first team / Lens - OL D-1

Fly the flag in the North

Published on the 19 January 2008 à 18:01 by R.B

To redeem themselves for the Le Mans defeat, Les Lyonnais know what they have to do in the North of France on Sunday night… Les Sang et Or, boosted by their Coupe de la Ligue qualification, are too desperate for points to make life easy for OL…

No matter whose available, whose out, or even who Alain Perrin picks, OL won’t have any choice at the Stade Bollaert. The team must erase the memory of the loss at the Stade Léon Bollée. The sextuple French champions “had no right” to be eliminated by an opponent missing so many crucial elements. That lack of application and commitment is somewhat worrying… time to set the record straight! After a convincing, if at times inconsistent display against Toulouse, OL are back on their favoured French hunting ground: Ligue 1.

Next stop? The home of Lens, where the champions have produced some breathtaking football in recent years. But they know they are expected this time around. Lens is looking for revenge after OL’s 4-0 triumph there last season. And there’s also the personal revenge of a certain Nadir Belhadj. The Algerian has a point to prove. But above all, Demont and Co are in the relegation zone, an unthinkable situation at the end of last season…

The club president Gervais Martel called on Le Druide, Daniel Leclercq, to help out JPP. The former coach has so often found the magic potion from the various benches he’s sat on. Pale at Paris, the team was transformed against Nancy in the Coupe de la Ligue. But the new dynamic duo will be without their Africans Coulibaly and Aruna. Not easy to be deprived such strengths. Especially considering Aubey has just caught a one-way flight to England. The Northerners shirts will need blood and gold to get over the line.

Le Racing in need of points to climb out of the danger zone; OL in need of points to maintain their lead at the top. There’s still a long way to go before this championship race is won. For the moment, OL is relying heavily on le trio magique comprising Juninho-Benzema-Ben Arfa. The Mercato is not over yet; the treatment room is still looking after some big names; and other injuries were added to the list against Le Mans - Juninho is a major doubt with a broken toe; Kléber Anderson is out for six months with a knee injury; questions remain over the fitness of Ben Arfa... The new boys Crosas and Delgado are still finding their feet, but could find themselves in the team. Anbd then there's Fred... At least one thing is certain... Mathieu Bodmer will play alongside Sébastien Squillaci in the heart of the defence.



Without ringing the alarm bells, not all is rosy for the sextuple French champions, who are coming off a loss to Caen and a draw with Nancy in their last two away League matches. But a sixth away win of the season would be a welcome return to form…