Ajax v Lyon background

Ajax are within sight of the UEFA Europa League final as they welcome Lyon for their semi-final opener, and will hope their excellent home form can help pave the way to Stockholm.

Jan Vertonghen (R) of AFC Ajax heads the ball during the UEFA Champions League group stage match against Olympique Lyonnais
Jan Vertonghen (R) of AFC Ajax heads the ball during the UEFA Champions League group stage match against Olympique Lyonnais ©Getty Images

The only former winners left in the competition, Ajax will look to maintain a six-game winning streak at home in the UEFA Europa League as they host high-scoring Lyon.

Previous meetings
• The sides have met four times in UEFA competition: two Ajax wins and two goalless draws.

• In their first encounters, Ronald Koeman's Ajax beat Lyon 2-1 at home and 2-0 away (both times with ten men) in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• In 2011/12, they were paired in the UEFA Champions League group stage again, Rémi Garde's Lyon holding Frank de Boer's Ajax to two 0-0 draws. Current Ajax captain Davy Klaassen – then 18 – made his Ajax and UEFA club competition debut in the game in Lyon on 22 November 2011, and Alexandre Lacazette also made a cameo appearance.

• The teams for their last Amsterdam ArenA meeting on 14 September 2011:
Ajax: Vermeer, Van der Wiel, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Sulejmani (Ebecilio 85), Eriksen, Sigthórsson (Bulykin 81), De Jong, Boilesen, Janssen (Anita 70), Boerrigter.
Lyon: Lloris, Koné, Lovren, Källström, Grenier, Bastos, Réveillère, Gomis (Belfodil 85), Briand, Cissokho, Gonalons* (Fofana 90).
*registered to play in this season's competition.

Highlights: See how Ajax dramatically denied Schalke
Highlights: See how Ajax dramatically denied Schalke

• Ajax's overall record in 22 matches against French sides is W10 D5 L7 (W6 D3 L2 in Amsterdam – W4 D2 L5 in France).

• Lyon's record in 12 encounters with Dutch clubs is W6 D4 L2 (W3 D2 L1 at home – W3 D2 L1 in the Netherlands). In all of their match-ups with Dutch opponents, the outcomes of the home and away fixtures have been the same: e.g. they beat Heerenveen home and away in 2000/01, drew with PSV home and away in 2004/05.

• Lyon have already played Dutch opposition this season, thrashing AZ Alkmaar 4-1 away and 7-1 at home in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

Form guide
• Ajax are unbeaten in 12 European home games (W7 D5) including winning all six in this season's UEFA Europa League. They conceded in only one of those six straight successes – a 3-2 victory over fellow semi-finalists Celta in this term's group stage.

• Lyon's record in six European away fixtures this season is W2 D1 L3. They have scored at least one away goal in five of those six matches.

• Ajax have appeared in all eight UEFA Europa League campaigns – the sole club to do so – but this is the first time they have reached the semi-finals. They are the only former UEFA Cup winners left in the competition, having taken the crown in 1992.

• Ajax last got to a semi-final in the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League, succumbing to Juventus.

Highlights: Watch Beşiktaş-Lyon penalty drama
Highlights: Watch Beşiktaş-Lyon penalty drama

• Lyon's last semi-final was in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League, where they were eliminated by Bayern München. No French team has won the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Lyon to Amsterdam is around 750km.

• Lyon are the only side left from the eight that parachuted down into the UEFA Europa League round of 32 after a third-placed finish in their UEFA Champions League group.

• Ajax winger Justin Kluivert's father may be able to offer him a few tips on French football; Patrick Kluivert is currently director of football with Lyon's domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain.

• Ajax forward Bertrand Traoré was a trainee in France with Auxerre from 2009–10 before switching to Chelsea's youth set-up.

• Lyon's Mathieu Valbuena was a member of the Marseille team that eliminated Ajax from the 2008/09 UEFA Cup round of 16.

• Ajax come into the semi-finals having had the most attempts on goal (187) and shots on target (76) of any team in this season's competition.

• Ajax's Joël Veltman and Nick Viergever are suspended for this first leg of the Lyon tie.

The coaches
• A Dutch title winner as a midfielder with Feyenoord, Peter Bosz returned from Israel to take charge of Ajax in May 2016. He has managed Heracles and Vitesse in the Netherlands, also briefly coaching Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

• Bosz played domestic league football in France with Toulon from 1988–91.

• Bruno Génésio took the Lyon reins in December 2015, but his links to the club go back much further. A local boy, he joined OL as a trainee in 1983 and represented Lyon as a midfielder from 1985–95. He later worked as a scout and was assistant coach from 2011–15.