OGC Nice vs. Olympique Lyonnais
Matchday 37, Stade du Ray, Ligue 1 – 2012/13
This is the biggest match of the season for Nice. It is their last match EVER at Stade du Ray before moving to the new Allianz Riviera for the next season. For Nice, it is a must-win not just for sentimental reasons, but to get a chance to bring the Champions League home for next season. For Claude Puel, the time for revenge for the 3-0 defeat at Stade Gerland is NOW. For OL, not winning here will mean praying hard in the last match next week when things will not be their hand.
- Image credit : olweb.fr
Going into the last two matches, it is all incredibly tense. Remi Garde is tired of talking points. Lille are net just 2 goals away from crossing over Lyon’s goal difference of +21. And just 3 points away. PSG secured the title at their weekend win at the Gerland while Marseille is rooted at second place by default. Us winning tonight’s match and anything other than a win for Lille means sure qualification for Champions League playoffs 2013-14.. Any other result and it will go down to the wire for the last day! All matches start at the same kick-off times of 2100 tonight and for the next match as well in classic showdown style. Only the 3rd-4th-5th and 18th-19th places are worth playing for and not playing for respectively.
The Nice OL duel started in the 1950s and today will be one of the most important confrontations in their history together. Nice has won the last two home matches with six goals and just one conceded, while Lyon showcases the third best away record in Ligue 1 currently. OGC Nice is peaking at a great time – the end of the season. Having been near 10th spot in the table for the first half of the footballing year, they have rarely given up the fight for the European spots. A lot of credit goes to Nice striker Dario Cvitanich who has notched up 17 goals (one better than Bafe Gomis). He’s sure to be on a few wish lists in the transfer window!
Lyon peaked during November-December of last year. And has been happy playing catchup since. A bit too happy, in fact, looking at the way we let 2nd spot slip since March. For tonight, out of the many permutations, a Lille loss to Montpellier and a Lyon draw should also be sufficient to confirm the 3rd spot once again.
Alexandre Lacazette was sorely offensively missed in the second half against PSG. Gourcuff has achieved his short-term target of getting back into the National team for the Brazil/Uruguay friendly clashes in June. Gomis is in the forwards group too. For some reason, Gonalons didn’t make the cut this time. For some reason, Steed Malbranque has not been under consideration for the first team suddenly. He was part of the subs against PSG but did not feature. Perhaps Grenier-Gonalons and a working condition Gourcuff don’t leave him with much claim to the first team. Keeper Anthony Lopes did quite well against PSG, except for the Jeremy Menez shot, though the defence was to blame for that. I though Bakary Kone did well alongside Umtiti too, to keep PSG at 1 goal and Zlatan irritated.
The talking point of the match may well end up being the referee, however! Clement Turpin seems to be still mourning the loss of his gold fish as he continues to send people off all the time. 14 times in 19 games this season! We ask for a fair fight (and a lot of red cards against Nice).
Allez Allez Allez!
Meeting this year’s PSG is never a pleasing prospect. The remembrance of last winter’s game in Parc des Princes is still painful, as with many absences and a fair dose a bad luck, OL had struggled to exist. It’s not a reassuring prospect either to meet them just when there’s a horde of followers all after our current third spot: St Etienne, Lille and Nice. But, OL doesn’t have the choice, and since the PSG is not yet champion, we might as well try to get our revenge and still prevent them as much as possible to be crowned this evening in Gerland… For that, the Lyonnais must win, or at least not lose, in order to also maintain a small advance on the followers.
A feverish Paris team who should switch to CL mode
Observers of PSG couldn ‘t believe what happened recently: a fight after the Valenciennes game, after which several Paris players and members of staff got involved against opponents, and, more seriously, against referees. As a result, Thiago Silva, Verrati and goalkeepe Salvatore Sirigu got a red card, and Manager Leonardo, accused of aggression by the referee, is suspended pending investigation. So coach Ancelotti has a hard time trying to calm everyone down, while preparing for an all important game that could see the Quatari-owned club celebrate its first title in 19 years.
