Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Games that mean something

JJ here,

Does the name Sidney Govou strike fear into you? Sounds like a French nobleman to me, a displaced toff from New Caledonia perhaps. Well dear old Sidney – one of Lyon’s most potent attackers, rather than a monocle-wearing backgammon player as his name suggests – has been attempting to stoke up the fear of failure in the hearts of Rangers’ players.

He has heaped all the pressure on them; saying Lyon have nothing to lose in tonight’s game, unlike their ‘anti-football’ pedalling opponents. Amongst other things he said that he thinks the Scottish side “have more pressure than us”, adding, “playing away from home brings extra pressure but we don't really have anything to lose”.

Barry Ferguson must be munching nervously on his nails and scratching at his tattoos with paranoia and dread. Or not. I suppose this is all part of the (apologies for using the phrase in advance) mind games that go with big Champions League ties.

Though, as Bolo Zenden’s discussion yesterday of the kind of internal dissent Liverpool’s rotation policy can cause proved, sometimes the mind games are as effective as… well Bolo Zenden. The better team usually wins no matter what is said beforehand. Unlike Zenden though, I have a feeling that gobby Govou will end up on the winning side tonight.

True Lyon lost at the weekend. True Rangers didn’t even have to play. True Rangers spanked the French side earlier in the group. But with Benzema, Juninho and Govou all rested for seventy minutes at the weekend before being brought on, their main stars will feel just as fresh as Rangers moderate squad.

Looking through the Rangers line up – Alan Hutton, from what I’ve seen, is a solid player though how much an attacking right back can affect this game is up to question. Lee McCulloch is another solid performer while Ferguson, as always for Rangers, will be very busy and a good link to the forward line… though then again it may only be a forward line of one man, be it Daniel Cousin or Kris Boyd. Neither will strike much fear into Lyon’s championship-laden side.

French football took a hammering last night but Marseilles are a far weaker side than Lyon, though admittedly Zenden’s side did beat Lyon earlier this year when the phenomenal Benzema was rested. Of course, Barcelona only got a draw in Scotland too, which proves that Rangers can keep up the blanket defence tactic all night long if needs be. But then, that was against a Barcelona side in turmoil who expected to roll over the Ibrox side; not a team on a mission who, up until a 1-0 defeat at Caen this weekend, have looked superb ever since their defeat to Rangers on matchday two of Group E.

Rangers have a chance, though as Mark once pointed out in a previous controversial blog relating to Scottish football, sometimes you just want to see the best footballing sides go through and I’ll go for Lyon to run out 1-2 winners.

The only other game that matters tonight is Fenerbache against CSKA Moscow (yes I know Arsenal might finish second if they fail to win but they won’t, even with Gilberto in midfield), and I’ll go for the Turks this time out, thankfully damning the dreadful PSV into Uefa Cup obscurity.


We’re recording the podcast tonight where I shall make my return after last week when Mark got along without me with disgusting ease. We shall be championing the legend that is Dennis Bergkamp; discussing the cheeky scousers who broke into Steven Gerrard’s house (let’s hope they left the 'Steven Gerrard Room' alone); giving our thoughts on the Grand Slam Extravaganza Bonanza Sunday in this week’s results and fixtures, and much more.

Til tomorrow

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Mark said...

nailed on score draw i think.

govou was a promising talent 6 years ago, ben arfa looked crap in last match, benzema could be good (haven't seen him yet) and juninho can hit a free kick, but seems to do little else

lyon are bottlers anyway, as the past CL's have proven

JJ said...

Yeah but they'll choke later on in the competition methinks.

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