A positive result was badly needed for Garde’s men, after two disappointing draws at Gerland (versus Valenciennes and Toulouse) and a slap at the Parc des Princes (4-0). The morale of Les Gones had taken a hit and moving to Bastia looked a real challenge as the Corsican’s stadium is a real fortress (19 points earned at home from a possible 21). And yet, OL stood up to the challenge by convincingly winning (3-1) against a corsican team who lost its defensive edge after the break.
One has to agree that Rémi Garde won his bet, which was to rejuvenate the starting lineup and inject some conqueror spirit. The OL coach did not hesitate to leave Gomis and Gourcuff on the bench and to give the offense slots to Ferri and Benzia. This may explain why Bastia was the first to lead the game. The threat first came from Raspentino (10th) then Krasic (21st), before the same Raspentino opened the scoreline (34th , 1-0).
Back to the wall and gutted by the first half, Lyon came back transfigured for the second half. After the break, two successive flashes extinguished the Corsican fire: Lacazette took advantage of a double blunder by Squillaci and Cioni to beat Landreau (54th , 1-1).
Immediately after, Benzia, well served by Grenier, gave the advantage to the Gones (56th , 1-2). Lyon’s domination was then obvious so that when Gomis came into play instead of Benzia (73d min), he put the final nail five minutes from the end thanks to a good ball from Bedimo (85th , 1-3).
With 23 points , OL now sits at the 10th place, six points away from the fourth spot. Nothing worth applauding, but the satisfaction to, at last, watch an enjoyable football from our team.
After a good start which ended in a massive drubbing by PSG, which was so predictable that nobody really paid much attention, today is a good opportunity to see if OL lives up to his rank among “normal” L1 teams.
In his new system with the diamond midfield, Rémi Garde chose to field Steed Malbranque rather than Yoann Gourcuff to face Toulouse. Therefore Grenier should animate the game as the official playmaker (if he shows up, after having gone missing since nearly 2 months)
Absent in Paris due to a back injury, Bafetimbi Gomis also starts tonight.
As for TFC, it will evolve in its usual formation, in which Pavel Ninkov replaces Serge Aurier, suspended.
It’s time to show Lyon’s rank: allez l’OL!
Lyon: Vercoutre – Lopes, Bisevac, Umtiti, Bedimo – Gonalons, Malbranque, Fofana, Grenier – Gomis, Lacazette
Toulouse: Ahamada – Spajic, Zebina, Abdennour – Ninkov, Trejo Aguilar, Chantôme, Sylla – Ben Yedder, Braithwaite
On my left, QSG, the Quatari Star-rich Goliath, fielding a cumulative total of 335 caps in National Teams, and who scored 17 out of a possible 21 points at home this season.
On my right, OL, Outrageously Limited this season, who struggles to field a total of 130 caps, and managed to clinch a mere 6 points away, out of a possible 18.
So it’s a euphemism to say PSG is the archfavorite for this game. The good news for Lyon is that they’re widely presented as complete underdogs, as explained by Gomis, finally fit after his injury on thursday: “Clearly, we have nothing to lose, so it will be an exciting match. We will have no pressure and a positive result is hoped for. There’s something to be done here, with all the respect we owe to this team! “. Now of course he doesn’t say what sort of positive result he is thinking of. A 3-1 would be a positive result, knowing that the Cavani-movitch pair is able to inflict Lyon a 4 or 5-0. But the Lyonnais seems to have higher ambitions. They dream of being the first team to win in Parc des Princes this season… No, I don’t know what they smoked.
Can they do it? They probably have something like a 3 percent chance. Capable of dominating Saint- Etienne in the infamous derby, the team have not really confirmed in the game against Valenciennes and Betis, despite some improvement however. But today, in the spotlights of the Parc des Princes, they have the opportunity to be worty of the Lyon jersey, which for several years shone as much as the 2013 PSG. Leaving aside his usual tune “I build my team regardless of the opponent”, Rémi Garde will try to compose a group who can compete in midfield against the very best of L1 in that area, and also neutralize the Parisians in the air. A central defense with three heads , Bisevac – Koné – Umtiti was in the plans for several days. Like in St Etienne, and because PSG imposes excessive fares to the visitors, OL will not have their supporters behind them, as they boycotted the game. Let’s just hope that, like after the match in Saint-Etienne the champagne will flow at the final whistle. That would be so amazing.
