Probing Toon’s Europa League group stage opponents: Part two – Bordeaux
Posted on September 13th, 2012 | 31 Comments |
Team: F.C. des Girondins de Bordeaux.
League: French Ligue 1.
Position last season: 5th.
Stadium: Stade Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux.
Last major trophy: Ligue 1, Coupe de la Ligue, Trophée des champions – 2009.
Fixture dates: Thurs, 4th Oct (H), Thurs, 6th Dec (A).
A silver haired Supremo in his early fifties, his team came fifth in the League last season. However, after a major clearout of players from his team and a need for replacements, he found himself ultimately frustrated in the hunt for new players in the last transfer window, with his club at an important stage in it’s development.
Who else could I be referring to other than Francis Gillot, the 52 year old Silver Supremo of our forthcoming Europa League Group Stage opponents, Girondins de Bordeaux? Whilst they may not be quite what they were in their last heyday under Laurent Blanc (2007-10) yet, they should still provide by far the stiffest test in our battle to get through the first Europa League group stage.
Les Girondins have a history as a sporting club going back as far as 1881, though it wasn’t until 1910 that the club started to embrace football. Even then, they abandoned it again a year later, eventually coming back to football in 1919 and playing their first first official match in 1920. In that game, they comprehensively routed a Section Burdigalienne side 12–0!
Bordeaux have had a number of illustrious players in their history, including World Cup winners such as Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry, European Championship winners such as Jean Tigana and Sylvain Wiltord, along with talents such as the great ex Portuguese International player, Pauleta and many others. Almost certainly though, their greatest old boy was another French World Cup winner who was regarded along with the likes of Denmark’s Michael Laudrup and Brazil’s Ronaldo as being one of the finest players of the 1990s. I am of course referring to Zenadine Zidane. He joined the club in 1992 and stayed for four years until his transfer to Juventus in 1996. In his time with Les Girondins he reached the UEFA Cup final in 1996, where Bordeaux eventually fell at the final hurdle to the mighty Bayern Munich 5-1 on aggregate in a two legged final.
In the present day, our very own Gabriel Obertan was an one time Bordeaux player. Joining the club as a youth player in 2005, he made the first team squad the year after, he was with Les Girondins until his move to Manchester United in 2009.
French League history.
|Bordeaux league positions last five years|
Despite their tentative entry into the world of football, Les Girondins have become one of the most well supported and illustrious teams in French football. The club has won six Ligue 1 titles, which makes them the fourth most successful club in France in terms of League Championship wins. They have also won the French Cup three times, and have the distinction of appearing in more finals of the “Coupe de la Ligue,” a contest between the French League and Cup winners much like the English Charity Shield. They have appeared in six of the 16 finals contested, winning three of them.
At the time of writing this, they are 4th in Ligue 1 table after four games so far. Of those games they won the first two and drew the next two with a goal difference of +2.
As we are looking at the Europa League, I will look at Bordeaux’s history in the UEFA Cup and Europa League first. Les Girondins have competed in no fewer than 17 previous UEFA Cups (to Newcastle United’s 7). They have never won it however, their previous best being the abovementioned final of 1996. Moving on to this year’s Europa League competition, Bordeaux entered the competition at the same stage as Newcastle United. Whilst we scraped through against Atromitos (partly thanks to a blind referee), they narrowly beat former European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade 3-2 on aggregate, settled by a Bordeaux penalty in the dying moments of the second match. This was despite having Maurice-Belay sent off after 64 minutes of the game.
Their last European adventure was their Champions League appearence in 2010 where the reached the Quarter Final. This being their first time in the Europa League. Their last appearence in the UEFA Cup was in the previous year when they were dropped into the last 32 stage from the Champions League, where they were beaten 4-3 on aggregate by Galatasaray.
Les Girondins have also competed in seven editions of the more illustrious European Cup / Champions League (Newcastle United have competed in three), as well as two campaigns in the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup (Newcastle United one) which was absorbed into the UEFA Cup in 1999. Their previous best in the European Cup was a Semi Final appearence against eventual winners, Juventus, another two legged affair which Juventus won 3-2 on aggregate. Those football historians amongst you will recognise this as the most tragic and controversial year in the competition’s history due to the subsequent events which took place at the final, contested by Juventus and holders, Liverpool FC at the highly unsafe Heysel Stadium in Brussels, a decrepit old pile which literally fell apart during the final itself, leading to the deaths of 39 Juventus and Liverpool supporters.
