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Lyon in trouble as French lead evaporates

Lyon in trouble as French lead evaporates

League leader Lyon is struggling to hold off its title challengers and its senior players are even questioning whether they are good enough to win the French championship for an eighth straight time ahead of Saturday's away match at Grenoble.
Lyon has won only one of its last six matches and was held to a third consecutive draw last weekend, a run of form that has seen its lead over second-place Bordeaux shrink to just one point.
Asked if Lyon could win an eighth title after its 1-1 home draw with Lorient on Saturday, defensive midfielder Jeremy Toulalan hardly sounded confident.
"That's the big question and we will see at the end of the season" he told Canal Plus television.
Ahead of the Grenoble game, injury problems are mounting and the team is struggling to score when top striker Karim Benzema fails to find the net. Coach Claude Puel's team has only 24 goals in 20 league games _ a far cry from last season when the tally was pushing 40 under Alain Perrin.
Govou, defender Cris and playmaker Juninho have also spoken out recently to express their disappointment at Lyon's alarming loss of form.
Lyon has 39 points from 20 matches, Bordeaux has 38 and Rennes is next on 37.
Winger Sidney Govou will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his right Achilles tendon during training Wednesday, and Brazilian striker Fred desperately wants to leave the club.
Before his injury, Govou was equally pessimistic when he told France Football magazine that Lyon is "average" in every department and "maybe we inspire less respect than we did in the past."
Cris highlighted how the loss of key players over the years, such as Mahamadou Diarra, Florent Malouda, Michael Essien, Eric Abidal and Gregory Coupet, has gradually stripped Lyon's dressing room of its leaders.
"There are only three of us who talk (now)," Cris told sports daily L'Equipe. "The others listen but don't say anything."
The veteran defender added that the time has come for Lyon's players to start accepting more responsibility for the recent poor results. At the same stage last season, Lyon had an eight point lead.
"Every time, it's said that the coaches are bad but not the players," Cris said. "Actually, the players are also to blame."
Bordeaux, meanwhile, is brimming with confidence after trouncing Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 on Sunday in a match that featured the goal of the season so far from playmaker Yoann Gourcuff. His latest moment of brilliance prompting further comparisons with Zinedine Zidane.
Marseille, which is four points behind Lyon in fourth place, is nicely poised for a title challenge and hosts struggling Le Havre on Saturday.
This week it signed two forwards to bolster its attack in the absence of the injured Mamadou Niang. Brandao joined from Shakhtar Donetsk and veteran former Arsenal and Lyon forward Sylvain Wiltord signed from Rennes.
However, turmoil is brewing behind the scenes at Marseille with the club's owner Robert-Louis Dreyfus demanding better results and a minimum top-two finish. He also publicly questioned whether president Pape Diouf and coach Eric Gerets made good signings last summer.
"They chose some players... I had proposed others. I respect their choices but there have to be results," Dreyfus told L'Equipe adding that there could be changes if a top-two finish and at least one trophy is not secured.
"We will see. We will have talks for sure if they (these goals) are not reached," Dreyfus said.
In Saturday's other games, it is: Toulouse vs. Nancy; Saint-Etienne vs. Le Mans; Lorient vs. Valenciennes; Nantes vs. Bordeaux, and Nice vs. Auxerre.
On Sunday, PSG hosts Sochaux, Rennes is at Lille, and Caen hosts Monaco.


Updated : 2021-06-13 23:22 GMT+08:00