first team / Metz - OL D-1

Get the win in Metz

Published on the 14 September 2007 à 19:01 by R.B

A new series of 6 matches will begin in Metz for the 6-time champions of France. OL will divide its time between the league and Europe. It’s starting to get serious…and OL needs to get off to a winning start…

It’s been this way for OL at this time of year for the last 8 seasons. The rhythm is picking up and includes a Champions League fixture; the players will change their kits but keep the same obligation to get a result; the European opposition is often at a much higher level and the continental matches are often more intense, committed and of higher quality. While in its first 3 Champions League campaigns (2000-2001 to 2002-2003) OL found it hard to manage the several competitions, the last 4 have been superbly executed. How will it be this time around? Time will tell, but to say that history will repeat itself could well be arrogant.

These 6 matches in the space of 3 weeks will kick off with a trip to face a Metz side desperately in need of points and goals. Metz was promoted this season but didn’t make any significant signings in the off-season. With the 2nd-smallest budget in L1 behind Lorient, the Grenats knew they would do it tough… but not this tough! Sure, their defeats haven’t been catastrophic; and they are improving after a customary adjustment period. But objectively, Marichez and co are shaping up as serious candidates for relegation – they have just 2 points from 7 matches.

OL has returned to its champion-like ways, winning 3 in a row, albeit not in their habitually imperious manner. The points tally is healthy and morale is in good shape. No-one expects Juninho and co to get a poor result in Metz; while there is still room for improvement in their game, the trend would suggest an impending return to top form. They just need to rediscover their collective defensive ethic and a couple of individuals need to regain their touch…

But there are still some important absences through injury. As for Cleber Anderson and Hatem Ben Arfa, they lack game time. Can Alain Perrin use the same XI in Metz and Barcelona knowing that some of his internationals have played heavily during the break? It seems improbable, but still, OL’s France internationals didn’t get much game time. And speaking of France internationals, Karim Benzema will be looking to continue his amazing scoring run, which now stands at 4 consecutive matches. He has never scored against Metz. but he did make his L1 debut against them on January 15 2005, when he delivered a decisive pass for Bryan Bergougnoux just 11 minutes after coming on.

Like Karim, Juninho is also finding form – he just needs to score his first goal for the season. FC Metz, against whom he has scored 3 goals (including 2 free kicks) and delivered 4 assists, will be wary. And even though OL has a habit of doing it tough in Moselle, they can’t afford to lose this match…
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