European explorers return to Ligue 1 action
By A. Scott
Less than 72 hours after playing in Europe, Girondins de Bordeaux and Olympique Lyonnais meet at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in what is a key encounter for both clubs.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Girondins de Bordeaux - Olympique Lyonnais
Bordeaux and Lyon became used to the demands of playing Europa League football on a Thursday evening in the first half of the season, with both adapting rather well. They will once again have to recover quickly for a return to Ligue 1 action this weekend after energy-sapping ties against top-level opposition.
Francis Gillot's Bordeaux have certainly had the furthest to travel after facing Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine. However, they would have returned with their morale very much intact after gaining a 1-1 draw in the Ukrainian capital that sets them up nicely for the second leg.
OL determined after being undone by Bale
Lyon, meanwhile, flew straight from London to the Gironde after losing 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday evening. A shorter journey it may have been, but it came after a painful ending to the game at White Hart Lane, as Gareth Bale's last-gasp free-kick denied Rémi Garde's side a draw.
Nevertheless, a stunning strike on the half-volley by Samuel Umtiti gives them hope for the second leg, and the young defender believes there was nothing wrong with the overall level of performance.
"I was pleased to score the goal but I am disappointed because we lost," he said. "We were solid defensively though. We can take three points from Bordeaux by doing what we did against Tottenham. It was a real physical battle, and it’s a real shame we lost. We are all determined to get back to winning ways in the league."
Back-to-back 3-1 losses
OL certainly need to, after suffering successive 3-1 defeats at the hands of Ajaccio and Lille to drop six points behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain. They are also now looking over their shoulders to a chasing pack that is creeping up behind.
A trip to the Stade Chaban-Delmas, where OL have not won since their last title-winning campaign of 2007-08, promises to be tricky, however. Bordeaux are one of those clubs in the chasing pack behind the top three and are tough to beat at home, with their solitary defeat there this season coming at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain last month.
Obraniak underlines importance
Gillot's team were poor in going down 1-0 to Ajaccio last weekend but he will have been pleased with the display in Ukraine, where Ludovic Obraniak underlined his importance to Les Girondins by scoring a superb equalising goal, before Dynamo later missed a penalty.
"We were very lucky but also courageous," Gillot said. "I must salute my players because they never gave up. It was a favourable result but we suffered a lot."
Having sent out a strong team for that game, he must now hope his players can recover quickly for the clash with Lyon, whom Bordeaux beat 2-0 at the Stade de Gerland back in September and also beat 1-0 at home last season.
Les Girondins are struggling to score goals at the moment, a problem that was already apparent before top scorer Yoan Gouffran departed for Newcastle United. However, this game could see young Uruguayan striker Diego Rolan make his Ligue 1 debut after his move to France last month from Defensor. Landry N'Guemo has missed Bordeaux's last four matches because of injury, while Brazilian full-back Mariano missed the midweek European tie after coming off with a twisted left ankle against Ajaccio.
For Lyon, Dejan Lovren is available after sitting out the Lille defeat due to suspension. Former Bordeaux star Yoann Gourcuff faces between two and three weeks on the sidelines with an injured left thigh, though, while Jimmy Briand has not played since the 3-2 win away to Athletic Club de Bilbao in the Europa League on November 8.