Leaders coming into Round 8, LOSC are on a high after thrashing Sparta Prague as they head to Nice, who were walloped at Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday evening.
OGC NICE - LOSC
(Kick-off 16:00 GMT on Sunday)
Yusuf Yazici, the Turkish international, became the first LOSC player to score a hat-trick in a European match as Christophe Galtier's side won 4-1 on Matchday 1 of the Europa League in the Czech Republic. Yet to start a Ligue 1 Uber Eats game this season, Yazici was the major beneficiary of Galtier's squad rotation at Sparta Prague.
Galtier: "I'm very happy for him"
Signed from Trabzonspor in August 2019, the gifted left-footed player had scored only twice in 31 matches for LOSC prior to Thursday evening and his 2019-2020 season came to a premature end last December when he snapped his cruciate ligament. Galtier commented: "We signed Yusuf for 16 million euros so that he would bring us something different with his left foot, his shooting, and his vision. I started him on the right and that was the wrong option. After that, I moved him centrally and that offered us more solutions with his long-range shooting. He proved himself decisive and I'm very happy for him."
Yazici had scored as a substitute in the 4-0 derby win over Lens on Sunday that took LOSC top and his historic hat-trick - two left-footed goals either side of a header - will see him press his claims for a Ligue 1 start, despite the strength in depth at the northern club. Galtier said: "It was important for him and the team. He was happy after the match and when the players are happy in the dressing room, that's a good sign."
Yazici was the standout player as LOSC ended a run of 17 European games without a win and became the only Ligue 1 Uber Eats club to enjoy a European victory this week. Galtier would have loved record signing Jonathan David to have got off the mark for the club but the Canadian missed a great first-minute chance in a match that saw first-team regulars Mike Maignan, Jose Fonte, Sven Botman, Jonathan Bamba and David rub shoulders with fringe players.
Nice battered, pay for playing out from the back
Top of the table for the first time since September 2014, LOSC have won only one of their last 15 Ligue 1 matches against Nice, who haven't fallen at home to the northern club since May 2012. While LOSC enjoyed their Europa League adventure, Patrick Vieira's Nice fell to a humiliating 6-2 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen, despite Patrick Vieira picking a full-strength side that included the fit-again Kasper Dolberg.
Just as in the 3-1 victory at Saint-Etienne last week, Nice - fourth in the table coming into the weekend - conceded a goal trying to play the ball out from the back. Coach Vieira commented: "It's not Walter's (Benitez) or Morgan's (Schneiderlin) fault for the third goal. I will say it again, Walter is one of the best goalkeepers in France. We try to play out from the back, it's the philosophy that we want to put in place and from the moment that you take risks, you will make mistakes, be that Walter, Dante, or another player. We need to avoid them."
Nice (to follow)
LOSC (to follow)