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Lyon handicapped by stadium ban in Champions League clash with Shakhtar


Lyon (AFP) – Lyon coach Bruno Genesio hopes his side can get the better of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday despite being forced to play the game behind closed doors.

Supporters will be absent from the 59,000-capacity Groupama Stadium for the Group F encounter after Lyon were told by UEFA they must play one European game behind closed doors as a punishment for trouble during their Europa League tie against CSKA Moscow back in March.

They were also handed a suspended ban for a second home game, and it is a major handicap for the French club after they stunned Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City last month, winning 2-1 in England.

“With or without fans, we will need to play as well as we did at Manchester City to make the most of our victory there,” Genesio told reporters on Monday.

With a reference to some of the home games during Lyon’s run to the Europa League semi-finals in 2016-17, Genesio added: “We know that it is very important to have our fans behind us in these games.

“We have had quite extraordinary European atmospheres here against Besiktas and Roma which strengthened us greatly. We will just have to do without on Tuesday.

“It is regrettable for everybody. A football match should be played in front a crowd and that is why we all love the big games. 

“We have to accept the punishment and find the motivation even if the atmosphere will be a bit strange.

“We had a lot of praise after the win in Manchester but I can confirm that Shakhtar are a very good side as well.”

The Ukrainian champions began their campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Hoffenheim, and a victory for Lyon on Tuesday would put them in a very strong position.

The last time Lyon played behind closed doors was in April last year, when they won 3-0 away to Metz in Ligue 1.

There will still be around one thousand people at the Groupama Stadium on Tuesday, including 300 representatives of UEFA, 200 guests of Shakhtar and 130 accredited journalists.

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