UEFA Champions League

Gourvennec: 'A tough challenge, but an electrifying one'

Publish on 14/09/2021 at 10:00 - S. WILLIS


Under-pressure LOSC boss Jocelyn Gourvennec will be looking to his players' European experience - and their victorious performance in the Trophée des Champions - as they kick off their Champions League campaign at home to Wolfsburg on Tuesday.

UEFA Champions League Group A

Matchday 1

Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille

LOSC - VfL Wolfsburg

- Kick-off at 20:00 GMT

After taking the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title under Christophe Galtier last season, LOSC have managed to collect just five points in their opening five matches of the 2021-22 season - with a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Lorient at the weekend - placing new coach Gourvennec under plenty of pressure early in the campaign.


And now that their European odyssey is beginning, at home to VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday night, the scrutiny of the former Guingamp and Bordeaux boss is intensifying. But Gourvennec feels his side have the experience to rise to the challenge against a Wolfsburg side who sit atop the Bundesliga table with a perfect record of four wins from four matches.

"It's not like we're in totally unfamiliar territory," he told L'Equipe. "Almost all the players have experience in this competition, and I want to believe that that will help us to keep cool heads in this competition, which is on a different level from all the others."


Despite still being without Portugal midfielder Renato Sanchez (knee), Gourvennec - who himself  played Champions League football with legendary mid-90s Nantes and coached Guingamp into the Europa League Round of 16 in 2014-15 - knows his side can recapture the solid defensive form and incisive cutting edge that took them to Trophée des Champions glory with a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Tel Aviv at the beginning of the season.

"We showed that we can get the job done against a strong team - even with some crucial absences," he underlined. "We stayed solid and resisted the opposition's technical domination. We have to build on that and create solutions to open the scoring, which will pave the way for the rest. It's a tough challenge, but an electrifying one."    

Yilmaz, David to lead the line

While Gourvennec has to keep Saturday's important Ligue 1 Uber Eats Derby of the North against arch-rivals Lens in mind, he is set to stick to the club's tried and tested 4-4-2 - with a full-strength line-up featuring Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David up front - as LOSc look to get he better of their German visitors.

Probable teams

Grbic; Djalo, Fonte (c), Botman, Reinildo; Yazici, André, Xeka, Gomes; Yilmaz, David

VfL Wolfsburg:
Casteels (c); Bakuk, Lacroix, Brooks, Roussillon; Guilavogui, Arnold; Nmecha, Phillip, Steffen; Weghorst