first team / TFC - OL D-1

A real test at the Stadium…

Published on the 10 August 2007 à 14:28 by R.B

OL got off to a great start for the season. At the Stadium, looking to keep the ball rolling, Cris and co will have their hands full faced with a TFC side that lost with a poor performance against Valenciennes. A match with a European flavour to it… a real test.

There is no doubt that TFC didn’t play well against Valenciennes. “A real collective meltdown”. TFC’s new recruit André-Pierre Gignac was categorical in his analysis on the club’s official website. His manager Elie Baup seemed to have a similar opinion and straight away ordered an intensive training session after the defeat. “It wasn’t the match the day before that had tired us out…”

They’ll be looking to bounce back. That’s for sure. Also, the challenge of playing Lyon will give them a chance to prepare for their Champions League preliminary against Liverpool. So I’m expecting a pretty hostile reception, as Elie Baup is very good at building up his side, giving them drive and confidence.” Alain Perrin knows his team is the one to beat all around France, especially when a team is looking to bounce back. The men from the Haut-Garonne, still without last season’s first-choice central defensive pairing (Arribagé-Congré) have some solid arguments: Elmander, Emana, Douchez, Dieuze and Paulo César… They have Argentine defender Mauro Cetto, a solid player who can dominate a wing or play in the centre. In the lead-up to their hosting the Reds, TFC needs to steady the boat. They’ll be thinking about January 13 and their night of incredible finishing by Elmander and Emana… 2 goals from 6 shots! After having played with just one attacker in the North, the Violets will probably start with a strike duo of Gignac-Elmander in a 4-4-2.

OL wants to win point on the road as well as at home, and they have done for several seasons. And it works: 41 points out of 84 in 2005-2006; 39 out of 81 in 2006-2007. The title is won away from home. The Olympiens have adopted a new formation, but still remember the old version, so they have several strings to their bow and can choose between them depending on the situation and the opponent. As Alain Perrin says, the team has already shown some excellent and promising form, but there is still room for improvement. They finished well against Auxerre (2 goals from 16 shots), showed they could move the ball quickly in attack, making the most of the talent and good form of Benzema, Govou, Cris and Källström… OL is looking to demonstrate real defensive solidity in its new formation.

If the 18 players called up are the same from one week to another, with the exception of Müller (knee injury scare in training) and if the formation is the same, only the starting XI remains an unknown. Will Juni get a start? And if so, whose place will he take? Bodmer, Belhadj, Ben Arfa, Clerc… all of whom are doing everything they can to cement their place in the team. But will they have a chance in this period where there is little need to rotate the squad? Continuity in terms of selections won’t be a surprise to anyone. At any rate, the fans are looking for it in terms of results…

So, the match has a European flavour, just before TFC takes on Liverpool, looking to join OL in the group phase in mid-September. At the Stadium, the 6-time French champions have had some hard times since the Pitchounes returned to L1; last season they took 4 points from OL, remaining undefeated. It’ll be real test this Saturday at the Stadium…
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