Bordeaux v Olympiakos, Champions League last 16 second leg, March 17, 2010
Although the ugly duckling of this week’s Champions League ties, arguably Bordeaux’s match-up with Olympiakos could be a watershed moment for French football. Lyon’s heroics against Real Madrid last week suggested that maybe, just maybe, French teams could be about to take the Champions League by storm this season – a feat which hasn’t been achieved since Monaco reached the final way back in 2004. (Lyon are 13.00 to win the Champions League, Bordeaux are 21.00)
Had this match been played several weeks ago, most talking-heads would have ruled out any chance of an Olympiakos away win as pure folly. But Bordeaux, who are hanging onto their top spot in Ligue 1 by an ever-decreasing thread, arrive to the match in patchy form that offers a hint of light for the Greeks who trail 1-nil from the first leg.
Les Girondins have been given a domestic wake-up call in recent weeks, failing to win any of their last three games in a run that has thrown their title defence into question as their eight-point lead at the top has evaporated. Over the course of the last ten days Bordeaux have been held by second placed Montpellier, defeated by in-form Auxerre and frustrated to a scoreless draw by a Monaco unit in mediocre form.
Bordeaux, though, can make the case that those Ligue 1 matches should all be viewed in light of Wednesday night’s fixture. Manager Laurent Blanc has cautiously handled star players Yoann Gourcuff (7.00 to score first, 2.62 anytime) and Marouane Chamakh (5.50 to score first, 2.00 anytime) in recent weeks – the pair only playing 20 minutes at the end of the match with Monaco last weekend – while right-back Matthieu Chalme was not used at all in the last match.
One player who could prove decisive in the match is Brazilian winger Wendel (2.62 to score), who has been one of Bordeaux’s star attackers this season. Known for his delivery from dead-balls, Wendel has been in fine form in the last few months in which he scored five times in Bordeauxâ€™s last four during February.
Yet while Bordeaux have strength up-top, it is there watertight defence which has been so impressive in this season’s competition. Goalie Cedric Carrasso hasnâ€™t conceded a Champions League goal in his last four matches in the competition, and with Olympiakos knowing they have to score to stay alive it will be a tall order for the Greeks to breach the home team’s goal.
While Bordeaux are having a wobble at present, things are much tougher for their Greek opponents. Having won the last five Greek Super League championship in a row, and having won nine of the 10 league titles in the noughties, Olympiakos are having their toughest season for years as they currently lie third domestically.
With the championship a far off dream this season, success in the Champions League is made all the more important. However the omens aren’t good for Serbian coach Bozidar Bantovic who knows only too well that Olympiakos have only won two of their 38 away games in the Champions League. That stat is worsened by their form in this season’s competition in which the Piraeus club have failed to score on its last four away trips.
As is often the case for struggling teams, Olympiakos have selection problems ahead of their visi to France. Dudu (foot), Diogo (hamstring), Jesus Datolo (hamstring) and Didier Domi (foot) are all out, while concerns linger over the returning Enzo Maresca (6.50 to score) and top scorer Kostas Mitroglou (9.00 to score first, 3.50 anytime) (who broke his nose last weekend in a 2-all home draw with Pas Giannina).
Of those fit and able for the Greeks is a large contingent of ex-Premier Leaguers. At the back Olof Mellburg and Raul Bravo should both get the nod, while in attack Lomana Tresor LuaLua (3.50 to score) and Matt Derbyshire (3.75 to score) could both be selected for the kick-off.
If Olympiakos are able to score first on Wednesday then, with the wind in their sails, the tie could go either way. However, while the romantics may be pining for a Greek upset, all signs point to Bordeaux plodding their way through to the quarter-finals in a potentially tight encounter.
101gg predicts: Bordeaux 2 – Olympiakos 0 (6.00)