One need only cast a mind back to November, when Lyon came to the Geoffroy-Guichard, played Saint-Etienne off the park, showed their hand and a shirt to the home fans in the most immaturely irritating way possible, as they left the Derby du Rhone with a 5-0 win and Oscar Garcia on the verge of an exit.
Since then Garcia has departed the Saint-Etienne hot seat, as the club struggle to shrug off their post-Christophe Galtier era, but under new manager Jean-Louis Gasset, things are considerably looking up. Of their last four league games, Les Verts have won 75% of them, the only blemish was a 2-2 draw against Marseille, which would count as a plus, moving from the tethers of relegation to the tethers of the top half, and as the second derby of the season approaches, it’s Lyon who are playing the role of strugglers.
It’s almost getting irritating to point out that Bruno Genesio’s side haven’t won since beating Paris Saint-Germain some four league matches ago, and have slipped from second place to fourth, looking up at the rest of the Champions League chasers.
They have won twice in Europe though, in the midst of that league run they have managed home and away wins over Villarreal in the Europa League (the latest of which came on Thursday), and at some point that might serve as a catalyst to spark their domestic form.
For now though, even with a chasm-like 16-point gap between two of the country’s most successful sides, it’s the side 16 points worse that have the momentum. A position they would have barely envisaged back in November.
Elsewhere, it’s the weekend of another giant derby, as Le Classique takes centre stage when Marseille visit PSG, hoping to perhaps open the door for a title race with a potential win. A Marseille victory might well give Monaco a chance in the title race, the defending champions will close the gap to nine points with a win at Toulouse, at least until the game at the Parc Des Princes.
Nantes will be wary of the reduced gap between them and sixth-placed Montpellier, which is currently a solitary point, Claudio Ranieri’s team host Amiens, who are still engaged in a battle against the drop. Montpellier themselves visit Strasbourg, seventh-placed Bordeaux host ninth-placed Nice, and Guingamp seek to put another nail in the coffin of bottom club Metz.
Ligue 1 round 27 Fixtures
Lyon v Saint-Etienne
Toulouse v Monaco
PSG v Marseille
Strasbourg v Montpellier
Nantes v Amiens
Lille v Angers
Guingamp v Metz
Bordeaux v Nice
Dijon v Caen
Rennes v Troyes