Girondins de Bordeaux will conclude the first half of the Ligue 1 Conforama season at home to Amiens SC enjoying a nine-match undefeated streak in all competitions and some recent good news off the pitch…
Girondins de Bordeaux - Amiens SC
Bordeaux will conclude 2018 in the bottom half of the table irrespective of the result against Amiens at the Matmut Atlantique on Saturday, but recent events on and off the field have left Les Girondins fans licking their licking their lips about what 2019 might bring.
With their match against Olympique de Marseille last Sunday postponed amid protests in France, Bordeaux's last Ligue 1 Conforama outing was an impressive 3-2 win over AS Saint-Etienne nearly three weeks ago.
A case for the defence
Since then, Ricardo Gomes' men have beaten FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Europe League and booked their passage to the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Dijon FCO on Wednesday. Bordeaux have not conceded a goal in over 200 minutes of football, and for first-team coach Eric Bedouet, that's no accident.
"We can't do anything if we're not strong in defence," he explained. "When Ricardo and I won the Coupe de la Ligue in 2007 we were difficult to beat. Whenever we scored it was difficult to come back against us. This team is not identical, we have different players and personalities, but we must be well covered at the back."
General American Capital Partners this week concluded a deal to buy the club, so a round of January shopping seems likely. Should FC Nantes be tempted to part company with the league's top scorer Emiliano Sala this winter, meanwhile, Bordeaux have a sell-on clause on the Argentine.
Jimmy Briand to start
In the meantime, Jimmy Briand will lead the attack. The veteran forward came off the bench for the final half-hour against Dijon but is expected to be given the nod to try and add to his four-goal haul, with Samuel Kalu not recovering from the knock that saw him make way on Wednesday.
Amiens could prove to be a trickier opponent than their league position of 17th would suggest, though. Les Licornes pushed Olympique Lyonnais hard in the cup on Wednesday, fighting back from 3-0 down to only lose 3-2, while they picked up a vital 2-1 win over EA Guingamp in their last league outing.
Coach Christophe Pelissier is without suspended first-choice centre-back Khaled Adénon, though, and he's taking nothing for granted against Saturday's hosts.
'They should be fighting for Europe'
"If you've watched their games against Paris Saint-Germain [a 2-2 draw in Week 15] and Saint-Etienne, you can see that this is a very strong team who should be fighting for Europe," he explained. Since the arrival of Ricardo as general manager, you can see their stability. They have high-quality players in every position."
In Adenon's absence, Bakaye Dibassy is likely to be shifted in from the left to partner club captain Prince Gouano in central defence, with Jordan Lefort playing outside of them. Poland midfielder Rafal Kurzawa is fit again but striker Moussa Konaté remains out with a groin injury.
Bordeaux: Costil; Palencia, Koundé, Pablo, Poundjé; Plasil, Otavio, Sankharé; Karamoh, Briand, Kamano
Amiens: Gurtner; Krafth, Guoano, Dibassy, Lefort; Blin, Monconduit; Otero, Gnahoré, Ghoddos; Mendoza