The ‘Olympico’: a French classic with a Champions League taste

by Etienne Michon

The game between two of Ligue 1′s finest teams has been nicknamed ‘Olympico’, in reference to the ‘Clasico’, nickname given to the PSG-OM games. Rivalry between both teams has grown in the past years, especially during Lyon’s winning streak which saw the team win 7 Ligue 1 titles in a row, while OM remained trophyless. Things changed last year as OM grabbed both the League and the League Cup.

But the game will also have a Champions League taste, as both teams are two months away from the biggest challenge of their season so far: OL will take on Real Madrid (a team they eliminated last season) whileMarseille will face Manchester United. On tomorrow night, both teams will want to stretch their muscles and prove that they stand a chance against two European powerhouses. Moreover, as we are only two games away from the very middle of the Ligue 1 season, the ‘Olympiques’ will want to show that they have the quality to aim for the Ligue 1 title, especially since PSG’s current pace is forcing them to step things up a little.

To spice things up even more, everyone reminds of the epic 5-5 draw that occurred last year at Stade Gerland when OM visited OL. During one of the craziest games in the league history, OM went from leading 4-2 to being down 5-4, before getting a miraculous injury-time equalizer on an own goal from Jérémy Toulalan. Considering injuries and suspensions on both sides, we are quite likely to see goals at Stade Vélodrome on tomorrow night.

As far as OM is concerned, right-back César Azpilicueta torn his ACL and is out for the rest of the season. Good news is, Marseille just signed French international Rod Fanni (from Rennes) for a 4M€ transfer fee. Deschamps confirmed the player would make his OM debut against Lyon, but did not say if it would be as a right-back or as a center-back. OM’s usual central defense pairing Diawara-M’bia is out of the game due to suspensions. To replace them, Deschamps will pick Gabriel Heinze and Rod Fanni or homegrown Leyti N’Diaye. Edouard Cissé, who was supposed to start in central midfield, is also injured. OM had a couple of worrying Ligue 1 performances in the last few weeks, but a 1-0 victory at home over Chelsea and a courageous 1-1 draw at Auxerre (with 10 players for more than 50 minutes) showed that Deschamps’ players are back in the mix.

Olympique de Marseille projected XI: Mandanda-Kaboré,Fanni,Heinze,Taiwo-N’Diaye,Lucho Gonzalez, Cheyrou-Valbuena,Rémy,Brandao

But Lyon has a few big players out too. Cris is injured and ruled out of the game, just like Jérémy Toulalan. The good news is, Anthony Réveillère and Pape Diakhaté, who suffered from light injuries, should be able to start. Yoann Gourcuff should also return to action after suffering a knee injury following a reckless tackle by Schalke 04′s Christoph Metzelder.  Lyon is currently unbeaten in its last 10 Ligue 1 games, while the man to watch will be Lisandro Lopez, who scored 7 goals in his last 7 league games.

Projected Olympique Lyonnais XI :Lloris-Cissokho,Lovren,Diakhaté,Réveillère-Makoun,Källström,Gourcuff-Bastos,Lisandro,Gomis

Author Info

Etienne Michon

Etienne Michon

Biz. student from Lyon, France. I'm a French and US soccer fan, and an Olympique Lyonnais season ticket holder. Apart from Ligue 1, I follow the EPL, la Liga and the MLS. I'm also a Houston Dynamo, Atlético Madrid and Liverpool supporter. You can also listen to my Ligue 1 analyses on France 24's sports podcast. Follow me on Twitter @E_ten

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