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Lyon seek Evian tonic after Gourcuff injury blow
Published : 24 Aug 2012 04:46:54Rss feed
Although bereft of injured playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, Lyon will be gunning to continue their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season with a third consecutive victory at Evian on Friday.
Wins over Rennes and Troyes have taken Lyon to the top of the table on goal difference, but Gourcuff sustained a knee ligament injury in the 4-1 success against Troyes that could keep the France midfielder out for up to three months.
It has been the only black mark in an encouraging start to the season for OL, who finished a disappointing fourth last term and have brought in only one new player -- Serbian defender Milan Bisevac, from Paris Saint-Germain -- in the transfer window.
Coach Remi Garde's disappointment at Gourcuff's injury has been partially offset by the news that Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren is finally ready to return after nearly four months on the sidelines.
Lovren injured his foot at the end of April and was forced to withdraw from Croatia's squad at Euro 2012, but he could return to first-team action in Friday's match in Annecy.
"It was difficult but I've won against my injury," he said.
"I'm now ready to play. I've been training with the squad for a week and it's gone well. We'll see if I can play against Evian."
Lyon are currently level on six points with Marseille, Bastia and Bordeaux at the top of the table, but victory over Evian would give them a three-point lead at the summit ahead of the rest of the weekend's matches.
Like Lyon, Marseille have put a disappointing 2011-12 season and a quiet summer on the transfer front to one side to make an encouraging start to the new campaign.
After winning 1-0 at promoted Reims in their first match, the 2010 champions beat Sochaux 2-0 last weekend and on Sunday face a Montpellier side whose title defence has begun in unconvincing fashion.
Following a 1-1 draw with Toulouse, Montpellier fell 2-1 at Lorient on Saturday and coach Rene Girard must contend with a number of selection problems.
Banned for Montpellier's first two games, Chilean midfielder Marco Estrada has since sustained a thigh injury, while defensive midfielder Jamel Saihi is suspended.
However, summer signing Anthony Mounier could make his first league appearance for the club after missing the opening two matches due to a thigh problem.
Title contenders Lille and Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are both smarting after unscheduled early setbacks.
Lille lost 1-0 at FC Copenhagen in the first leg of their vital Champions League play-off tie on Tuesday and the 2011 champions must rouse themselves in time for Saturday's trip to Nice.
PSG are already four points off the pace in Ligue 1 after behind held by Lorient and Ajaccio in their first two matches, and will be desperate to record their first win of the season at home to Bordeaux on Sunday night.
"After two draws, we want to win," midfielder Blaise Matuidi told the club's website, www.psg.fr.
"We're going to face a Bordeaux team who will be difficult to play against. They're in good form at the moment (eight wins in their last eight Ligue 1 games)."
PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti could hand a debut to Brazilian centre-back Thiago Silva, who is yet to feature following his 42-million-euro ($52.3 million) transfer from AC Milan.
Evian v Lyon
Saturday (1800GMT unless otherwise stated):
Nice v Lille (1500GMT), Nancy v Toulouse, Reims v Sochaux, Rennes v Bastia, Troyes v Lorient, Valenciennes v Ajaccio
Sunday (1500GMT unless otherwise stated):
Montpellier v Marseille, Saint-Etienne v Brest, Paris Saint-Germain v Bordeaux (1900GMT)
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