But, even if unrest has troubled their last weekend and if these absences are a blow -especially Thiago Silva who’s brought control and serenity in the backline- I wouldn’t count too much on them being subject to distraction or loosing their nerves tonight. They most likely will up their game, just like they did in Champions League against Barcelona. Plus, it’s the first time Ibra hasn’t scored in two consecutive games, so it’s almost certain he will do in Gerland. Antony Lopes, beware!
A focused and almost complete OL team
Hosting the Paris armada, the OL team are regrouped and concentrated. With Réveillère and Briand left out, Ghezzal suspended, Lovren and Lacazette not yet fit, it’s a young and fairly inexperienced group that Garde has selected with regards to mindset as much as performances. But they’re all focused on reaching the key objective of the season: cling to the podium to hope and find the Champions League next September; But there are several obstacles to pass before reaching that point.
Before going to Nice next Saturday for one last -and risky -travel for this season’s League 1 championship, Rémi Garde’s boys prepared this Parisian encounter, as if a good part of its future depended on it. After all, if we consider the last 4 games, OL is topping the championship on points earned and goal difference. So why not aim for a win?
Indeed, in Gerland, the PSG did not shine since 1994, the year of its last championship, with only one victory (in 2005), for 7 draws and 10 defeats; but the memory of their last passage is not a pleasing one for the Lyonnais, who conceded a 4-4 at the end of additional time. A new draw this evening would leave OL with the assurance to keep its destiny in hands, but with an increasingly reduced margin. But at least, the team of Rémi Garde would remain concerned by the final sprint. After its long lapse of dizziness in March-April, it comes to connect three victories and no one and took again colors. Of course it should not be forgotten that at the beginning of March, the OL was still fighting with Paris for the title and could imagine a “final” with Gerland in this evening. This dream passed, and it is necessary today to accept a reality that is a little less flattering. Lyon accepted its fate, while keeping ambitions at a certain level. In the last games, some values that seemed lost have regained vigor, just as some players like Koné, Gourcuff, and recently Gomis seem to be getting back to shape just at the right moment. So there are reasons to hope!
Allez l’OL, just fight, make us proud and don’t let QSG open their Champagne bottles tonight!
Lyon : Lopes – Fofana, Koné, Umtiti, Dabo – Gonalons, Mvuemba, Grenier – Gourcuff, Benzia, Gomis.
PSG : Douchez – Jallet, Sakho, Alex, Maxwell – Matuidi, T. Motta – Ménez, Pastore – Lavezzi, Ibrahimovic.
AS Nancy-Lorraine vs. Olympique Lyonnais
Matchday 35, Ligue 1, 2012-13
A passable 1-1 draw against Saint-Etienne later, OL travels to Nancy this evening in the hopes of getting a firmer footing on 3rd spot. Marseille is provisionally 7 points ahead with 67, while PSG will definitively win the league if they win tonight against a mid-table Valenciennes. Even after tonight’s potential win for PSG, there’s an outrageous mathematical chance of PSG losing the last three matches and Marseille winning them all AND recovering an atleast 32 goal deficit. Don’t sell your house to bet on those odds, one would suggest. The top threats to 3rd spot are Saint-Etienne, Lille, and suddenly OGC Nice, who are provisionally tied with Lyon on points!
A five-game near comatose state was ended by OL in mid-April after a decent 3-1 win over Toulouse. That followed with an undeserved 2-1 victory over Montpellier and continued by the draw in the Derby du Rhône means Remi Garde may just get to keep his job and Lyon a Champions League spot for next season. Such a standing in the table is important to attract anyone Garde wants to buy as well. I just hope Aulas doesn’t go on a Pharoah-rant before the end of the season though. Can put a few people off, JMA.
