Lyon v Bordeaux, Champions League quarter-final first leg, March 30, 2010
The all-French quarter final sees the formerly dominant team in Ligue 1 (Lyon) face off against last yearâ€™s champions (Bordeaux) with two sides that have been hugely impressive in the Champions League this season.
Bordeaux (2.00 to qualify from thew tie, Lyon are 1.71) would be clear favourites to win this tie but for a number of blips in recent weeks that has seen them pegged back in Ligue 1 in what is emerging as a six-team battle for the French title. Les Girondins have won just twice in their last six games in all competitions and failed to ease past Olympiakos in the last round.
Laurent Blancâ€™s side are also coming into this match off the back of a Coupe de la Ligue final defeat to Marseille on Saturday night, which saw OM claim their first title since 1993. The former French central defender played his best team at the Stade de France and Bordeaux will have to show character to be mentally ready for a tough encounter at Lyon.
Intriguingly, as he is rated as one of the top young coaches in Europe, Blanc substituted Marouane Chamakh, Yoan Gourcuff and Fernando when Marseille went two-up in the League Cup final with a clear nod to the Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Bordeaux have a strong team as was shown last season when they finally wrested the title away from perennial champions Lyon and by their success in Europe earlier this season when they emerged top of a group including Bayern Munich and Juventus.
Although a strong team ethic is crucial to their game, the quality in their midfield is key. Fernando and Alou Diarra sit in front of the back four allowing playmakers Yoan Gourcuff and Wendel to make things happen for lone hitman, and long-term Arsenal target, Marouane Chamakh. The Moroccan striker is a real handful and claimed the only goal when Bordeaux won 1-0 at Lyon in December. (1.76 to be under 2 goals, 2.01 to be over.)
Lyonâ€™s form is also a little patchy with their 2-0 win over Grenoble on Saturday their only victory in the last five games. This statistic should be tempered by the fact that one of these matches saw them draw in the Bernabeu to knock out the Galacticos of Real Madrid in the upset of the competition so far.
Whilst Claude Puelâ€™s side have failed to show a killer instinct in Ligue 1 this season they have been excellent in Europe, first smashing eight past Anderlecht in the qualifiers, beating Liverpool in the groups and then seeing off Ronaldo, Kaka, Casillas and co.
Following a summer of big spending, their position two points behind Bordeaux (having played a game more) in the league and a place in the quarter finals of the Champions League was the least expected. But for the huge amounts of money spent by Real Madrid and Manchester City, the pressure on Lyon would be much greater today.
Puel was able to rest a number of his stars during their Ligue 1 win over Grenoble and this could be key on Tuesday night. Miralem Pjanic and Lisandro Lopez both came on late in the second half whilst Sidney Govou and Kim Kallstrom spent the entire 90 minutes on the bench.
Michel Bastos and Cesar Delgado were the scorers against Grenoble and their are a number of players to admire in this Lyon side, not least Bastos who could be a major star for Brazil in the World Cup. Aly Cissokho is another who could cause problems for Bordeaux from deep and Chamakh will have his hands full up against Cris and French national team keeper Hugo Lloris.
The whole of France will be watching events unfold at Stade Garland on Tuesday but it will likely be a very tight match. These two teams are well aware of each otherâ€™s qualities and will be eager not to give anything away. Lyon and Bordeaux are also expected to start with 4-5-1 formations and the key moments of the tie may have to wait for the second leg.
101gg predicts: Lyon 1 â€“ Bordeaux 0 (6.15)