The Lyonnais, who recorded 5 wins in a row in October, are about to get November under way, a month in which they will dispute 3 league matches and 2 in the Champions League. It all starts on Saturday at Gerland against Valenciennes…
It’s true that the current rankings do not favour Antoine Kombouaré’s men. While both sides are currently in the top half of the table (OL in 1st place, VAFC in 9th), the Lyonnais and the Valenciennois don’t appear to have the same certainties. OL has tops the league ranking at home while VA are ranked 16th on the road with just 4 points from 6 matches as well as the second-most permeable defence (11 goals conceded). Conditions that led the VA manager to he hopes “Lyon will have a bad day”. And to warn that “if they’re at their best, we won’t even exist”.
His stance is very clear-cut, verging on resigned, but not without hope. Notably the hope that his players can rediscover the form that saw them go into October in 4th place on the table. During the last month, Steve Savidan and co have slipped from 4th to 9th, taking just one points from the 9 up for grabs and losing twice on the road, against Lille (3-0) and Bordeaux (2-1).
On Wednesday, in the Coupe de la Ligue, there was improvement. Thanks to goals from Traoré and Pujol, they beat Rennes at the Stade de la Route de Lorient, a performance that led Alain Perrin to redouble his “ wariness”. “Valenciennes could well trip us up,” he warned.
The other source of hope for Savigoal and co is that in their last trip to the capital of the Gauls, they took the lead with 15 minutes left only to lose to late strikes from Cris and Squillaci.
On Saturday, those two scorers won’t be much help. “The only player who I haven’t rested yet is Toto Squillaci,” lamented Alain Perrin after the Coupe de la Ligue win in Caen. With Cleber Anderson coming back from suspension, the OL manager could be tempted to play him alongside Mathieu Bodmer in central defence. Then he’ll simply have to deal with the headache of the midfield, where injuries to Toulalan and Ben Arfa make things very complicated. And then there’s Sidney Govou, who has started the last 6 matches and who will be more than handy in the match against Stuttgart on Wednesday at Gerland, especially if Ben Arfa remains out through injury.
Because in the background behind this match against Valenciennes, the decisive Champions League fixture against the German Champions is looming large. There is no intention of letting slip the opportunity to extend the lead at the head of the L1 table; it’s just a question of dealing with the breathless calendar and a decisive month of November. After 3 league matches and 2 in the Champions League, 4 of which will come at home, we’ll know a lot more about the ambitions of the 6-time champions of France, especially on the European scene. And it all starts on Saturday against Valenciennes.