first team / OL 0-0 Rennes

OL (almost) champions

Published on the 18 April 2007 à 21:11 by BV

Les Lyonnais needed a solitary point to be sure of being beyond the reach of second placed Toulouse. In sharing a 0-0 home draw at the end of a tight and tactical match, they got what they needed…

Boasting a vastly superior goal difference (+32 for OL, +5 for Toulouse), Gérard Houllier’s side are virtually assured of writing a new page into the history of the French first division by becoming the first side ever to win six successive crowns. With an 18-point lead over their nearest rival, Lyon is by far the most comfortable leader in Europe’s big leagues, with Inter leading Roma by a ‘mere’ 13 points. It’s an amazing performance!

Certainly there will be some that highlight the lack of competition for the French champions, no side was able to profit when OL had a run of bad form, during a second half of the season far from as accomplished as the sheer brilliance of the opening 19 rounds. But the bottom line is that OL, once again, left only crumbs for its rivals, killing off all the suspense even before Christmas…

AS feared, OL-Rennes will not go down in the annals of French footballing history. Just like the Coupe de la Ligue final against Bordeaux, Lyon was unable to find the attacking inspiration to unlock yet another defensive unit.

Juninho was the first to worry Pouplin in the Rennes goal: his 20m free-kick flirting with the top corner (11’). And the Brazilian was at it again just before the break, but with no more success (45’). After a Tiago header over the bar, the statistics told the story of a Lyon side struggling to overcome the guests crowded defence: four shots, all off target and two dangerous cut-backs (Hatem Ben Arfa 34’ and Milan Baros 37’)… it’s not much, yet it was more than the second half offered…

After the break, Hatem Ben Arfa tried to turn things around almost single-handedly, but his left-footed effort flew wide of Pouplin’s upright (46’). Half and hour later Kim Källström’s free-kick was held at the second attempt by the young Rennes shotstopper (76’). In stoppage time Baros’ header flew high (90’).

In defence of the Lyon players, it is essential for a good match of football that both teams try and win. Yet on all evidence, Pierre Dréossi’s side were only interested in taking a point back from their visit south. Not a single real chance to score and two shots wide of the mark – OL remembers a Brittany side a lot more adventurous than that…

Overall, the public in the Stade Gerland were probably hoping for a better spectacle. But they will have to wait just a little longer before they are crowned champions… but it’s nothing more than a short delay…
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