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Lacazette return gives Lyon hope of Ajax turnaround

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 10 May 2017

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Bruno Genesio says Lyon will be a different prospect with Alexandre Lacazette in attack as they look to overturn a 4-1 first-leg deficit to Ajax in the Europa League semi-finals.

Lacazette played just 15 minutes of the thrashing at the Johan Cruyff ArenA after Bertrand Traore’s double and further strikes from Kasper Dolberg and Amin Younes had Ajax looking at a place in the Stockholm final.

Mathieu Valbuena’s away goal gives the Ligue 1 side hope, however, and they have been strong at home in Europe this season, beating Ajax’s compatriots AZ 7-1 in the first knockout round of this competition.

Lacazette has scored four goals in seven Europa League appearances this season and Genesio hopes his side will enjoy a psychological boost from having their top scorer back in action.

“It changes a lot. He’s our top scorer, he’s our attack leader,” Genesio told a news conference. 

“This is an extra strength for the team. We know that he is able to score at any moment, to grab the attention of defenders. It can free spaces for others. 

“For our team, it’s good for the confidence to have its leader in attack at 100 per cent. But as he has said, he will not do it all alone. We will need a group, a team, if we want to qualify.”

Midfielder and captain Maxime Gonalons also believes the return of Lacazette, scorer of 31 goals in all competitions this season, could help the French club overcome a steep deficit.

“We know the importance of Alex in the team, both in the league and in Europe,” he said.

“Great players love this type of occasion. These are events that can be rare in a career. We have the possibility, even if it is minimal, to qualify for a European final, so we will need a great Alex – without putting pressure on him – to take us there.

“He is a player with high quality, but we have to give him good service so he can exploit his talent.”

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