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Lyon v Ajax background

Lyon lost 4-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final against Ajax, but their scoring rate in this season's competition has given them some hope that they might make it to the final.

Lyon's Nabil Fekir chases Ajax's Hakim Ziyech
Lyon's Nabil Fekir chases Ajax's Hakim Ziyech ©AFP/Getty Images

The most prolific goals-per-game scorers in this season's UEFA Europa League, Lyon will have to get their shooting boots on if they are to overturn a three-goal semi-final deficit against the only former winners left in the competition, Ajax. 

Previous meetings
Ajax's 4-1 success in the first leg was the sides' fifth UEFA competition meeting. Lyon have yet to win against Ajax: W0 D2 L3.

• 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.

Highlights: Watch Ajax win thriller against Lyon
Highlights: Watch Ajax win thriller against Lyon

• 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.

• The teams for their last Lyon meeting on 22 September 2011:
Lyon: Lloris, Cris, Lovren, Källström, Gourcuff, Lisandro (Ederson 73), Bastos, Réveillère, Gomis, Briand (Lacazette* 85), Cissokho. 
Ajax: Vermeer, Van der Wiel (Blind 67), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Anita, Enoh, Sulejmani, Eriksen, Ebecilio (Klaassen* 85), Janssen, Lodeiro (Lukoki 89).
*registered to play in this season's competition.

• Lyon's record in 13 encounters with Dutch clubs is W6 D4 L3 (W3 D2 L1 at home). In all of their match-ups with Dutch opponents, the outcomes of the home and away fixtures have been the same: they beat Heerenveen home and away in 2000/01, drew with PSV home and away in 2004/05. Should that record continue, they will lose at home against Ajax.

• 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.

• Ajax's overall record in 23 matches against French sides is W11 D5 L7 (W4 D2 L5 in France).

Can Lyon end France's UEFA Europa League hoodoo?
Can Lyon end France's UEFA Europa League hoodoo?

Form guide
• Lyon have won all three of their UEFA Europa League home games this season, scoring 13 goals in the process – and conceding four. Average that out and it suggests a 4.33-1.33 home win against Ajax.

• Lyon have twice recovered from away defeats to win European ties. They lost 2-1 at Istanbulspor then won 2-0 at home in the 1997 UEFA Intertoto Cup and – in a direct parallel to their current situration – lost 4-1 at Club Brugge in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup third round but made it through on away goals with a 3-0 home success.

• Ajax are without a win in their last five European away games – three draws followed by two defeats by one-goal margins.

• Ajax have lost four UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League away games by three goals, most recently losing 3-0 at Spartak Moskva in the 2010/11 round of 16.

• Ajax have lost seven European ties after winning the first leg at home, but only once after a victory by a margin of more than one goal, Steaua Bucureşti overturning a 2-0 deficit in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32.

• Ajax's past UEFA competition eliminations after first-leg victories:
2-1, 1-3 v Újpest, 1961/62 European Cup Winners' Cup
1-0, 0-2 v CSKA Sofia, 1973/74 European Cup
2-1, 1-2 (lost 5-3 on pens) v Levski Sofia, 1975/76 UEFA Cup
1-0, 0-2 v Manchester United, 1976/77 UEFA Cup
1-0, 0-1 (lost 4-2 on pens) v Bohemians Praha, 1984/85 UEFA Cup
1-0, 1-3 v Auxerre, 2004/05 UEFA Cup
2-0, 0-2 (lost 4-2 on pens) v Steaua Bucureşti, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League

• 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.

• 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

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

• Lyon have the highest goals-per-game average of any side in this season's UEFA Europa League: 2.86, having scored 20 in their seven games since entering in the round of 32.

• Ajax's Amin Younes, United's Paul Pogba and Celta's Daniel Wass are the only players to have featured in all 13 of their sides' UEFA Europa League games this season.

• Ajax's Kasper Dolberg, Celta's Iago Aspas and United's Zlatan Ibrahimović and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are the highest-scoring players left in the competition with five goals each. Roma's Edin Džeko and Zenit's Giuliano top the rankings with eight.

• Ajax lifted the trophy in 1991/92, making them the only former UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League winners still in this season's competition.

• 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 Monaco from 2009–10 before switching to Chelsea's youth set-up.

• Ajax come into the second legs having had the most attempts on goal (211) and shots on target (92) of any team in this season's competition.

Lyon coach Bruno Génésio
Lyon coach Bruno Génésio©AFP/Getty Images

The coaches
• 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.

• 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.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Lyon have won one of their three UEFA penalty shoot-outs:
L 4-2 A v PSV (2004/05 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals)
L 4-3 A v APOEL (2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16)
W 7-6 A v Beşiktaş (2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals)

• Ajax's record in five UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L4:
L 4-2 A v Steaua (2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32)
L 4-2 N v Juventus (1995/96 UEFA Champions League final)
W 4-3 N v Grêmio (1995 European/South American Cup)
L 4-2 A v Bohemians Praha (1984/85 UEFA Cup second round)
L 5-3 A v Levski (1975/76 UEFA Cup third round)