PSG : Sirigu – Van der Wiel, Thiago Silva, Alex, Maxwell – Motta, Verratti, Pastore – Lucas, Cavani, Ibrahimovic
Lyon : Vercoutre – M. Lopes, Bisevac, Umtiti, Bédimo – Malbranque, Fofana – Grenier, Gourcuff – Lacazette, Gomis
Forget about PSG and sunday’s game in Paris. Unlike for the last EL game, when Garde fielded a B team while the A squad were preparing THE derby, this time Garde wants to win this European match. That BB team had then managed to come back with a draw, leaving OL in a position to still top the group at the end of the stage. So a win tonight, plus a favorable outcome of the other game versus Rijeka and Guimaraes, could qualify us already. So that’s definitely an opportunity to be seized.
Indeed, with the hopes of a L1 podium fading away a little further after every game, OL (well, JM Aulas) upgraded the Europa League to the level of key objective of the season. As a consequence, and given the archdominance of PSG this season, the ambition for that sunday L1 game will only be to look decent and avoid being ridiculed by the Paris powerhouse. So the focus of the week is on Europe.
As for Betis, they’re in a slightly better position in this Europa League group, and a much worse position in their domestic league (last!); that explains why they left home important elements of their group, in order to spare them for the weekend game.
Vercoutre – M.Lopes, Bisevac, Umtiti, Bedimo – Malbranque, Gonalons, Fofana – Grenier – Briand, Lacazette
Quick post today as things are pretty simple.
Players and staff alike had been giving away hints earlier this month that something was going on in the team and that they felt confident the crisis was over.
And despite the fact that the last minute win in St Etienne can be considered as lucky given the periods of Stephanois domination in the second half, this win that annihilated all ASSE’s hopes of a victory on their home ground, reinforced the feeling that indeed this Lyonnais team had some nerve and talent.
But that was before the international break. How did that affect the momentum of a team in recovery we should soon find out… Especially as, according to the OL principle, Valenciennes is relegatable and therefore is likely to win.. So today’s game versus the North team is definitely a good test of Lyon’s form.
The probable teams:
Lyon : with Gorgelin, Lopes, Dabo, Ghezzal and Benzia injured, Grenier suspended, the compo should be the following:Vercoutre – M.Lopes, Bisevac, Umtiti, Bedimo – Gonalons (cap), Malbranque, G.Fofana, Gourcuff – Lacazette, B.Gomis Valenciennes : Penneteau (cap) – Mater, Angoua, Kagelmacher, Néry – M.Da Silva, T.Doumbia, Ducourtioux – M.Dossevi, Melikson, Pujol
19 years. It’s been 19 years since St Etienne didn’t win the derby on their own ground.
The rivalry, groomed from the youngest classes of the OL Academy, has consistently galvanised the Lyon troops, leading to this amazing winning streak.
Even now, when you listen to the homegrown Lyonnais from Umtiti, Gonalons or Lacazette to Malbranque or Garde, you get a sense of how much wound up they are, and how different to them this match is.
For St Etienne, it is similar, but to a lesser extent as there are less homegrown Stephanois in the team.
But this enduring proof of OL superiority has been hurting St Etienne’s collective pride for so long that, every year, there’s’a vivid hope that Les Verts will restore this pride. Usually OL was sitting higher than St Etienne in the L1 rankings, so the hope was limited; but this year, the hope is stronger than ever:
-Lyon are much lower in the rankings than St Etienne, who draw against PSG and could have won;
-OL just played a Europa League game 3 days ago, even if Garde left home most of tonight’s starters;
-and Lyon players will feel very alone in the Furnace (nickname of St Etienne’s field in reference to their mining past) as their supporters have been banned by law in the stadium’s vicinity to avoid troubles.
