Europa League, Prague vs Lyon – Rest and testBy: Megame | November 22nd, 2012
For OL’s new geography, Prague is right between Lyon and Toulouse
Prague standing between the Gauls capital and the pink city? Indeed, for Garde’s men Prague is just something to cruise by before arriving to what truly constitutes the summit of this week: the Toulouse league game.
Surprised? Well be not, for 3 reasons.
First, Lyon is already qualified for the next stage, the knockout stages. The only thing at stake now, bar reputation and pride, is the first spot, that will allow to avoid the big guns in the draw for this next round. But in order to remain at the top spot of the group, Garde’s men only need one point. One draw, and we’ll be topping the group. Largely doable, on the basis of the club’s recent performances.
Second, at least as important as a good run in Europa League, is Aulas’s target of a top 3 spot at the end of the championship, so that the club can get a Champions League spot again, go back to where it belongs and see the Champions League monies return where they belong, i.e. OL’s pocket. So, in the incredibly tight race that this season’s offers at the top, we should take the most of the current run of form and try to make ground compared to our direct challengers before the winter break, when OL traditionnally looses its edge, and this year, should loose 2 players if Aulas is to be believed, possibly our top striker Bafe Gomis. So making ground compared to our direct challenger Toulouse is a must.
And third, TFC is the bane of OL since les Lyonnais have not won at the Toulouse Stadium since November 2005! During its last six trips to the Pink City, the club lost four times, drew twice and scored no goal! So, is this a lost battle? Not necessarily, as the new leader of the Ligue 1 is it better equipped this season to start winning again in Toulouse who have lost four straight games in all competitions.
As a consequence, the name of the game tonight is indeed rest and test. Rest the most used players, Gomis, Malbranque, etc..; and test the ones who you think could grow into something really interesting with more playing time.
That’s why Garde made interesting choices, fielding a revised and rejuvenated team on the Sparta Prague pitch . He composed an offensive trident with OL youngsters Ferri, Ghezzal and Benzia. Behind them, Gourcuff is paired with Grenier -yes, at the same time on the pitch, that is! – and Monzon will start in the back line.
Therefore, Malbranque, Lacazette and Gomis have been allowed to stay in Lyon. Present in Prague, Lisandro is actually not on the scoresheet, and is also spared.
The OL starting eleven:
Vercoute – Monzon, Umtiti, Koné, Réveillère – Fofana, Grenier, Gourcuff – Ghezzal, Benzia, Ferri.