Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Wed 31 March 2010

Jeu du Jour Week 30: Bordeaux bulldozed

To say that this hasn’t been the best week in Bordeaux’s recent history is something of an understatement. It began on Saturday as Les Girondins faced Marseille in the 16th Coupe de la Ligue Final at the Stade de France in Paris. Bordeaux, holders of the cup going into the match, were up against Didier Deschamps’ side who hadn’t won a single trophy since 1993 when Deschamps himself lifted the European Cup as club captain. For them, the long wait was about to end, but for Bordeaux, a tough week was about to begin.

In 2009, Bordeaux faced little-known Ligue 2 side Vannes and won the Final at a canter, 4-0. This time, Marseille would prove altogether tougher opponents. That said, Bordeaux were the happier team going in at half time with the score at 0-0. Laurent Blanc’s men had the better of the exchanges in the first 45 minutes, but that soon changed just after the hour mark when Mathieu Valbuena – on for injured Marseille skipper Mamadou Niang – crossed for Souleymane Diawara who duly headed in.

Six minutes later, Valbuena got his own name on the scoresheet with a shot that put Marseille 2-0 up before completing a memorable performance as his free kick was deflected in by Mathieu Chalmé to make it three. Seven minutes from time, Bordeaux pulled one back through Ludovic Sané, but by then it was all over. Deschamps had guided his team to a rare moment of glory, and if this performance is anything to go by, Marseille may yet come back to haunt Bordeaux in the remaining weeks of the league season.

While all the attention was on the Coupe de la Ligue Final, Lyon were busy trying to salvage something from the wreckage of their own league campaign. They played bottom club Grenoble on Saturday – under sufferance too following Bordeaux’s request to the LFP that Lyon’s game be moved from Friday to ensure both teams got the same number of days’ rest before their Champions League quarter final three days later. In the end, it would prove futile as Lyon comfortably ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Michel Bastos and Cesar Delgado – a psychological advantage gained before the Champions League circus rolled into town.

Six matches took place on Sunday, chief among which was the battle between Lille – freed from the distraction of the Europa League – and Montpellier – hoping to overtake Bordeaux at the top of the table. The result was a surprise to say the least: 4-1 to Lille, a result which slightly flattered the home side given Montpellier’s battle to equalise following Gervinho’s 17th minute opener. Souleymane Camara did the necessary for Rene Girard’s team, but they were on level terms for only seven second half minutes before the flood gates opened and Lille began the rout.

Montpellier remain in second on 56 points, but they now have Auxerre for company on the same total as well as Bordeaux. AJA’s goalless draw against Monaco on Monday night means all three teams are level, although Bordeaux now have two games in hand. Lille and Lyon are fourth and fifth respectively on 54 points followed by Marseille on 53, but like Bordeaux they also have two games in hand.

So just three points cover the top six teams, and they could soon be joined by a seventh as Rennes continue their charge up the table with a fourth consecutive win. Their 3-1 win at lowly Le Mans means they’re just four points behind Marseille and a victory over Lyon at home this weekend could put them even closer in touch with the leaders yet.

At the foot of the table, Nice continue to pull away from danger with a third consecutive win under caretaker coach Eric Roy. A 2-0 win at Toulouse puts Nice on 35 points, twelve clear of Boulogne in 18th and now level on points with Lens in 15th who went down 5-1 to Nancy.

Saint Etienne remain anchored in 17th spot after their 4-0 thumping by Lorient left them without a win in five league games. As it is, they remain safe for another week thanks to Boulogne losing again – their two game winning run coming to an end with a 3-0 loss at PSG.

All of which left us waiting for the mouthwatering prospect that was Lyon v Bordeaux in the Champions League on Tuesday, and here’s where Bordeaux’s week was officially confirmed as ‘very poor’.

In front of a home crowd, Lyon got off to a flyer when Lisandro Lopez capitalised on a mistake by Michael Ciani with only 10 minutes on the clock. Four minutes later, Marouane Chamakh was Johnny-on-the-Spot once again when he headed in from a Yoann Gourcuff cross to make it 1-1, but 13 minutes before the break, Michel Bastos smashed in an effort from a narrow angle to give Lyon the lead at half time.

Bordeaux needed a quick boost at the start of the second half and nearly got it as Wendel, Gourcuff, Plasil and Chamakh all came close with their own efforts. But it was to be Lyon who’d prove the stronger as Lopez got his second and Lyon’s third from the penalty spot in the 77th minute to seal a valuable first leg victory.

It’ll be all back to the Stade Chaban-Delmas next Wednesday for the second leg, by which time Laurent Blanc will have hopefully worked out where it all went wrong for his team this week, but the damage may already be done for Bordeaux in what’s proving to be a gruelling season all round.

That’s all for now, until next week’s Jeu Du Jour, it’s à bientôt...

Full results and standings available here

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