first team / During the break

The home stretch

Published on the 19 November 2007 à 14:12 by R.B

Next Saturday in Rennes will come the last stretch of the first half of the season, before the winter break. 7 matches to play in 4 weeks, including 2 crucial clashes in the Champions League…

The OL squad members not involved in the mid-week international action will meet up on Tuesday to resume training. These players know they have some serious work to do before Christmas and the winter break. 5 league matches: in Rennes, against Strasbourg, in Caen, against Nice and in Nancy. 2 in the Champions League: Barcelona and Rangers. 5 to maintain and even improve their position as league leaders; 2 to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Quite a schedule, much more complicated than the last two times around. At this stage of the season, the Lyonnais had already qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League and had a 12-point lead over Lille (2006-07) and 9 over Bordeaux (2005-06). They had a 15-point lead over Lens at the break in 2006-07 and 12 over Lens in 2005-06.

In the Champions League, it’s useless to go over the various scenarios in which OL can qualify. They need a minimum of 4 points and a maximum of 6 to stay in the running. Not to mention having to have a superior goal difference by the end of it…

In the league, the situation is as follows: Nancy trails by 3 points with a match in hand; Bordeaux are 6 behind and Rennes 7. OL travels to Rennes on Saturday and then to Nancy in round 19. The Lorrains will host Lille and Valenciennes while OL will travel to Le Mans, Strasbourg and Toulouse to round out the first half of the season. OL plays Nancy in the last match before the break! Quite an appetizing match before the Christmas turkey and eggnog!

Before any of the festive delicacies, however, OL will remember that it always has trouble with its last match of the season... be it in the lead or otherwise. Since season 2001-02, OL has never achieved the sensational before going on holidays. The numbers? 4 draws and 2 losses. They lost 2-1 to Sedan in 2001-02, drew in Sedan in 2002-03, drew against PSG 1-1 in 2003-04, drew with OM in 2003-04, lost to Lille 3-1 in 2004-05 and drew 0-0 with Monaco on 2006-07. But for the moment, December 22 is some way off.