Lyon still looking for first Ligue 1 win of year

February 8, 2007

PARIS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon will surprisingly be looking for their first league success of 2007 when they host Lorient at Gerland Stadium on Saturday.

The off-colour French champions conceded two sloppy defeats last week when they bowed 2-1 to Olympique Marseille in the third round of the French Cup before falling flat on their faces at struggling Troyes at the weekend.

Lyon, in a class of their own before the winter break, are now on three defeats and a draw in Ligue 1 this year that would leave them bottom of the table if the championship had started in January.

However, their flying start to the season gives them a safety margin and with 15 matches remaining they are still solid leaders, sitting on a 11-point cushion at the top of the table.

Chairman Jean-Michel Aulas personally intervened on the club's website this week to say there was no reason to get worried despite a string of poor results.

The club is financially in an upbeat mood after kicking off a stock market listing with the hope of raising up to €1,000 millions to finance a new stadium and training centre.

The shares are due to start trading on Friday.

'The winter break did us great harm. We are now on a losing track and we lack some of the confidence which helped us win in the first part of the season,' said Bernard Lacombe, the chairman's right hand man.

'But I'm not worried. The guys are capable of bouncing back because they are competitors and the only thing which matters to them is to win,' Lacombe said.

'We just need to score goals and it's what we're going to do on Saturday. The match will be sold out and all our fans will be there to back us just like they did when we had better times over the last few years,' he said.

Lyon should, however, be wary of Lorient who clinched three consecutive victories to move up to seventh.

The Brittany side are on an unbeaten run of five matches, their best string of results this season.

Second-placed Racing Lens, who stunned Valenciennes 3-1 away last weekend, are eager for another good performance when they host Sochaux, one of their rivals in the race for European berths.

The northern team have lost once on their home turf since the start of the championship when they were demolished 4-0 by Lyon in December.

Lille, keen to make amends for the 1-1 draw conceded to lowly Nantes at home last week, are facing a tricky test at Toulouse.

Olympique Marseille, fourth in the table, visit their bugbear Girondins Bordeaux whom they have not tamed away for 29 years.