Nancy is in a perilous position of being just 1 point away from relegation job. Luckily for them, OL isn’t a big believer in the job of an undertaker. It believes more in CPR. Dips in form, injuries, and loss of momentum happen at just the right times to help underprivileged opponents. Remi Vercoutre has retired for the season. His contribution in the locker room will be missed! 22 year old Anthony Lopes has taken his place for the next four matches, and he cannot afford to get carded, injured, or kicked in the head. Hmm. I suppose we’ll see some physicality from the strikers of ASNL tonight.
Lisandro is available for the match, after a sudden calf-injury that came and went. Lacazette is doubtful once again. We sure are missing his runs down the right wing! Reveillere is doubtful for the match as well. Rachid Ghezzal is suspended AND injured, so there. Come on Lyon, we need these 3 points tonight to get clear of these other Champions League contention pretenders. We are THE Champions League contention pretenders!
Today’s game is much more than Lyon trying to protect their third spot from the fourth, St Etienne. This is THE derby.
After 2 decades of derbies (during which Lyon supporters have grown in confidence whereas Les Verts fans, with no nails left to bite, stopped hoping that their team would one day topple the powerful Rhone neighbour) there has been one hiccup, a St Etienne win that prompted the demise of Claude Puel.
But today, the situation is far more dramatic than it then was:
-St Etienne are yet to lose a ligue 1 game in 2013, whereas Lyon lost 5 of these 13 games
-Having just won the Coupe de la Ligue, and celebrated it with the massive support of the population, just gave a huge boost to Galtier and his boys; conversely, the Lyonnais have been struggling for weeks and even months now to find ways to end their disarray
- Aubameyang and Brandao (19 and 10 goals this season) are enjoying a level of form, confidence and support that Gomis and Lisandro (14 and 10 goals) could use… and Lacazette, who until yesterday wasn’t sure to be apt to play, isn’t at 100%.. And Ghezzal is out.
- ASSES’s impressive goal difference (28 goals, 9 more than OL and second only to PSG) isn’t only due to the effectiveness of their strikers, but also to their top defense, with strong Ruffier and his backline. Quite the opposite for Lyon, who have been struggling for stability and performance throughout the season. But today the situation is even worse, because Rémi Vercoutre just broke his cruciate knee ligaments yesterday at training and is out for 6 months, which means that young Anthony Lopes will keep the goal cage. As Réveillère isn’t fit yet, most likely Bisevac will start to give the back line some experience and character, even though the Kone-Umtiti pair had done well recently. And boy will these 5 guys be tested tonight…
I could go on and on with reasons to fear this game; but I count on the young Lyonnais, the likes of Gonalons, Grenier, Umtiti for whom THE derby still keeps a strong meaning to echo Garde’s hate of a St Etienne win and make us proud of our team tonight.
Montpellier Herault SC vs Olympique Lyonnais
Matchday 33 – Ligue 1 – 2012/13
The Defending Champions Montpellier await an OL team that is confused about its merits. A poor stumble of form later Lyon shocked themselves with a 3-1 win over Toulouse. Gomis got himself on the scoresheet and now leads the all-time Ligue 1 goal scoring tally in currently active players with 86 strikes to his name. I bet he now hopes PSG doesn’t keep Zlatan for long.
Montpellier is on a great run at home lately. 19 points behind PSG with 6 games to go, they may have lost the theoretical chance of retaining their title, but they will be looking for their 10th win in 11 games at home tonight. They are the second best at Home behind PSG with 34 points of their 48 earned here. MHSC has targeted a European spot and wants to win all remaining 6 games, no doubt. For Lyon, the ’surprise’ victory last week got them the coveted Champions League spot once again. That leaves us two points clear of 4th placed Saint-Etienne, who we fight immediately after Montpellier! That will be a 6-pointer alright!
Remi Garde is trying to get his house in order. Lisandro this week acknowledged a dip in his form. Lacazette is injured with a hamstring issue and will not appear in tonight’s match. The challenge is currently keeping your top players fit, and motivated till Week 38. Milan Bisevac continues to serve his two match ban for a sending off against Stade Reims. Dejan Lovren twisted an ankle against Toulouse, and is doubtful for tonight. He’s not in the playing eleven, but is in the subs. It is an interesting bench tonight, as Gomis is on it, Lisandro is playing lead. We may also get to see Jordan Ferri in action, as well as Benzia if both strikers don’t do well or we’re winning with just too much awesomeness.
