Archive for the ‘Lyon’ Category

Bocanegra, Rennes Grab A Point At Lyon

March 1, 2009

Facing a home side bent on revenge for a 3-0 loss earlier this season, Carlos Bocanegra and Rennes marched into Lyon’s Stade Gerland tonight and took a point from the league leaders.

Rennes came out with a good measure of confidence, trading scoring chances with Lyon from the beginning . In the 12th minute, Bocanegra appeared to have given Rennes an early lead when, displaying an NBA-quality vertical jump, he out-jumped the keeper to put away corner for an apparent goal. Unfortunately, it was called back for a foul in the area.

Star Lyon striker Karim Benzema started after all but was effectively marked out of most of the match by Rennes captain Petter Hansson with no small amount of shirt pulling by the big Swede.
Bocanegra and Hansson both directed the defense well with Bocanegra also serving the midfielders and forwards with some clever through balls. Bocanegra also did a good job of preventing Ederson from sending any effective crosses across the Rennes goal.

Coming back into the drizzle from the halftime break tied 0-0, both teams played tug-of-war until the 63rdh minute when Benzema finally beat Hansson but then couldn’t beat Rennes keeper Nicolas Douchez. Rennes countered with a nice over-the-top ball to striker Jimmy Briand who muffed a golden opportunity to give his team the lead. Lyon then pounced quickly, thanks to quick and excellent distribution from keeper Lloris which was touched on to Kader Keita who then slotted the ball left to a criminally unmarked Kim Källström who cranked it into the Rennes goal for a 1-0 lead.

Rennes answered yet again with Briand being sprung by a through ball from Fabian Lemoine, finding himself once again one-on-one with the keeper, only to muff the shot in the 68th minute. Benzema left the match in the 73rd minute after suffering a sneaky hip check from Rennes midfielder Moussa Sow.

Both teams continued to probe and attack with Rennes shifting to a 3-5-2 in the 75th minute and Bocanergra becoming more involved in supporting attacks forward. Rennes applied good pressure on a tiring Lyon team from the 80th to 88th minutes and it looked like they would go home empty handed and frustrated by Briand’s missed chances.

But Briand finally came through in injury time, when a Lemoine long ball was flicked forward to him by Hansson, which he collected and fired home for a 1-1 draw. The result placed Rennes in 6th place with a total of 43 points, four of them coming against Lyon this season.

Bocanegra, Rennes Head Into The Lyon’s Den

March 1, 2009

American defender Carlos Bocanegra and his Rennes teammates face perhaps their stiffest test of the year as they head into Stade Gerland tonight to take on league leaders Olympique Lyon.

Fresh off nearly toppling the mighty Barcelona on Wednesday night in the Champions League (a match which ended 1-1), Lyon coach Claude Puel is looking to carry the same attacking spirit into tonight’s match.

The real reason Bocanegra and his team will have their hands full is that this same red-hot Lyon is itching for revenge from a humiliating 3-0 loss at the hands of Rennes in the Stade del la Route-de-Lorient back on October 5th (their worst loss of the year). Lyon, a team accustomed to winning trophies every year, hates to lose – but to losing to those “upstart punks from Bretgane” really got their goat.

Lyon is expected to start essentially the same lineup as they used Wednesday against Barca with the possible exception of hometown hero and striker, Karim Benzema, who may be rested initially in favor of Frederic Piquionne. The six-foot, two-inch Piquionne is deceptively fast and always dangerous on set piece plays (not to mention he is even more dangerous when served by the sublime dead ball skills of Juninho).

Questions remains whether Lyon will be able to bring the same 90 minute intensity tonight against a better rested Rennes side. Can their boisterous home crowd help carry them through?

A road win could vault Rennes back to 5th place while a draw would bring then even with Lille in 6th place in Ligue 1. Lyon, sitting atop the league with a comfortable six point cushion over Toulouse, can always use the points but tonight, its all about pride.

Lyon has not lost at home so far this season while Rennes has only won three wins on the road (out of 12 played so far). Rennes has earned six draws on the road so stealing a point from a fatigued Lyon side could represent success for Guy Lacombe’s side, provided they can withstand the early barrage from the revenge-minded home team.

Bocanegra is expected, as usual, to start at left back for Stade Rennais, which is expected to play a 4-5-1 of striker Briand, midfielders Br.Cheyrou, Sow, Danze’, Mbia and Lemoine, a back line of Bocanegra, Aubey, Hansson, and Fanni, plus Douchez in goal.

More later after the match.

Onyewu: I Deal With Reality

August 23, 2008

Standard Liege defender Oguchi Onyewu, seeming to be completely disgusted with the transfer process, told US reporters in Guatemala that “I only want to live in reality, and the reality of the situation is that I play for Standard. I enjoy it and what happens, happens.”

Meanwhile, the buzz coming from cognoscenti back in the States links Onyewu to Serie A side Catania, which is still looking to replace top defender Juan Manuel Vargas after selling him to Fiorentina. In what appears to be a late house cleaning, they also just sold defender Andrea Sottil to Rimini with three more midfielders and defenders on the auction block. The Sicilian club had a pretty porous defense last season and boss Walter Zenga is looking to shore up the back line.

Another coach looking to anchor the back line is Cologne boss Christoph Daum, who at one time was stalking Gooch like a teenager in puppy love. Its not clear now if Daum is still interested, given the club’s transfer focus on bringing in another attacking player.

All that said, I still think Onyewu will either stay at Standard to win another championship or he’ll be playing somewhere in France where there has been sustained interest in him since 2007. Plus, its hard to see tiny Catania outbidding PSG or Lyon, two of the bigger teams which still seem to be in the hunt. PSG was also looking at Dynamo Kiev’s Senegalese defender Pape Diakhaté, who is also being pursued by Monaco and Rennes (where Carlos Bocanegra is in desperate need of a quality partner in central defense). If Diakhaté ends up at PSG, perhaps Rennes will opt for Gooch, provided there is enough time left to make a deal – the clock is ticking. Two Americans at Rennes? Who knows.

Also when asked in Guatemala, Heerenveen’s Michael Bradley seemed mystified by the entire transfer process, telling US reporters: “I have no real idea what is going on but my agent tells me something may happen next week.” Greg Seltzer seems to think its Everton, Celtic, or Middelsbrough (a club which always seems to be linked to an American player but never seems to close the deal). Again, my spidey sense seems to indicate he’ll head be heading to Germany (Bayer Leverkusen?) but probably not Hamburg which found its replacement for Van Der Vaart in Mladen Petric, just purchased from Borussia Dortmund. In about a week, we’ll know the answer for sure.

There have also been whispers here on the boot that a few Serie B teams have taken an interest in Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni but its not clear if any of them are in a position to acquire him now or wait until mid season, when he would be available on a free transfer. Back in July, Serie A side Cagliari had also taken a discreet interest in Mastroeni but given the club’s modest budget, they may also be waiting for midyear.

Elsewhere today, American Jozy Altidore replaced Giuseppe Rossi in the 67th minute of Villarreal’s preseason match against Italy’s Udinese. Altidore’s side lost 1-0.

NOTE: In case you are waiting for the fourth and final installment of The Evolution of American Soccer Players in Europe, I’m waiting for the smoke to clear on this transfer season before finishing it up.