As mentioned above, Bordeaux also reached the Champions League Quarter Finals as recently as 2009/10 after winning a French treble the previous season. Finally, in their two Cup Winners Cup campaigns, their best was reaching the semi final in 1986/7, losing a place in the final to Lokomotive Leipzig on penalties.
Style of play, Potential dangermen etc…
I won’t pretend to be a great expert on either the current Bordeaux side, or their Silver Supremo, Francis Gillot. He has been managing Les Girondins for slightly over a year after an impressive final season at Sochaux, where he was a rare thing in France, a regular devotee of the 4-4-2 formation in a land where the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1 is king. Gillot took over from Bordeaux legend Jean Tigana, who left the club in somewhat acrimonious circumstances between himself and some of the Bordeaux fans after they verbally attacked his daughter. Somewhat ironically, it was after a 4-0 drubbing by Gillot’s Sochaux.
As you can see from the illustrations here and above depicting his starting lineups / formations this season so far, the most predictable thing about Gillot seems to be his unpredictbilty. Preferring a “horses for courses” approach, he used a 4-4-2 for their first opponents of the Ligue 1 season, Evian. In his second against Stade Rennais he switched to a 4-3-3, against Paris Saint-Germain it was 3-5-2, them back to a 4-3-3. Last season, as well as the formations mentioned above, he also played with 4-2-3-1, 3-1-4-2, 3-3-3-1, 5-3-2 and 5-4-1 formations. Where Alan Pardew is sometimes criticised for his sometime reluctance to deviate from his solid 90s high energy 4-4-2 style until it’s too late, with Gillot it seems to be the opposite, in other words he is something of a “tinkerman.” If Alan Pardew manages to successfully predict what kind of team Gillot puts out against him, he’s probably had the gadgie bugged before the game!
Now as I wrote, I’m hardly the greatest expert but from my research and watching everything I could of the current side (not a huge amount I’ll admit but I did manage to catch the odd full game for the purposes of this piece), It seems that although Gillot was a defender as a player, as a manager he generally seems to prefer a more attacking game and is a very interesting strategist. He also seems pragmatic and willing to dig in when necessary however. Last season against Stade Brest, he even used a 5-4-1 formation. Though I didn’t see that game, that certainly sounds like “parking the bus” to me! Generally though, from what I’ve seen his team generally seem to move the ball around well in midfield, frequently using their wingers well to create opportunities. Attacking midfielder and Polish International, Ludovic Obraniak, seems to be very important to the team as a link man between the midfield and the front and seems to be a very good player who is a key protagonist in Bordeaux’s attack alongside the wingers on the flanks. Obraniak has also got himself on the scoresheet this season, scoring two goals in 7 appearences with three assists. Another dangerman could well be striker / winger Yoan Gouffran, who has scored 3 goals in 5 appearences so far this season along with three assists too. One thing they don’t seem to have though is someone who is a prolific goalscorer a regular long term basis.
Of course, every French team (including Newcastle United), seems to have at least one Senegalese player. Bordeaux have no less than four in their first team if you include three French born players of Senegalese descent. One of these is a name some of you might remember, David Bellion the ex Manchester United, and now Bordeaux fringe player who was also a Mackem loanee at one stage. Although they have the obligatory Senagalese strker (and winger), Henri Saivet, their top Senagalese player seems to be their Senegalese International defender, Ludovic Sané. Overall though, Left Back Benoît Trémoulinas and goalkeeper Cédric Carrasso are probably the biggest stars in Bordeaux’s defensive firmament. Carrasso stood for regular French International goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in one game of the recent European Championships. Other top players in the side include Brazilian fullback Mariano, who is as fast as a rat up a drainpipe, and voted the best right back of the 2010 Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A by “Placar” magazine before he signed for Les Girondins. Finally, there is also the much capped (75) Czech International midfielder, Jaroslav Plašil, and their Cheick Tiote, Landry N’Guémo from Cameroon, who is a keen Falconer in his spare time apparently.
