Lyons aim to take 'one more step' towards first European final

Matters are rarely straightforward in French football, but as Lyons travel to Bayern Munich for tonight's first leg of their Champions League semi-final the present situation takes some beating.

Take the national team. Raymond Domenech conducted a successful World Cup qualifying campaign yet will go to South Africa this summer as one of the most unpopular France coaches in history. Not that his heir apparent, Laurent Blanc, is flavour of the month either, the coach of Bordeaux having been criticised for blaming his players for a recent collapse that looks certain to cost the Girondins the league title.

Public affection has been reserved of late for France's players rather than the coach, but Thierry Henry, the team's elder statesman and last link with the world champions of 1998, remains tainted by his handball in the play-off against the Republic of Ireland and is now only a bit-part player with Barcelona, while Franck Ribéry, who has replaced him as the national team's most popular player, was revealed this week to have been interviewed by police investigating a prostitution network.

At club level the one certainty used to be Lyons' domination, but after winning the championship seven years in succession they were denied last summer by Bordeaux, who had not won the title for 10 years. Now Claude Puel's team are set to be pipped to the post by a club seeking to end an even longer wait, Marseilles having last won the championship 17 years ago. Bordeaux and Lyons cut each other's throats last weekend by fighting out a 2-2 draw.

Nevertheless, to complete the picture of a topsy-turvy world, Lyons have put their domestic troubles behind them to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Although regular quarter-finalists, Lyon had never made the last four until they did so earlier this month at the expense of Bordeaux. Now they are within three games of becoming France's second European champions after Marseilles in 1993. In the build-up to tonight's game Lyon have been selling T-shirts bearing the logo "one more step".

Bayern, in contrast, are veteran campaigners at the sharp end of European competition. However, news of this week's prostitution investigation in France could have a greater effect on the German team than on Lyons, even though it was revealed that both the latter's Sidney Govou and Bayern's Ribéry had been interviewed as witnesses by police. French media reports said that the investigation centred on a Paris nightclub allegedly frequented by escort girls.

Lyons' preparations have not been helped by the ban on flights across Europe. The French team spent two days travelling 600 miles to Munich by road from Bordeaux, where they were playing on Saturday, in 10 minivans borrowed from the club's own academy.

However Hugo Lloris, the Lyons goalkeeper, said the long journey had not dampened the team's enthusiasm, while Puel said he had actually enjoyed it. "We got to see a lot of interesting landscapes in both France and Germany," he said.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Chastain during an interview in Los Angeles.
filmsOscar hopeful Jessica Chastain reveals the secret to her breakthrough success
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
news
Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker