first team / Nancy - OL D-1

Plant the flag at the summit

Published on the 21 December 2007 à 18:00 by R.B

There's nothing better than to finish the first half of the season with a match like this. The Lyonnais, Autumn Champions once again, will travel to 2nd-placed Nancy with the firm intention of widening their lead at the top of the table or at the very least not seeing it shrink…

Nancy and OL dominated the first half of the season. They have almost exclusively occupied the top two spots since the beginning of the season; the Lorrains until round 9 and the Lyonnais since then. Pablo Corréa's side have the league's best defence, with only 10 goals conceded so far, while Alain Perrin's men have the best best attack, with 37 goals scored, as well as the league's top scorer (Benzema 12). And while the Nancéens have slowed down somewhat in the last 6 rounds, taking just 7 points, the Olympiens haven't taken advantage of it to widen their lead, having taken only 10 points from a possible 18. As a result, ASNL sits only 4 points behind the six-time champions of France.

Incontestably, L1 two top sides have weakened slightly of late. ASNL and OL haven't scored a single goal since round 16; ASNL is winless in 4 matches, 3 of which were draws; OL is coming off a loss and a draw. Coincidentally, their pursuers haven't done much better!

Assured of the top two spots, in the current order, before the break, these final 90 minutes could change a lot. A win for Nancy would really get the title race back in full swing, despite everyone saying that OL is "have the league wrapped up"; a win by OL would further confirm their domination. Things would obviously remain the same in the unwelcome case of a draw. So what sort of spirits will the two sides be in when they meet on the field? Risk-taking, game-playing, hesitant, counter-attacking… "There will be no early holidays...". That's what Alain Perrin said in his press conference.

Nancy, a solid side. At home, Nice's Bamogo, Sochaux's Erding and Auxerrois Lejeune have been the only ones to beat this powerful defence, which features notably the remarkable Puygrenier. The midfield works without giving an inch; Gavanon still has the kind of passing game that can turn the most innocuous set piece into def-con 5. On top of that, they have talents such as Hadji, Kim, Dia… A tough team to move around that has only gone behind on the scoreboard on 3 occasions this season.

The Lyonnais are once again Autumn Champions. Sure it's not by as big a margin as last year (15 points, over Lens), but this OL seems to have a sufficient lead, whether the numbers back them up or not. Sure the 6-time champions of France have slipped somewhat in the last 2 rounds - which happen to be the rounds before and after Ibrox. "In Caen, the players didn't want it enough; against Nice, they couldn't…" The lads just need to give it one last push before the break to show who's boss on the domestic scene. But they'll have to do it without Juninho, who is suspended.

A week's recuperation, physical work and training matches… All the ingredients are there for OL to show its best side, especially if Benzema can lift the whole side to plant the flag on the summit of Nancy. It would also be a nice way for him to celebrate his 20th birthday.
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