first team / Le Mans - OL D-1

Heading to Le Mans hungry for more wins!

Published on the 15 January 2008 à 11:01 by R.B

After starting the year with the Coupe de France and the league, now it’s time for the Coupe de la Ligue. OL are heading to Le Mans… a trip they’ve always enjoyed until now. Le Mans lost at home last weekend to Sochaux and are missing several first-choice players…

OL is hungry for everything. Even the Coupe de la Ligue, that the club would love to have back in its possession after already winning it once and going close on two other occasions, like last year… beaten by Bordeaux. OL is hungry and rightly so, even if, for various reasons, the number of absentees doesn’t permit for much squad rotation. OL has the appetite of an ogre because OL is used to winning titles. And there are still titles to be won this season…

Benzema and Ben Arfa are hungry, formidable talents, indispensable engines to the smooth running of the team. Grégory Coupet is hungry to get back to his best. He returns to the Coupe de la Ligue for the first time since January 18, 2003 and a penalty shootout defeat to Sochaux in the last 16. Since then, consecutive reserve ‘keepers have Nicolas Puydebois and Rémy Vercoutre have been between the sticks. Juninho is hungry to leave his mark on this club. The Brazilian wasn’t yet part of the club when the players lifted the 2001 Coupe de la Ligue, unlike Coupet and Govou.

[IMG42405#R]This season, OL are not treating the League Cup as a secondary competition, but Wednesday’s opposition Le Mans will certainly be out for revenge. Les Manceaux lost last season’s semi-final to an Eric Abidal goal at the Stade Gerland, 1-0. Can they knock off Lyon at home this time around? They will have to do it without Romaric, Gervinho, Camara and Sessègnon. The absence of these four members of the starting XI will surely be missed and coach Rudi Garcia doesn’t boast the depth on the bench that Lyon can. Few will have forgotten Gervinho’s mazy dribbles and eye catching skills earlier this season at Gerland in September!

To the absent quartet can be added the suspension of Cerdan, and the injury to Basa – victim of last weekend’s loss to Sochaux! It seems a tall order for Pelé and Co, but don’t forget the romance of the Cup… But Le Mans will have to turn the tables on history: they have always lost against OL – seven League matches and that famous Cup semi last year.

[IMG42831#L] As for Lyon, Clerc has shaken off his thigh strain and the new signings Delgado and Crosas will be joining their new teammates in the Sarthe, if only to watch from the stands. If Lyon can improve its concentration at the back and maintain its form in attack, there will be no real danger… OL is the favourite. Of course in football anything can happen…
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