first team / Le Mans - OL D-1

Continue to shine at Le Mans

Published on the 01 December 2006 à 19:01 by R.B

Despite still being undefeated on home soil, Le Mans have also lost the recipe for winning at the Stade Léon-Bollée. They have drawn their last six games. OL benefited, at last, from not having to play a match in midweek, which might just make them a little bit stronger still…

In 16 days, from 10-26 November, Juninho and Co played 5 matches! Suffice to say that they would have enjoyed this week, a chance to take a deep breath and recharge the batteries after a gruelling two weeks. Their domestic adventure takes them to the Sarthe region this weekend, a beautiful part of France where the Olympians have recently visited on two occasions… for two wins!

Le Mans (or the MUC72) is competing in just the third Ligue 1 season of it’s 20 year-old existence. They haven’t enjoyed the best of Autumns, taking just nine points of the side’s 20 league points. That’s due to the inability of Frédéric Hantz’s side to find a winning goal on home soil (four consecutive draws). Yet one should also note that Les Rouges et Jaunes are a very young side, littered with members of last season’s Gambardella Cup winners (Coutadeur, Samassa, Louvion, Loriot, Douillard…). And don’t forget that experienced midfielders Johan Hautcoeur and Frédéric Thomas also left the club over the summer. But despite the goals from Ismaël Bangoura (8), the league’s top marksman, and the impressive workload of the tireless and promising Mathieu Coutadeur, Le Mans are still lacking a little something.

But, at the same time, there’s no cause for alarm just yet. Les Sarthois are only two points down on their total from the same time last season, a season in which they received a footballing lesson at the Stade Gerland in the final round of the season. This year’s squad also appears to be very good in the air: six headers scored and just one header conceded. So a huge battle in the skies over the Stade Léon-Bollée appears a certainty because Les Lyonnais are the league’s best headers of a football with 7 goals scored but also three conceded.

The quintuple French champions may not be scoring as many goals recently, but they are still the best attack in the land (31). OL also boasts a superb defensive solidity , which is handy when the legs feel a little heavy, the goals aren’t flowing at the other end and the injuries are mounting… indeed, by keeping two cleansheets in a row, OL have joined Nancy as the best defenders in Ligue 1 with just ten goals conceded in 15 games.

The ninth away game of the season? Like all the others, it will be approached with the greatest concentration and desire to win. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, or who starts, or who comes off the bench... we all know the tune that has seen OL march to the top of the standings with an almost frightening regularity, week-in, week-out… Jean Calvé, the MUC72 defender, said: “We’re ready and waiting for OL. Against this team, you have to play football...” That’s perfect, because Lyon love playing teams that play open, flowing football.

The hosts are coming off three consecutive draws, while the visitors have registered three wins on the trot. ‘There’s never three without four,’ but for which team? Of course there’s another possibility, but Lyon fans prefer not to imagine it. After two wins from two in Le Mans, it would be best for Lyon to stick to what they know to do best…
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