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A special match…

Published on the 31 October 2012 à 07:02 by RB

OL make their entry into the Coupe de la Ligue at the Stade du Ray against an OGC Nice side coached by a certain Claude Puel…

"This is not a match between OL and me... just another match between Nice and Lyon…" Claude Puel was direct in his declarations made just 48 hours in advance of this Last-16 clash. Others might have said the very opposite! Plenty of water may have passed under the bridge but there is still a lot of feeling here. The current Nice boss will be up against a number of players that signed for Lyon while he was in charge (Lisandro, Gourcuff, Briand, Gomis, Lovren), and others who he debuted in the top flight (Lacazette, Grenier, Gonalons). He will meet up with men he worked with, who will be on the visitors' bench on Wednesday. Some have even joined him at Les Aiglons, like Jérémy Pied and Kolo and the fitness coach Alexandre Dellal. Will all that provide extra motivation?

It's a match between old friends, but also a Cup game, a knockout over 90 or 120 minutes and a place in the quarter-finals of the competition that took Lyon all the way to the Stade de France last season. The Coupe de la Ligue remains the shortest way to qualify for Europe. It's also a chance to get away from the pressures of Ligue 1 and the Europa League and give some younger players some playing time, rest others. It all depends on the fixture list and the ambitions... but one thing is for sure, once they cross that white line, the desire to qualify takes over.

This isn't a match between me and OL... just another match between Nice and Lyon...

OGCN aren't setting the world alight in Ligue 1 with just nine points from one win and six draws. Their last win was back in September when they qualified for the last 16 of the Coupe de la Ligue against Stade Brestois. Clearly a victory over OL would give them the boost they need to get their season back on track. In the game versus Stade Brestois, Claude Puel went with his regular first-choice XI, with the exception of the goalkeeper... Odds are he'll do the same this Wednesday.

OL didn't play their match against Marseille last weekend because of the weather. They head back to the Mediterranean coast hoping for less wind! Will the weekend's postponement mean Rémi Garde has changed his plans? Hard to tell… "I want to play this competition and I'd prefer to win it than watch someone else win it... I want a competitive team." The Lyon coach also highlighted that he has plenty of selection options. Young goalkeeper Lopes will start in goal for his first-team debut. Gourcuff is, by all accounts, available. Monzon will certainly want to play on his return to the Stade du Ray…

This is a special and exciting match. Last season OL was superb, going all the way before losing in the final. ASSE, LOSC, FC Lorient… so many fantastic memories. How nice it would be to do it all over again!

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