In such circumstances, we can only hope that the collective Lyonnais spirit and strength that unites the players year in year out will be felt and that history will repeat itself.
SAINT-ETIENNE : Ruffier – Clerc, Perrin, Sall, Ghoulam – Clément, Cohade – Hamouma, Corgnet, Mollo – Brandao
LYON : Gorgelin – Lopes, Bisevac, Umtiti, Bedimo – Fofana, Gonalons, Malbranque – Grenier – Lacazette, Gomis
Gutted, Garde. That’s not always the case, but yes, on this occasion he’s gutted.
For tonight’s game that could well reinforce our position as co-leaser of our group, he just decided to field the BB team.
Whether it means Baby team, or the B part of the B team, is up to you, but the fact is : he decided to leave ALL the starters of the previous match (against Guingamp) in Lyon to train with deputy coach Genesio, fitness coach Duverne, and one of the two physios.
Which leaves us with, well, plenty of lethal weapons:
Briand – Danic – Fekir – Ferri – Frick – Gorgelin – Gourcuff – B.Koné – Koné.S – Labidi – M.Lopes – Mocio – Mvuemba – Ngouma – Njie – Plea – Sarr – Tolisso – Tsimba – Zeffane.
That’s 14 products of the OL Youth Academy, and 6 recovering players in search of playing time. Wow. Rijeka can start shivering.
Garde says he’s confident the team can win. Sure. If you ask me, he can be confident the team can lose, too.
And if so (let’s hope it doesn’t happen) that will take guts to resist the torrent of criticism that may flow over him, for neglecting the Europa League after OL criticised the other French clubs so often for taking the EL lightly, and therefore hurting France’s UEFA rankings; but obviously, there’s L1 in general, and then there’s the St Etienne derby next sunday.
And OL’s priority is very, very clear.
The starting teams:
Rijeka : Vargic – Maric, Bertosa, Knezevic, Tomecak – Males, Mocinic – Sharbini, Kvrzic, Kramaric – Benko
Lyon : Gorgelin – Zeffane, B. Koné, Sarr, M. Lopes – Ferri, Gourcuff, Mvuemba – Danic, Plea, Briand
5 points.That’s the distance between OL and the relegation zone.
That’s also the distance between OL and Guingamp, currently 5th before this matchday.
That says it all: OL’s situation is both worrying and not such a big deal.
But the grace period is over, for sure. With only 2 wins in the pocket since the start of the championship, Lyon is in desperate need for points. So tonight seems like a good opportunity to regain some ground… and some confidence.
But things are not that simple nowadays. In any other season, meeting a promoted team like Guingamp -unknown to the L1 followers of the last decade- would have us hardly raise an eyebrow. However this season, this is as worrysome as any other game. After 11 matchdays, Guigamp is 5th for a reason; they’re renowned for their nice collective style of play…
In such circumstances, it is quite surprising to feel some confidence oozing from the team. Garde even talked of a restart of the season. The reason?
Almost nobody left in the infirmary.
Remi Garde even had the luxury to leave Benzia, Bahlouli, Fares, Sarr, Zeffane, but also Gourcuff and Vercoutre play with the reserves against the glorious team of Montceau les Mines (and yes, they won 1-0. What a feat!)
Joke aside, just being able to field the Umtiti-Bisevac pair, freeing Gonalons to go back to the midfield, and gaining more experience in the new 442 system is in itself a reason for confidence.
Lopes – Dabo – Bisevac – Umtiti – Bedimo – Malbranque – Gonalons (cap) – Fofana – Grenier – Lacazette – Gomis
Ndy Assembé – Martins Pereira – Sorbon – Lemaitre – Beauvue – Sankharé – Mathis (cap) – Kerbrat – Yatabaré – Mandanne – Atik
This seems unreal given its recent past: currently 14th, OL is currently at a position unworthy of its status. The question is, is the freefall over yet? After the international break during which many talks were held among players, staff and management, a late equaliser in the Bordeaux game was hailed as a proof of a new never say die attitude from the team. This welcome draw, and more generally the improvement in the team’s collective behavior prompted Aulas to immediately tweet “OL is back”.
