Home is where the heart is for Dijon
By A. Scott
Dijon FCO have been one of Ligue 1 Conforama's most entertaining sides this season, and after damaging back-to-back away defeats the Burgundy club are eager to get back on track at home to Stade Rennais FC on Friday.
Dijon FCO - Stade Rennais FC
Olivier Dall'Oglio's men return to their Stade Gaston-Gérard with their pride badly wounded after losing their last two games on the road, and conceding 11 goals in the process. A humiliating 8-0 reverse away to the leaders Paris Saint-Germain was followed by a 3-2 defeat against RC Strasbourg Alsace at the Stade de la Meinau last Saturday after Dijon had at one point come back from two goals down to equalise.
Those matches have served to underline two things: Dijon have the worst defence in the top flight with 45 goals conceded, almost a quarter of that total coming in those last two matches; Dall'Oglio's side also have a miserable record on the road, with just one win - at bottom club FC Metz - and five points collected away from home this season.
Nevertheless, that Dijon are currently three points clear of the bottom three, and within touching distance of the top half, is down to their impressive record in front of goal and their strong performances at home. Only the top four and OGC Nice have taken more points at home, and only Ligue 1 Conforama's leading quartet have scored more goals than Dijon's 31.
"We must learn from what has happened over the last week in order to progress," said Dijon's Tunisian defender Oussama Haddadi, who scored but was also responsible for conceding two penalties in the game at Strasbourg.
Highlights: Dijon lose five-goal thriller in rain at Strasbourg
"When you play against a team like Paris, who have extraordinary players, you have to be solid and aggressive. It is a lesson to us that nothing is gifted to you in football. At Strasbourg we didn't start well, conceding two early goals. After that we reacted and showed character. But now what we need to do is act, not react."
Dijon are unbeaten in six home games, winning five, since losing 2-1 to Rennes in the Coupe de la Ligue back in October. A victory will lift the hosts up to 10th before the rest of the weekend action. And while Romain Amaliftano is still out and Papy Djilobodji completes a suspension, veteran captain Cédric Varrault can return having recovered from an injury suffered against PSG.
Haddadi added: "We have no choice other than to win. It will be a difficult match like any other but, at home, it is up to us to be dangerous and aggressive, in a good way. We need to send a message out to all teams coming to Dijon that it will be very difficult for them. After this last week, we need to bounce back and put together a run of victories and keep working to improve away from home."
Khazri 'gritting his teeth'
Like Dijon, Rennes were eliminated from the Coupe de France at the first hurdle earlier this month so have had a free midweek to prepare for what they hope will be a third successive victory. The Brittany side won 2-1 away at LOSC and followed that with a 1-0 victory at home to Angers SCO last time out, with Benjamin Bourigeaud's late penalty giving them all three points at Roazhon Park.
Visiting coach Sabri Lamouchi is boosted by the return of Wahbi Khazri, impressive since joining at the start of the campaign and available again after after being injured in the 3-0 loss to Olympique de Marseille two weeks ago.
Highlights: Rennes beat Angers with late penalty
"To say that he's not feeling any more pain, of course not, he is gritting his teeth. Wahbi is a competitor. You only need to see him in training. He knows the important games we have coming up and he wants to be a part of them. It's good news," said Lamouchi, whose team have a Coupe de la Ligue semi-final at home to Paris Saint-Germain next midweek.
As well as Khazri, Sanjin Prcic is back from an ankle injury but James Léa Siliki, the 21-year-old midfielder who has featured regularly this season, has been left out of the travelling party for disciplinary reasons.
"I have to protect certain values. I defend my players as best I can, I love them. But for me nobody is more important than the group as a whole. There is nothing very serious in itself. James is a young player. He has barely played 10 Ligue 1 matches. He needs to learn but he will progress a lot because he has huge potential," said Lamouchi, whose team could go provisionally up to fifth with a win.
Dijon: Reynet (c); Rosier, Yambéré, Lautoa, Haddadi; Abeid; Kwon, Sliti, Xeka, Sammaritano; Tavares
Rennes: Koubek; H. Traoré, Gnagnon, Bensebaini, Baal; B. André (c), Gélin; Bourigeaud, Hunou, I. Sarr; Khazri