Testing Toulouse trip for troubled OL
By D. Crossan
When you are out of form Toulouse is not the place you would choose to go. That though is exactly what lies in store for troubled Olympique Lyonnais this Saturday afternoon.
OL have already lost five of their 10 Ligue 1 matches this season and have only half the points of the Ligue 1 leaders Nice going into Week 11. On 13 points, OL are seven points behind third-placed Paris Saint-Germain and are five points behind fourth-placed Toulouse, who have already collected more points in 10 games than they did in the entire first half of last season.
Fresh from qualifying for the round of 16 of the Coupe de la Ligue by beating Ligue 2 club Auxerre, Toulouse have an outstanding home record to protect as they've won four home games from four in 2015-2016 to proudly boast the only 100% home record in the division.
Le Stadium became a fortress from the moment Pascal Dupraz took over in March and the former Evian coach wants his players rewarded for their form with bigger attendances. Toulouse have averaged 19,411 fans through the turnstiles this campaign in an arena which can play host to just over 33,000.
Dupraz: 'I hope the Stadium will be full'
Dupraz said: "Since I've arrived here we've won nine out of 10 games at the Stadium. We got through a round of the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday against Auxerre in a match which gave some very young players some game-time. The players conduct themselves in a professional manner and I'd like to thank the fans that came to the stadium. For that little touch of craziness in games we need more people to come to the ground. I hope the Stadium will be full on Saturday for the Lyon game as when it's full even the ground shakes."
OL have lost five of their last six matches in all competitions, the exception being the derby victory over Saint-Etienne in Week 8. Nevertheless president Jean-Michel Aulas has set an ambitious points target of 31 - five more than Nice currently possess - by the winter break.
Aulas sets winter break target of 31 points
Aulas said: "First of all, we mustn't be completely negative: we lead the league in terms of chances created - we're ahead of Paris - and we're also top in terms of possession. But we’re still 13 points behind Nice and we need to start coming up with answers. It's worrying but it's no crisis. My objective is reaching the 31-point mark by the winter break. That would be better than last season's 26 points. To do that, we'll need an average of two points per match over our next nine matches. We showed last season that we could turn things around, winning 11 of our last 15 matches. We're lucky enough to have a great atmosphere in the squad, so all we need to do is right the ship."
Coach Bruno Genesio has come in for criticism because of Lyon's poor form and his ratio of 31% of losses in Ligue 1 is the worst of any OL coach in the top division since Raymond Domenech's tenure between 1989 and 1993. Moreover, five league losses from ten games has not been endured by the club since the 1997-1998 season when Lyon went on to finish sixth in the table.
Pointing out that Lyon were 10 points back from Monaco in January of this year and still managed to overhaul the principality club to finish runners-up behind PSG, Aulas is convinced OL will turn the corner.
He said: "We're not in the upper reaches of the table but we can still make it to the knockout rounds in the Champions League and figure among the league top side's come the end of the season. If we show a bit of patience, great things will start happening and I'm counting on the support of our fans to help us stay on track."
Toulouse FC: Lafont; Yago, Diop, Jullien, Moubandjé; Blin, Bodiger; Sylla, Trejo, Durmaz; Braithwaite (c)
Olympique Lyonnais: Lopes; Yanga-Mbiwa, Mammana, Morel; Rafael, Ferri, Gonalons (c), Tolisso, Rybus; Fekir, Lacazette