competition.

In four games before this match, Lyon conceded only two goals after changing the formation. Genesio decided that it was time to abandon 3-5-2 and employed 4-2-3-1 with Dembele up front. This resulted in four wins, two of them against PSG and Saint Etienne, Lyonnais’ fierce rivals. It also worked just fine against Guingamp.

Mixing it up a bit for Olympique Lyonnais

Genesio sent out a mixed team well aware of the tight schedule that’s lying ahead of Olympique Lyonnais. Tete started at right-back and one can say he made the most of the time he was given. Earlier this season, he was relegated to the bench by Leo Dubois but he showed that he’s ready when needed.

The midfield line up was as standard as it can be, but the attack went through some refreshments. Martin Terrier and Maxwell Cornet replaced Bertrand Traore and Memphis Depay with the Nice game in mind for the weekend. The strong midfield with attackers starved for playing time gave Lyon a luxury of an easy victory.

Coupe de France 2018/19: Guingamp vs Lyon Tactical Analysis Statistics

Guingamp’s lineup

Lyon showed their momentum, their confidence and their technical superiority for more than an hour, facing a very reworked Guingamp.

They employed 4-1-2-3 with Didot connecting the lines in the build-up. Their gameplan was to give the ball to the Lyonaiss midfield and wait for the chance in the counter-attack. Tanguy Ndombele was highlighted as the pressure point to be exploited by the Guingamp left side. Rebocho, N’Dong, and Benezet joined forces and tried to breach the right side of Genesio’s team but without success.

An early goal by Dembele cut them off, lines were breaking in every attack orchestrated by Lyon and it was one-way street from that point on. Gourvennec tried to save the day after receiving the second goal after a few minutes into the second half but it was too late.

Unstoppable Kenny Tete

Netherlands defender Kenny Tete once again proved himself as a valuable asset for Lyonnais. He was relentless in coming forward and attacking Guingamp’s left side. Rebocho gave him a decent challenge but this Dutchman was just too much for him. As usual with Olympique Lyonnais and their full-backs, a heavier emphasis was put on attack and Tete ended up playing most of the match in Guingamp’s half, cooperating well with Ndombele and Cornet. Ferland Mendy did the same on the other side but also got himself an assist.

Coupe de France 2018/19: Guingamp vs Lyon Tactical Analysis Statistics
Tete reads the game well and comes back to save the goal

For a while now, there has been a prejudice of Tete being a bad player when it comes to defending. But above we can see him reacting just right when it was needed the most. In this situation, he came back from opponent’s half following Guingamp’s counter-attack. The right side of the Olympique Lyonnais defence lost their man and he managed to throw the ball in. Fortunately for Lyonaiss, Tete was having his day and he came out as a winner after an insanely long run.

Coupe de France 2018/19: Guingamp vs Lyon Tactical Analysis Statistics
Great reaction from Tete applying the pressure.

The Dutchman’s vision was also confirmed in the attacking phase of the Olympique Lyonnais game. Guingamp’s goalkeeper Johnsonn decided to throw a long ball trying to trigger the counter-attack for his team but Tete was ready for that. The ball wasn’t even close to N’Dong but he was on his way to take it away. And he succeeded but his teammates weren’t ready for that and action was ruined.

Fekir running the show

Nabil Fekir was seen dropping into his own half to get on the ball and string passes together, exchanging with the midfield. It’s something that became essential for Olympique Lyonnais this season, mainly in their attacking build-up. His ability to conjure chances for others is still a crucial feature of Lyon’s play, even though he’s playing deeper than he used to.

Coupe de France 2018/19: Guingamp vs Lyon Tactical Analysis Statistics
Fekir packing players on his back and opening the flank.

Frenchmen’s movement was, as usual, the heartbeat of Olympique Lyonnais and he was successful at packing the players on his back. That allowed Lyonnais’ full-backs and wingers to exploit the space he created by moving the midfielder closer to the centre of the court.

Coupe de France 2018/19: Guingamp vs Lyon Tactical Analysis Statistics
Fekir waiting for the mistake of Guingamp’s defence in the half-space.

Every time his team applied the pressure Fekir was the one that was waiting for the stolen ball. The situation you can see above is the one where Tete was attacking through the half-space, lost the ball, but his captain was there to retrieve it.

And on the screenshot below you can see the moment that pretty much sums up the whole game. Fekir attacking the defence of home team after he stole the ball. They are not ready for him and he manages to get the shot that ends on the post. Besides that, his movement opened up the space for both Terrier and Mendy and he could have employed them. Instead, he took a shot as captain is allowed to do. The constant danger was neutralised by Guingamp being lucky.

Coupe de France 2018/19: Guingamp vs Lyon Tactical Analysis Statistics
Fekir opening up the space for himself and his teammates.


Genesio used this match to test his attacking artillery and they all passed the test. One name in particular. Moussa Dembele has continued to establish his position as a starter, which gives him real chances to start against Barcelona. The five goals he has just scored have all been decisive since they have always allowed OL to equalise or take advantage.

That was without a doubt the main goal for Olympique Lyonnais in this match. Defence and midfield are all rock-solid and there can be changes only due to injury or suspension but the attack was something to think about. Maxwell Cornet also proved himself worthy of starting the matches and it will be interesting to see the lineup against Nice on Sunday.

If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Pre-order your copy of the February issue for just ₤4.99 here, or even better sign up for a ₤50 annual membership (12 monthly issues plus the annual review) right here.