How low have we already dropped? On the evening of the 26th matchday, the PSG was still in sight, three points ahead, but the OL had a rather comfortable mattress, 5 points ahead of Marseille, 6 of Nice, 7 of St-Etienne 10 of Montpellier and Rennes, and 11 of Lille.
6 weeks later the pack are there, close behind, and we can even feel Lille’s breath on Lyon’s neck. Marseille overtook us and now St Etienne are on the podium instead of us.
But, as hopeless as this freefall may seem, after appalling displays against Bastia, Sochaux and Reims, it still may not be too late. Now that the pressure is more palpable, the differences in maturity and nerve between chasers start to show. For instance, on Friday night, St-Etienne was too shy to continue progressing against Valenciennes. It high time the team raised their head as the race for the podium, ultimate goal assigned to Garde and his boys, isn’t over yet; other teams will slow down; and one can’t help to believe that all of the qualities that kept OL in the top 2 of Ligue 1 for 29 days can’t have totally disappeared within a few weeks.
So -it’s a euphemism- it is time to react. The problem is: Toulouse are hardly the best choice for that. Ol hasn’t been able to win in Toulouse for seven years; and the last slap in November (0-3) hasn’t been digested by Garde.
But what was then an exception in the progress of his team has since then become customary: in their last five matches, Remi Garde’s troops took only two points out of a possible fifteen.
So what levers to actuate is the big question mark. Between Aulas’ speeches, the reflections within Garde’s staff, and players discussions, everybody tries to ignite a durable reaction.
On Wednesday evening, a large part of the OL group got together in a pub to watch the Barça-PSG match. “When things get bad, it is important to tighten the group. It was a good evening, “said Gonalons, who was at the origin of that invitation with Rémy Vercoutre and Clément Grenier.
Whether it is drinks between players, face to face interviews with the coach, voodoo dolls, gurus of team motivation, or Aulas dancing naked in the moonlight, I’m ready to accept anything, as long as we get back to where we belong at the end of the season. And it starts today.
Vercoutre – Réveillère, B. Koné, Umtiti, Dabo – Gonalons, Fofana – Lacazette, Grenier, Lisandro – Gomis
(Lovren isn’t suspended today, he’s sidelined due to his recent press declarations in Croatia)
Blondel – Ninkov, Zebina, Abdennour, Aurier – Capoue – Regattin, Didot, Rabiot, Tabanou – Ben Yedder
Stade de Reims vs. Olympique Lyonnais
Stade Auguste Delaune, Matchday 31, Ligue 1 – 2012-13
In the Home fixture against Stade Reims back in November, OL beat them 3-0. Stade Reims was then in the middle of a 16 match winless streak. But no inference is necessary, people.
Lyon has just had a winless March, and that without any distractions other than an international break. Two draws and two terrible losses still earned everyone their pay-cheques. And extensions to some (Umtiti and Benzia just extended). Third place right now is with Lyon by default.
There are no words to describe what has really been happening here.
And none will be offered today.
P.S: I’ve been travelling, please pardon the lack of any length to the post.
A little less than two weeks after the crushing defeat in Bastia (4-1), and an international truce finally welcome to reflect on it, Rémi Garde had two tasks on his plate. First, to explain the collective failure in Corsica ; second, to bounce back against Sochaux. “I expect that we all together show a different face, in particular after this second period in Bastia absolutely unworthy of what we want to do.”
