PREVIEW: Coupe de la Ligue – Lille OSC v Girondins de Bordeaux
For two clubs looking from the outside in at the race for European football this season, Tuesday night offers both Lille OSC and Girondins de Bordeaux hope. Victory in the semi-final would take them just one game away from the chance to qualify for the Europa League.
Meeting at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, the game is too close to call, with inconsistencies and recent results making both sides fairly unpredictable. Willy Sagnol’s visitors could even be seen as favourites, as les Girondins are on a run of 11 games without defeat.
That was put under threat on Saturday when Nantes took a 2-0 lead at the Stade de la Beaujoire, but late goals from Cheikh Diabate and a Lorik Cana own goal earned the away side a point. They are still down in 10th place, but the results have all but saved Sagnol’s job.
At the same time, as the former Bayern Munich defender was under severe pressure, Lille came to a mutual decision to relieve Herve Renard of his duties at the northern club. Notorious mouth-piece Frederic Antonetti was named as the new man at the helm, and for a few weeks it looked like the Corsican boss had turned things around.
Lille’s run of eight games without a loss was brought to a sudden halt over the last 10 days. It began with a defeat to Tuesday’s opponents – Diabate’s second half header helping Bordeaux to a 1-0 home win.
Things would go from bad to worse – knocked out of the Coupe de France on penalties by CFA side Trelissac mid-week, it was all brought to a head on Saturday when Lille became the first club in Ligue 1 to lose to bottom of the table Troyes.
Les Dogues had taken the lead through a Sofiane Boufal penalty, but a late double from Jimmy Cabot and Jessy Pi’s breakaway goal shocked the home crowd and handed ESTAC their first three point haul of the season.
All is not well at the Stade Pierre Mauroy: Saturday’s game was viewed by the lowest attendance since the stadium opened three seasons ago a nd until something changes, don’t expect those numbers to climb above 30,000 for the rest of the season.
Rumours within the club point to attitude issues from a few players, affecting the morale of the group, but at a more basic level, years of not replacing senior members of the squad is beginning to take its toll.
Antonetti is set to make a couple of changes for Tuesday’s fixture, with two of Saturday’s front three set to drop to the bench. Monaco loanee Rony Lopes could play from the start, with his direct style and ability to commit defenders much needed after Boufal’s drop in form.
Bordeaux have been dealt a huge blow for the rest of the campaign, as goalkeeper and captain Cedric Carrasso has been ruled out for six months with a cruciate knee ligament injury. A huge presence on the field for Sagnol, but also a dependable last line of defence, his absence could be crucial to where FCGB finish this season.
Both sides will line up in identical formations, playing 4-3-3, but when looking at the options on the field, Bordeaux’s attack and midfield edge the tie on paper. Usually their strength, Lille’s defence looked shaky on Saturday – if they can’t win that battle, you worry for their chances of progression.
In the league, Bordeaux have only won once on their travels this season. There may not be goals, or excitement, but there is little doubt that Tuesday night will be full of tension and drama. May the best team win.
Lille XI: Enyeama – Corchia, Civelli, Soumaoro, Sidibé – Amadou, Balmont (c), Obbadi – Lopes, Benzia, Bautheac
Bordeaux XI: Prior – Poko, Guilbert, Yambéré (c), Contento – Traoré, Plasil, Chantome – Khazri, Crivelli, Rolan