Before I wrap up this section, here are two alternative viewpoints. The first, from the Guardian’s Ben Lyttleton looks at Gillot’s shaky start last season and eventual redemption:
“By Week 14 Bordeaux were in the relegation zone, and pundit and former player Christophe Dugarry had threatened to stand for president in a direct challenge to the long-standing Jean-Louis Triaud. Ligue 1 is so tight in the lower half of the table (seven points currently separate tenth place from bottom) that wins over Caen and Nancy pushed them into mid-table before the winter break.
“Since then, Gillot has transformed Bordeaux into France’s in-form team. With four wins and a draw from five games, only title-chasing Montpellier, whom Bordeaux face on Saturday, have as good a record. Not only that, but the nature of Bordeaux’s performances have caught the eye, as have the opposition they have beaten. They took all nine available points against Toulouse (2-0), Lille (5-4) and Lyon (1-0), teams above them in the table that are chasing European qualification. Bordeaux are now in the hunt for a European place as well; they’re three points behind Marseille in fourth and only six behind Lille in third.
“How has Gillot done it? Firstly, by switching to a three-man defence with wing-backs Benoit Tremoulinas and Mariano, the later a January signing from Fluminense. The first appearance of 3-5-2 came in the 2-1 win over Valenciennes, the first game of the new year. Though the defence wobbled in the thriller against Lille, it has also kept three clean sheets. “We are starting to understand the new system much better now,” said one of the three centre-backs, Marc Planus. “We’re working hard, putting in a lot of effort, and it’s paying off. Our performance against Lyon last week was our best of the season.”
The second, from “Jonathan F” on Football Radar starts on the interesting tactical variations I mentioned above, then looks forward to how Gillot’s Girondins may fare this season:
“Bordeaux’s mid-season formational switch to a 3-5-2 / 5-4-1 worked wonders, making them one of the most intriguing sides in the division to watch from a tactical perspective. However Gillot has again deployed a 4-4-2 in some pre-season games up to now, so it will be interesting to see how they approach the new season tactically. The lack of a prolific striker could prove a hindrance, so much will be expected of Yoann Gouffran and Cheick Diabate, while Brazilian right back Mariano could prosper in his first full season at the club. One imagines that they will be tough to beat, but without any new signings Bordeaux may lack the X factor needed to really push for the Champions’ League place their supporters so crave.”
Sorry to end this section with a slightly scary statistic, but Bordeaux haven’t lost in their last nine European home games (seven wins and two draws). Their last loss was a 3-1 defeat to Luciano Spalletti’s excellent AS Roma side of the time in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 1 October 2008. They are also on a six-game continental winning streak at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Bordeaux in action this season.
Highlights of Bordeaux’s first four Ligue 1 games
Evian T.G. 2 – 3 Girondons de Bordeaux.
Girondins de Bordeaux 1 – 0 Stade Rennais.
Paris Saint Germain 0 – 0 Girondins de Bordeaux.
Girondins de Bordeaux 1 – 1 O.G.C.Nice.
Highlights of Bordeaux’s Europa League qualifiers with Red Star Belgrade
First leg: Red Star Belgrade 0 – 0 Girondins de Bordeaux.
Second leg: Girondins de Bordeaux 3 – 2 Girondins de Bordeaux.
Where opponents like Maritimo may be compared with a good Championship team, or Brugge with a top Championship, or a bottom end Premiership club, Bordeaux are a top side who would survive and prosper in any league, including the Premiership. In those Blanc days I mentioned earlier, they were a French treble winners and a genuine force to be reckoned in the Champions League. In the 2009/10 edition of the competition, they beat the likes of Bayern Munich (twice) and Juventus (a win and a draw) on their way to reaching the quarter finals, which is better than we’ve ever done. They reached the group stages the year before too. Sadly for them, Blanc’s calling to manage the French national side put an end to all that. Even now, facing them could be like a tough match against someone like Fulham, and we all know what they did to us last season!
So, to say that we shouldn’t take them lightly would be an understatement, and Newcastle United would have to field a full strength side and give the games the same attention they would to any tough Premiership fixture. If we don’t, there’s a distinct chance we would find ourselves going through to face tougher competition in the next round after finishing second in the group stage mini-league, or worse.