Blame and shame
Indeed, all commenters had the same opinion, wondering how a title contender not so long ago could show such a face unworthy of L1. “Worse than juniors” said former Lyon and France coach Raymond Domenech. The Lyon President also had harsh words in the press right after the game: “Tonight, it really is a big disappointment. I personally blame my players who have shown more confidence in individual discussions, in their desire to negotiate their contract, than in solidarity on the pitch.” For Jean Michel Aulas, this was a tough cookie to swallow, as he insisted, the day after : “48h later, the signs of the slap are still there” . Rémi Garde also was particularly angry after the game. A few days later, having watched the game and reflected on it, he blamed a lack of humility of some of his players as an explanation for this major blunder. “One has to question himself, ask oneself when one is good or not and accept the questioning. Here, we are coming out of a defeat and we need to redeem ourselves. “Everyone, without distinction. “This is not necessarily only the problem of young players. There should not be any difference between young and old. We all wear the same jersey. »
To get a few elements of answers if not a complete explanation, Garde has deepened his analysis through multiple individual appointments with the players. In his usual approach made of analysis and dialogue with the players, he has always sought to empower his players, rather than imposing his views; through these face to face meetings he appealed to an awareness of each individual at the service of the team.
Whatever the organisation, provided we get the three points
One can therefore imagine everything: a status quo, a change of men, or a change in its system. 4-3-3 or 4-4-2? Licha, Gomis, or both? Malbranque, Mvuemba or Fofana? Grenier, Gourcuff or none of them? Plenty of questions, not too many answers. But in his usual manner, the Rhone coach kept silent about his intentions. “we have not always evolved in the same organisation. We changed, we have sometimes done it and done it well”
Winning, whatever the men, whatever the organisation, primarily on a strengthened team mindset, this could be the objective of hosting Sochaux who struggle for survival in Ligue 1 but fares well against big guns (draw against Lyon, wing against PSG and OM). A crucial encounter, between two struggling teams, which will surely decide the end of Lyon season, as the Lyonnais will then head to Reims next Sunday. “We come to a time where we something important is at stake that may become exceptional. Being aware of this is very important. When you start a competition, you play to win. We still have this possibility and it is a source of motivation much more important than our opponents. I think that Sunday’s game is of extreme importance. ” Rémi Garde will not accept that the eleven lined up in Gerland today could demonstrate less desire than their opponent of the day. After all, it is the least of things. Therefore of course the state of mind, the commitment of captain Gonalons and his teammates are the foundations he will build to bounce in a trajectory worthy of a second, if not first, of the championship. “From there, we will get back our game and everything that we had done well not so long ago.”
I will personally attend the game in Gerland with my whip to check if the players give everything for the Lyon jersey and achieve the daunting task of winning at home against the 18th of the League… I dearly hope I won’t need to make use of it.
Allez l’OL !
Lyon : Vercoutre – Dabo, Lovren, B. Koné, Umtiti – Malbranque, Gonalons, Grenier – Lacazette, Gomis, Lisandro.
Sochaux : Pouplin – Corchia, Carlao, Kanté, Sauget (or Mikari) – Boudebouz, Poujol, Nogueira, Roudet – Bakambu, Sio.
At the Lyon Offside, we’re lucky to have readers from all over the world, with an amazing range of backgrounds and interests. And despite this incredible diversity, as unlikely as it may appear, they have one interest in common : the Olympique Lyonnais.
However, whilst this blog allows everyone to share feelings and comments, sometimes readers would like to use a longer and more elaborate format to develop their ideas. And we welcome this, so much so that we decided to publish the submissions we receive from now on.
So, whether you fancy your tablet to react after a game, jump on your keyboard as soon as you hear a transfer rumor or prefer to grab a pen and paper to jot down a few thoughts about the current issues of the team, don’t hesitate and send us your articles, opinion papers, pictures at lyon(at)theoffside(dot)com.
And don’t be shy: Remember, before daring write a first article, none of us here had any blogging experience either…
We’ve made sure we have unlimited mailbox space…. so go on and shoot!
