Football: Juninho's little toe gives struggling Sochaux big hope
Champions Lyon should have no worries in stretching their lead over Bordeaux when they host French league minnows Sochaux Saturday.PARIS, February 8, 2008 - Champions Lyon should have no worries in
stretching their lead over Bordeaux when they host French league minnows
With 15 games to play Lyon have a four-point lead on Laurent Blanc's side,
who have emerged as the likely challengers to a crown which Lyon have made
their own for six consecutive years.
However Bordeaux, like Lyon, have a similarly easy fixture in hosting
basement side Metz. Barring catastrophe, the side which former France
international Blanc has spectacularly revived this season are likely to keep
biting at Lyon's heels.
Metz brought in a new coach, Yvon Pouliquen, in January to save their
season but with only one win and a total of nine points from 23 games they are
virtually guaranteed second division football next season.
Sochaux can boast five times as many wins as Pouliquen's side, but they are
still second from bottom in the table on 23 points, three adrift of struggling
If there is any hope for Metz, it will be in the fact that Bordeaux's
number one keeper Ulrich Rame is doubtful following an ankle knock in training
Defender Marc Planus is also uncertain, while Blanc will be without injured
defender David Jemmali (calf) and midfielder Fernando (knee), although Blanc
will welcome back central defender Souleyame Diawara, who has returned from
the African Cup of Nations.
Similarly, Sochaux will also be buoyed by the fact that Lyon's dead ball
specialist Juninho is doubtful.
The Brazilian skipper fractured the little toe on his left foot during the
League Cup defeat to Le Mans in mid-January, and at training on Thursday
seemed pessimistic over his participation.
"I'm still feeling pain, and it's not just a niggle. It's not going to
clear up in time for Saturday," Juninho said.
"At training you can always fight through it. But the truth is that I can't
even walk properly when I put my boots on," added the Brazilian, who could
also be missing from the starting line-up for the Champions League tie against
"There's still another two weeks to go, but if I don't play any matches
before then it's unlikely I'll start against United because against a team
like that you can't afford to be less than 100 percent."
Nice, following a promising campaign, remain in fourth place nine points
adrift of Lyon ahead of the visit of Marseille on Sunday.
On what is effectively a French riviera derby, Nice will be keen to prove
that they are the on-form team of the south of France, this season at least.
After another shaky start to the campaign Marseille are just above the
mid-table position in ninth, although a possible consolation for Eric Gerets'
side is that arch-rivals Paris Saint Germain are below them.
PSG host Le Mans on Saturday.
Fixtures (all times GMT):
Paris-SG v Le Mans (1500)
Bordeaux v Metz
Lyon v Sochaux
Monaco v Lille
Nancy v Toulouse
Rennes v Auxerre
Strasbourg v St Etienne
Valenciennes v Lorient (all 1900)
Caen v Lens (1700)
Nice v Marseille (1955)