Garde looking to build on OM win
Olympique Lyonnais coach Rémi Garde has an obsession with averaging two points per match and that's exactly what the league leaders have ahead of Saturday's home game against champions Montpellier.
Olympique Lyonnais - Montpellier Hérault SC
After suffering their biggest loss of the season in capitulating 3-0 at Toulouse in Week 14, OL bounced back in magnificent style at the Stade Vélodrome on Wednesday night as Bafétimbi Gomis' first-ever Ligue 1 hat-trick inspired the club to a 4-1 success against Marseille. Garde said: "He plays the role of a locomotive in the team, that's for sure. At Toulouse he'd also tried to lift his team-mates. In the OM game he was essential as a pivot, precious in his movements and clinical in front of goal. It was maybe his best match since I have been OL coach."
Lyon on top
The result took OL back to the Ligue 1 summit, although Garde prefers to do the sum 28 points divided by 14 games equals two points per game: "I accord an importance to the number of points per match. That's an objective and has more value than our position in the table. At OM the players applied my tactical advice to the letter. Maybe they weren't the only ones to have got it wrong at Toulouse. I think our true level is closer to the one we showed at the Vélodrome than at Le Stadium."
Yoann Gourcuff was a late call-off in midweek after suffering a groin twinge but Garde says the French international will be fine for Saturday. He was also pleased with the contribution Michel Bastos made off the bench in his first appearance after two months out with a back injury. Lisandro (calf), Dejan Lovren (thigh) and Jimmy Briand (hamstring) remain sidelined.
OL's strategy this year has involved cost-cutting and giving youth its head and club president Jean-Michel Aulas is unlikely to shift his stance despite the lure of a potential eighth Ligue 1 title. Aulas said: "During the mercato will reflect as to the implications. The economic conditions may make us change our mind. Everything's possible, even if the more the players do well the greater the more expensive they'll be in the marketplace."
Montpellier on the up
Defending Ligue 1 champions Montpellier also approach the weekend with morale high, substitute Jonathan Tinhan securing them a place in the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday with an 83rd-minute winner as they prevailed 3-2 at home to Nice. The result was achieved despite a host of injuries and suspensions and coach René Girard electing to rest Younes Belhanda and Gaëtan Charbonnier.
MHSC have been improving in the league too and have gone five matches unbeaten (two wins and three draws). In Week 14 they were 1-0 home winners over Bordeaux thanks to a goal from in-form Rémy Cabella - their first win over a club ranked in the top half at the time of the game - and Girard's side are now searching for back-to-back league victories for the first time this season.
Girard: "confidence has returned"
Girard commented after the Nice game: "It's good for the fans as they saw five goals. I could have done without so many but we managed to make the difference. It was a good display from my lads and young Tinhan scoring the winner is superb. Our confidence has returned after a complicated start to the season. That's five or six positive results we've strung together now. It doesn't take much in football for flies to change their donkey."
Jamel Saihi serves the third and final match of his suspension. Defender Cyril Jeunechamp has been suspended indefinitely by the LFP's disciplinary commission. Geoffrey Jourdren (ribs), Teddy Mezague (back), Joris Marveaux (thigh), Karim Aït-Fana (knee), Garry Bocaly (thigh) and Vitorino Hilton (ill) all missed the Nice game.
Lyon: Vercoutre - Réveillère, Bisevac, Umtiti, Dabo - Malbranque, Gonalons - Lacazette, Grenier, Gourcuff (or Ghezzal) - B. Gomis
Montpellier: Pionnier - Congré, Yanga-Mbiwa, Hilton, El Kaoutari - Pitau (or Stambouli), Estrada, Belhanda - Cabella, Camara (or Charbonnier), Mounier: