Can Cornet keep it up as Lyon go to Lille?
By A. Scott
Maxwel Cornet has been showered with praise since his exploits against Manchester City, and now the Ivorian is aiming to build on that performance as Olympique Lyonnais travel to LOSC this weekend.
LOSC - Olympique Lyonnais
Cornet was outstanding in Lyon's 2-2 draw with the English side in the Champions League in midweek, scoring both of his side's goals as he took advantage of being given a rare start by coach Bruno Genesio. It was a tremendous performance by the 22-year-old, but OL's inability to hold on for the victory combined with Shakhtar Donetsk winning 3-2 at Hoffenheim means they now need to avoid defeat in Ukraine on the last matchday if they are to qualify for the last 16.
There were lots of positives to take from midweek though, not least for Cornet, who also started and scored when OL won 2-1 away to City in September. It is no surprise, then, that he came in for praise from none other than the City manager Pep Guardiola in the wake of this latest meeting of the clubs.
"The words of one of the best coaches in the world are very flattering but I can't stop here. I am trying not to pay too much attention to the positive remarks. I need to work hard to reproduce performances like that every weekend," Cornet told reporters on Thursday.
The context, after all, is curious in Cornet's case. This is a player who has not started a single Ligue 1 Conforama game this season, making all of his eight appearances from the bench. His only domestic goal came in the recent 4-2 win at EA Guingamp. The former FC Metz forward has been frustrated by the lack of opportunities since a potentially lucrative move to German Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg failed to materialise in August.
'Happy at Lyon'
"There is no point in getting carried away when everything is going well. I had lots of negative messages before City and I didn't pay attention to them either. I just wanted to turn things around. I know what I am capable of. I was in the same mindset before the first game against City. Now I hope to build on it," added the player who Lyon have reportedly offered fresh, improved terms.
Watch: Lyon beat Saint-Etienne in derby
"I am happy at Lyon. It's a big club. I have met the directors and we will see how things evolve," he said. "The most important thing is to play. I need to show on a daily basis that the coach can have confidence in me."
Lyon now return to domestic action defending second spot in the table as they visit the Stade Pierre-Mauroy to take on a Lille side who lie one point behind them in fourth. OL might seem to be infuriatingly inconsistent but they are unbeaten in eight games in all competitions, with the 5-0 loss away to Paris Saint-Germain in October their only loss in their last 15 outings.
They beat AS Saint-Etienne 1-0 in the derby last time out thanks to a Jason Denayer goal in the second half, holding on to win that game despite having Rafael sent off. The Brazilian now begins a three-match ban as a result, but Jérémy Morel is back from a one-game domestic suspension. Meanwhile, Cornet will hope to keep his place in attack while Bertrand Traoré and Moussa Dembélé wait in the wings for recalls.
Lille seek return to winning ways
Lille have won six and drawn one of seven home Ligue 1 Conforama games this season but they are looking to put behind them a poor run of results in November which saw Christophe Galtier's team surrender second spot.
LOSC were held to a 0-0 draw at home by RC Strasbourg Alsace in between a narrow defeat at Paris and a 2-0 loss at the hands of OGC Nice last weekend. Things may not get any easier for them with this game being followed by a trip to Montpellier Hérault SC in midweek.
Watch: Lille slump to defeat at Nice
"I think that if there has been any below-par performance it was the fact that we could have beaten Strasbourg, but I want the squad to keep the same spirit, I don't want them to think we are in an awful situation because we slipped back two places in the table," said Galtier this week.
"The reality is that it was a pleasant surprise to be in second place. That doesn't mean we are not going to fight to stay up towards the top of the table for as long as possible."
Lille are again without powerful centre-back Adama Soumaoro, who may miss the Montpellier match as well. However, Fodé Ballo-Touré and Thiago Mendes are both available to return from suspension - the Brazilian is particularly influential in midfield.
Galtier added: "Lyon are a good test. For me they are the second-best team in the league behind Paris and they played really well in the Champions League in midweek. To get a positive result we will need to put in a great performance."
Lille: Maignan; Celik, Dabila, J. Fonte (c), Ballo-Touré; Mendes, Xeka; Pépé, Ikoné, Bamba; Rémy
Lyon: Lopes; Denayer, Marcelo, Marçal; Tete, Ndombele, Aouar, Mendy; Fekir (c); Cornet, Depay