Operation Smash n GrabBy: Nikhil Apte | November 8th, 2012
Athletic Club Bilbao vs. Olympique Lyonnais
Match day 4 – Group Stages – Europa League
Four wins in four games is an offer Remi Garde cannot refuse. Complete the mission and get a guaranteed spot in knockout stages of the lengthy Europa league, simple as that. The match at San Mames comes on the heels of a smart recovery against Bastia on Sunday. A sign of good things to come from Yoann Gourcuff (we never get tired of the signs, do we?) means more playing time for him exactly when Grenier is injured. ‘Tag – you’re it!’
Athletic Bilbao, you’ll never walk alone
Fret not, you’ve got Hapoel Kiryat Shmona with you at the bottom of the table!
Team Bilbao needs this win way more than Team OL does fo-sho. Scoring one point in three games while sitting on a bed of thorns and boos is unsustainable in the long run for them. La Liga this season is a matter of La Arse-Saving for the Athletic. Failure to win this tie will mean nearly certain exit. Teams look for inspiration in such situations. And a cornered team will always turn aggressive.
But Les Gones will be looking for this very aggression! Garde will ask his men to Counter attack should be the name of the game tonight. The perfect smash and grab technique which Lyon made wholehearted use of in the return leg at Stade Gerland. A fine 2-1 victory courtesy a Jimmy Briand goal meant 3 wins in a row and many a column inch gained in publications the world over.
Concede possession. Go goal hunting. Repeat.
Expect goals in the match tonight. Athletic Bilbao games tend to have plenty of them. Greater than 2.5 goals per game in 13 of their last 14 games in the Europa League yo!
Christmas Tree Formation?
Manager Garde has proven to be rather unpredictable in terms of team formations and lineups. Perhaps it is the part of him that learnt about team management while heading the youth academy, but he does seem to include a good balance of senior majority and newbie minority. The substitutions don’t always appear timely, but they’re getting better.
The 4-2-3-1 formation against Bastia worked. Will Gomis be at the top of the tree? Perhaps followed by Lisandro, Gourcuff and Lacazette? The Yoann – Steed combo in the middle is attractive no end! Little-Toulalan Gonalons has settled into his spot snugly too. The rest of the team should be similar to that of the weeks gone by. (Lovren is okay to play in the Europa)
And if Vercoutre has a good evening again, OL would have a good night!
Possible team line ups
Athletic Bilbao : Iraizoz – Iraola, Amorebieta, Gurpegi, Aurtenexe – Iturraspe, Marcos – Susaeta, Ander, Muniain – Aduriz
Lyon – Vercoutre – Reveillere, Bisevac, Lovren, Dabo – Gonalons, Malbranque – Lacazette, Gourcuff, Lopez – Gomis
Oh, and a draw also nearly works to get into top 2!