He was probably one of the very few to possibly believe it, but last thursday , following the very welcome and long awaited victory against Rijeka (1-0) in the Europa League, Rémi Garde confirmed he had seen positive signs of a change; and Maxime Gonalons said his team would travel to get a positive result in Monaco. This sounded as a cry of confidence after several weeks of gloom and tension.
This is not to say that the Lyon team has raised its ambitions. Facing the media, Remi Garde adopted a low profile before travelliing to Monaco.
“You have to be very realistic. This is a game against a ” Champions League ” team, which, in addition, has not played in midweek, unlike us. The Monaco squad will play their 11th game of the season, whereas this will be our 18th while their team is twice as big, both in quality and quantity, the OL . You have to compare what is comparable … ”
Garde is also conscious that, with so many players missing, no real conclusion can be held. In 17 official games, he lined up no less that 13 different backlines! No other L1 club had to resort to such creativity to plug the holes left by a few suspensions and many, may injuries.
Bisevac, nailed by his coach for the insufficient value he adds to the team, found a reason to be confident: “We played much better against the big guns. The good news is, they’re coming! ”
Subasic – Raggi – Kurzawa – Carvalho – Abidal – Toulalan – Obbadi – Moutinho – James – Carrasco – Falcao
Lopes – Dabo – Bisevac – Gonalons – Bedimo – Fofana – Ferri -Malbranque – Grenier – Briand – Gomis
The more optimistic will say that Monaco’s form seemed to drop lately, and Falcao’s having a more difficult patch, so ASM may be there for the taking. Alors allez l’OL!
Olympique Lyonnais vs. HNK Rijeka
Stade Gerland, Group Stages Matchday 3, Europa League 2013/14
When Jean-Michel Aulas took to discussing numbers this week, he sure left his ambitions at home. Reeling under financial pressures for the past few years, OL posted a year-through-to-June 2013 loss of 20 million Euros. While this is indeed a narrower figure compared to the ones previously (28 million euros, no less), Aulas rued having not cleared the Champions League Playoffs. We’d have attained financial ‘equilibrium’ had we gotten through to the Group stages, he said. So for now, the selling will likely continue. What’s worse, he nailed lady-rumour’s coffin by saying there would be NO major player acquisitions until we move to Grande Stade OL.
Y U NO Europa League?
It is under this backdrop, coupled with the minor hiccup of being placed at No. 11 in the league post the end of 25% of the season, that we approach the next Europa League game against Rijeka of Croatia. We have the honour of being Rijeka’s first French opponents. And Croatia has had the honour of being in Champions League record books courtesy Lyon’s 1-7 victory against Dinamo Zagreb in 2011.
But gloating on that match’s turnaround in fortunes (Thanks Bafe!) would be plenty useless. There is nothing that remarkably separates the two teams in performance thus far in the competition. In a group of four teams, Lyon is at third, and Rijeka is at fourth. The statistics say that Croatian’s have been unable to win against French opponents in the 11 games played since 2001. Rijeka drew against Real Betis, but lost 4-0 to Guimaraes in the last match.
Lyon’s stats are a tad more painful. One win in the last 12 games. I cannot recall a drought of morale that lasted this long for us. This, after starting the season with 4 solid wins on the trot. This time, the solution to this problem has to come from within. Are you listening Mr. Clement The-Next-Big-Thing Grenier?
Remi Garde has signalled the intent to throw in his best team tonight, despite going away to mighty Monaco on Sunday. But injuries mean Gonalons may be looked at as a Central Defender. I do hope Jimmy Briand and Gomis factor in that setup, given their latest form.
Possible Team Lineups
Lyon : A.Lopes – M.Lopes, Bisevac, Gonalons, Dabo – Malbranque, Fofana, Grenier; Briand, Gomis, Lacazette
Rijeka : Vargic – Boras, Datkovic, Knezevic, Bertosa – Males, Brezovec, Pokrivac, Kvrzic – Kramaric, Benko