Bielsa's LOSC aim to maintain pace

Ligue 1 Conforama > News

By D. Crossan

LOSC will seek to follow up on a fine first Ligue 1 Conforama match under Marcelo Bielsa when they travel to promoted Strasbourg on Sunday afternoon.

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The Alsace club fell 4-0 at Olympique Lyonnais in Week 1, while LOSC swept aside Nantes 3-0 in northern France as Bielsa won the battle of high-profile coaches with Claudio Ranieri. Bielsa's imprint was evident in LOSC's success as LOSC pressed Les Canaris relentlessly, never stopped running, used the full width of the pitch and played with a fluid formation.

"We played in dynamic fashion"

Former Olympique de Marseille boss Bielsa was delighted with what he witnessed: "We played in dynamic fashion and kept the pace very high. We committed very few errors and our goalkeeper (Mike Maignan) was a pillar of the side. We'll have to see if we're able to maintain the same rhythm and quality to our play, but it's a match which has left a good aftertaste in the mouth."

Bielsa, 62, named five new signings in his first starting lineup and Kévin Malcuit, brought in from Saint-Etienne for nine million euros, was full of energy a right-back, winning a second-half penalty. Defensive midfielder Thiago Mendes, 25, was exceptional, making the nine million euros required to sign the Brazilian from Sao Paulo look a real bargain.

Praise for Benzia

The Argentinian coach singled out Yassine Benzia, a player he inherited, for special praise for his performance in the number 10 position. Bielsa said: "Benzia is a player who really helps his attackers. He's excellent at getting away from his markers and managed to find space behind the opposition midfield. A lot of our attacking play was constructed through him. Our two wingers (Luiz Araujo and AnwarEl-Ghazi) knew exactly what they had to do as well."

Ligue 2 champions Strasbourg, returned to the top division after back-to-back promotions, were given a lesson at OL as both Mariano Diaz and Nabil Fekir scored twice. In each of the last three seasons, the Ligue 2 champions have gone straight back down and Strasbourg are determined to break that cycle.

Laurey: "I warned the players"

Relegated from Ligue 1 in 2008, Strasbourg have lost their last 12 top-flight matches and have much to learn about the rigours of Ligue 1 Conforama football. Coach Thierry Laurey said: "I warned the players that the level would be high and it was a level they were unfamiliar with. I didn't lie to them."

Midfielder Benjamin Corgnet, signed from Saint-Etienne, was brutally honest in his assessment. Corgnet said: "We're lacking a lot of things and we have to be honest about that: rhythm, technical quality, defensive solidity and attacking movement in certain situations. We had possibilities to counter that we didn't use to the full and we'll regret those when we look back at them on the video. We did what we could with the means at our disposal and I hope we'll manage to improve as quickly as possible."

The support of the Stade Meinau crowd will be crucial this weekend and picking up points is imperative as this is the only home game Strasbourg will play before the international break at the end of the month.

Probable Teams:

Strasbourg: Kamara; Lala, Mangane (c), Salmier, Martinez; Aholou, Martin; Da Costa, Corgnet, Bahoken; Saadi

LOSC: Maignan; Ié, Amadou (c), Alonso; Malcuit, Thiago Mendes, Ballo-Touré; El Ghazi, Benzia, Araújo; De Préville


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