French trio in Europa League action
Memphis Depay will hope to make a successful return to England when Olympique Lyonnais put their UEFA Europa League ambitions on the line at Everton FC on Thursday, one of three European ties involving French clubs.
Thursday, 19 October, 2017
UEFA Europa League, Matchday 3
Olympique de Marseille v Vitoria SC
With Sunday's Classique at home to Paris Saint-Germain looming, Rudi Garcia is expected to rotate his squad as he looks to make amends for the Matchday 2 loss to RB Salzburg.
"We have to win, we're at home," the Marseille boss said. "We have to crush the qualities of this Guimaraes team and bring ours to the fore. We lost top spot in the group last time out."
Luiz Gustavo and Lucas Ocampos both missed last weekend's Ligue 1 Conforama draw with RC Strasbourg Alsace through suspension and should return. Aymen Abdennour, who has not played since the 3-1 defeat to Rennes in early September, could also feature as Garcia seeks to bolster a back line that has conceded seven goals in its last two league matches.
OGC Nice - SS Lazio
The game at the Allianz Riviera not only gives Nice the opportunity to extend their 100% start to the group stage, but also provides Mario Balotelli with the chance to shine against his compatriots.
The Italy forward has so far been ignored by Azzurri boss Giam Piero Ventura, but has been on a steady upward curve since joining the Ligue 1 Conforama outfit, as coach Lucien Favre said.
"He does certain things better than at the start. Mario needs support, needs us to speak to him. He needs players close to him because he reads the game well and knows how to make a difference," explained Favre.
"He has really improved in his movement. He's becoming more altruistic and effective. He still has a lot of work to do, but we know what that is.
"He works hard in training, he presses when he has lost the ball. It's a little step forward, but it's an important one. But it's not going to be put in place in a year. He needs time. I was already pleasantly surprised by his progress last year, and now he's even more involved in play. He is making a big effort to reach the level required."
Summer arrival Wesley Sneijder, who hasn't featured since late August, is set to play while Jean Michael Seri could be rested.
Everton FC - Olympique Lyonnais
Lyon recorded a famous UEFA Champions League win across Stanley Park at Anfield in 2009, and arrive on Merseyside in high spirits having seen off Ligue 1 Conforama champions and in need of points after successive draws with which to start the group stage.
Mariano Diaz (adductors) and Ferland Mendy (thigh) have been left at home though Bruno Genesio can count on three former Premier League players in his ranks in Rafael, Bertrand Traoré and Memphis Depay.
The latter has struggled to find a regular starting role under Genesio this season, and the former Manchester United star would like to have more time on the pitch.
"I would like to play more matches, more minutes," said Depay, who has made just six league starts this term. "I haven't played a lot recently, but I accept the coach's decision. It's up to me to give everything in training, to grow in confidence because that's important. I'm in good condition, good shape physically."