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How did Lyon win six consecutive league titles without a world-class striker?

Lyon won six consecutive Ligue 1 titles without having a striker score more than 16 league goals

14, 12, 16, 8, 14, 11.

No, that isn’t next week’s winning lottery numbers. It’s the goals scored by Lyon’s main strikers between 2001 and 2007.

But, far from damaging Lyon’s chances, the goals correspond to the most successful period in Lyon’s history.

Ahh, the good ol’ days

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Ahh, the good ol’ days

For seven seasons in a row (the last of which featured a brilliant striker, but more on him later) Lyon finished top of the table in France.

While PSG have set about dismantling Ligue 1 with the (soon-to-be) most expensive attacking trio in footballing history, Lyon took a different approach.

So how did Les Gones win so much without a world-class striker?

Is no one going to say anything about the state of that trophy?

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Is no one going to say anything about the state of that trophy?

An average bunch

Lyon’s first two title wins were spearheaded by Brazilian Sonny Anderson who scored 14 and 12 goals respectively.

Peguy Luyindula took over the role for the third title win, scoring 16 goals, before Sidney Govou succeeded him to score eight times for the fourth consecutive title.

Lyon’s striking merry-go-round continued with Fred, who scored 14 and 11 times during the fifth and sixth title wins.

You don’t play for a title winning side if you’re a bad player. But at the same time you wouldn’t have called any of the six strikers world-class during the period they played for Lyon.

Two hands in the air if your name is Peguy Luyindula

AP:Associated Press
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Two hands in the air if your name is Peguy Luyindula

Monopoly

Two men dominated the top scoring charts in France between 2001 and 2007. Those two men were Pauleta and Djibril Cisse.

Cisse was named Ligue 1’s top goalscorer in 2002 and 2004 after scoring 22 and 26 goals for Auxerre.

In 2006 and 2007 it was PSG’s Pauleta who lifted the top gong, with 21 and 15 goals respectively.

Leave some goals for the rest of us.

One of the best sponsor/kit combos ever

EPA
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One of the best sponsor/kit combos ever

The deadliest set-pieces in the world

So who was scoring all the goals when Lyon’s strikers were off colour?

Antonio Augusto Ribeiro Reis Jr, aka Juninho Pernambucano- the possessor of the best right foot in world football.

Juninho played in all of Lyon’s title wins, hitting double figures on four occasions.

But it wasn’t just the numbers. It was the fact he was scoring free-kicks from ludicrous areas of the pitch…

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Looking closer to home

Lyon’s title win in 2008, which turned out to be their last in the run, was different from all the others.

Les Gones finally had a top scorer award to go along with the league title, thanks to 20 goals from Karim Benzema.

The academy graduate made his Lyon debut during the 2004/05 season and had established himself as France’s leading light by 2008.

All those years of average strikers when Benzema was right under Lyon’s nose. Zut alors!

Je m’apelle Karim

EPA
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Je m’apelle Karim

Any luck since?

While Lyon haven’t won Ligue 1 since 2008 they have managed to produce another top scorer.

Alexandre Lacazette, who made his league debut the season Benzema left for Real Madrid, was named top scorer after blasting 27 goals during Lyon’s 2014/15 campaign.

Of the current crop ex-Madrid striker Mariano has started life at Lyon well, with four goals in six games, taking him level with captain and academy graduate Nabil Fekir.

But, world-class striker or not, after 9 years in the wilderness Lyon would settle for anything that sees them return to the summit of Ligue 1.

The man to lead Lyon back to the promise land

Reuters
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The man to lead Lyon back to the promise land

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