Juventus may look to have one foot in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, but Olympique Lyonnais are still hopeful they have the tools to topple their Italian rivals – with young forward Alexandre Lacazette in the mood to impress.
The Bianconeri posted a patient 1-0 victory at the Stade de Gerland last Thursday to move another step closer to their dream of contesting the UEFA Europa League final at their home ground. Leonardo Bonucci eventually made the difference with five minutes remaining, yet Lyon had competed well until that late blow, and Lacazette is no less hungry to contest the 14 May showpiece in Turin.
"It's a pity we couldn't keep a clean sheet," said the 22-year-old, given a breather from Lyon's starting lineup in Sunday's 2-1 Ligue 1 win at Valenciennes FC. "However, we know that we need to score over there and we're determined to do it, because we want to return to Juventus Stadium [for the final]."
Lacazette is also keen to show Juve and their supporters what he is made of, having recently expressed a wish to one day play for the Serie A leaders. "Given their history, Juve are one of the biggest clubs in Europe," explained the Lyon native and OL academy product, likened by former French international Bernard Lacombe to Sylvain Wiltord. "I'd be lying if I said no. Like everyone, I'm tempted by the idea of an experience at a big club abroad."
The attraction could even be mutual, with Bianconeri coach Antonio Conte citing Lacazette as one of the French side's major threats ahead of the first leg, along with Bafétimbi Gomis. The Lyon No10 struggled to trouble Conte's men at the Stade de Gerland, yet he has scored 14 goals in 30 Ligue 1 outings this term, while in the UEFA Europa League he struck against FC Chornomorets Odesa and FC Viktoria Plzeň. No player left in the competition boasts more shots on target, in fact.
A standout performance against Juventus could also help Lacazette force his way back onto France coach Didier Deschamps's radar ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The pacy striker, who can operate through the middle or on the right, was a regular for his country at youth level and hit the winning goal in the 2010 UEFA European Under-19 Championship final.
His first two senior caps followed against Brazil and Uruguay as Les Bleus toured South America last summer, though he has not featured since. "I didn't perform well and I know it," he said. "But I'm not giving up and I hope I can make [Deschamps] change his mind."
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