And now, an article submitted by a Lyon Offside reader just after the Bastia debacle:
You Don’t Replace Dinosaurs With Dragons!
by Nicholas Mamo
Speeches have never been my forte. They never will. Truth is, I’m more comfortable in front of a monitor with a keyboard at my fingers. And maybe that’s why I write articles, not speeches. But what happened today robbed the few words I had, and now that words are finally reappearing, I feel I have to put pen to paper and do something with them.
Last Summer Aulas bashed the dinosaurs and pharaohs. According to him, they were to blame for most of Lyon’s poor results. And it didn’t take long for Aulas to get his way – the dinosaurs left and the pharaohs found their place. But no one replaced them, with the club opting to give the youngsters a chance. And when the season started, Aulas’ bet left everyone baffled – it had paid dividends. Lyon showed France that they weren’t there just for the second place – the first one was also up for grabs. Fast forward three months and bafflement has been replaced by disbelief.
The then-leader has changed his visage. The players who should be shouldering responsibility seem comfortable in another seat. The dinosaurs who left found their place taken by others. Only this time they seem more like dragons. Everyone’s afraid of them – yet on the pitch they’re invisible, imaginary, nonexistent. The likes of Gourcuff, Lisandro, Gomis, Lovren and to some extent even the Fabled Malbranque have shedded their masks and a noticeable performance from them has become a rarity.
The media and pundits were wrong – the anti-PSG hasn’t risen yet, and it’s not Lyon. Instead of Cris leeching money, Lyon have Lovren. And Gomis. Instead of Bastos, Lyon now have Gourcuff on the sidelines. His performance against Bastia showed he might as well have been injured.
Lacombe’s tears as he sat in the stands could well have been waterfalls, because they still wouldn’t have cleansed Lyon of players whose time is over. Lacombe was also mistaken when he said that Garde is Lyon’s Guardiola. Guardiola found an already-furnished Barcelona side, and he only had to apply that perfecting touch. Garde has so much more to do. Lyon have finally realized that the youngsters are still youngsters, and that they alone can’t rival big-spending clubs, or even above-average teams.
Now the Dragonborn has returned, and it’s plated in gold made from oil. It’s mission is solitary – kill the dragons’ team. And it will succeed. You’d be naïve to think otherwise.
SC Bastia vs. Olympique Lyonnais
Matchday 29, Stade Armand Cesari, Ligue 1 – 2012-13
Another top-table-bottom-table encounter for Lyon. Visiting Corsica once again after taking a 3-1 beating against Ajaccio last month, OL should set right a run of form gone bad since exactly this match ended.
PSG is 4 points ahead on the top of the ladder. Since they play tomorrow, a win here tonight increases the pressure on PSG to perform at Saint-Etienne, currently fourth in the league behind Marseille. Yesterday, in a goal-less draw against Ajaccio, Marseille clawed a point back to maintain 3rd position with 51 points.
The last match against Bastia ended in a 5-2 thumping at Stade Gerland back in November. The team has generally not been impressive against top table teams this season, but such teams often take special pride in making Lyon fall.
For Les Gones, the last two league games have been unfruitful. Lyon’s form in the last six games is L-L-W-W-D-D, far from the 2 points per game average Garde was aiming for! The next three games against Bastia, Sochaux and Reims SHOULD be won, no excuse for this. PSG has enough distraction in the form of Barcelona in the 2-legged Quarterfinals of the Champions League, so they may drop some in the league. A bit of luck and dominance over bottom table teams may well see us back on top of the table, with the match against PSG still to come in May.
For the first time in months, both Jimmy Briand and Yoann Gourcuff are available for selection. Anthony Reveillere is out with an adductor muscle issue, Grenier is out with an ankle problem, and Lovren is out with a thigh injury.
Do well Lyonnais!
Possible Team Lineups
Bastia : Landreau – Cioni, Mary, Choplin, Palmieri – Khazri, Faty – Inkoom, Ilan , Beauvue – Modeste
Lyon : Vercoutre – Dabo, Bisevac, Kone, Umtiti – Malbranque, Gonalons, Fofana – Lacazette, Gomis, Lisandro