first team / ASSE - OL D-1

A high-octane derby

Published on the 08 December 2012 à 20:00 by R.B

The two sides are both in the top three, separated by five points... OL top the table... Saint-Etienne are unbeaten in ten matches... it's the 105th derby with lots of youth academy talent in the mix...

 The derby between Saint-Etienne and Lyon is always a huge occasion for the fans and for al football lovers. There's something for everyone before, during and after the match; from the excessive to the passive, no-one is left unaffected. And this year the excitement ahead of this clash of arch-rivals should be enough to warm up even the most glacial of temperatures at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard...

OL sit atop the table with a two-point lead over OM... and five over Les Verts. Over and above the question of local bragging rights, Sunday's match could have serious consequences on the league table for these two ambitious sides playing some of the league;s best football.

OL is enjoying considerable success with their rejuvenation of the team, with the youngsters stepping up and delivering results. ASSE have rediscovered their best form with Christophe Galtier at the helm; the Saint-Etienne coach has intelligently put together a talented, successful and balanced squad.

OL struck a massive blow in recent weeks by hammering Marseille at the Vélodrome... and by comfortably qualifying for the last 32 of the Europa League with some some beautiful and effective football. They also have the best attack in Ligue 1, led by in-form striker Bafétimbi Gomis (ten goals). ASSE are unbeaten in Ligue 1 in ten matches, notably beating PSG at the Parc des Princes, and haven't lost in 13 matches if you include the Coupe de la Ligue. They boast the best defence in the league (ten goals conceded) and in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they have one of the league's top strikers (eight goals), who leads the league in on-target shots (29 out of 49). ASSE are into the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue, where they will take on Lille at home.

OL can count on the experience and quality of Malbranque, Gonalons, Bisevac, Réveillère, Gourcuff, Gomis, Dabo and Vercoutre… while Les Verts can rely on Perrin, Clément, Clerc, Ruffier, Cohade and Aubameyang… OL also has promising youngsters Grenier, Umtiti, Lacazette, Ghezzal and Benzia in the mix...

And for this 105th derby, the players' roots will come to the fore. Umtiti, Ghezzal, Malbranque, Lacazette, Grenier and Gonalons are all graduates of the OL youth academy and could be in the starting line-up, with fellow youth team stars Lopes, Benzia and Ferri on the bench… while for ASSE, Clément and Clerc also came up through the OL youth system… Perrin, Guilavogui, Ghoulam and Mayi have played for les Verts since they were kids… not to mention Dabo and Gomis, who are former Saint-Etienne players... Christophe Galtier was once assistant coach at OL, while on the Lyon bench, Garde and Génésio are Lyon through and through. All these factors come together on Sunday to make for a high-octane derby!

 A very special 105th derby! Afficionados would know that OL have won the last four meetings between the clubs since the infamous 100th derby at Gerland. They would also know that ASSE haven't won a derby on home ground since their 3-0 triumph on Paril 6, 1994!

So, it would seem that all the ingredients are there for a wonderful evening of football. There shouldn't be any big surprises in the line-ups. For the seven-time French champions, the first XI should be very fresh after Rémi Garde rested most of his key players against Kiryat Shmona in the Europa League on Thursday night.

The derby is certainly a passionate affair. A big win? A tight match? A thrilling draw? We're all set to find out... No doubt in Paris and Marseille, all eyes will be turned towards the derby on the banks of the Rhône...

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