After defeat against Valenciennes last weekend, les Gones need maximum points when they host les Girondins...
Time is running out for Olympique Lyonnais to mount a serious challenge for the Ligue 1 crown. After defeat in Valenciennes last weekend, les Gones are now a distant seven points from leaders Lille, who are picking up their pace, if anything. Claude Puel continues to fight for the first silverware of his reign at the Stade Gerland, but defeat on Sunday could end any real hopes of the manager picking it up this season.
Lyon were disappointing at the Stade Nungesser last Saturday. Puel’s men made a bright enough start to the match, but Valenciennes rebuffed their approaches and ultimately pulled through thanks to a couple of goals soon after the restart. Though Michel Bastos reduced the arrears to 2-1, OL couldn’t beat in-form goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau a second time.
“This has stopped us in our tracks in the championship,” Puel explained, Ligue 1’s official website stated. “We were up against a very good Valenciennes side and we had trouble getting going, which allowed them to grow in confidence. My team reacted well to going 2-0 down. We started to play as a team. In the last 15 minutes we gave it absolutely everything and it could have worked. I think we deserved to equalise.”
A lacklustre start to the campaign has given the Rhone giants no room to manoeuvre, and though they looked back to their best in a 3-0 league success over Lorient in January, a Coupe de France loss to Nice, as well as last weekend’s reverse, shows that they still have much work to do.
The Best Is Yet To Come
Bordeaux have long since given up their hopes of picking up the Ligue 1 title. Jean Tigana has admitted that the challenge taking over at the Stade Chaban-Delmas is a greater one than he previously believes, though his side remain on the fringes of the European battle, stationed eighth in the standings, only four points behind Lyon.
Already the former Monaco and Besiktas boss has tendered his resignation twice, but on each occasion he was rebuffed by the Bordeaux board, clearly aware that they will struggle to attract another such name with such a pedigree to the ailing club.
Victory over Nice last weekend at home could act as a spur, though. Bordeaux were excellent against les Aiglons, finally looking a well balanced unit and winning through thanks to goals from Ludovic Sane and Anthony Modeste.
“That was the first time this season that we’ve played two equally good halves of football,” the coach said, according to the LFP’s official website. “We played with style and strong organisation tonight; there was a bit of everything. I’m very satisfied.
“I loved the way my side played collectively tonight, with movement and cover. We needed this reaction for the players to regain confidence. It was a good match but I know we can do even better.”
Suddenly there is an air of confidence around Bordeaux again, and having supplemented their attack with the signing of Brazilian international Andre on loan from Dynamo Kiev, there is even room for some tentative optimism on Sunday.
Dejan Lovren returns from a ban for OL, but by the same token Ederson remains absent. It’s expected to be March before the Brazilian returns to the first team picture.
Only Carlos Henrique is ruled out for les Girondins, though it’s unlikely that Marc Planus will be involved in the first team panel as he continues his recovery from injury.