PARIS Jan 12 Girondins Bordeaux and Yoann
Gourcuff provided a massive boost on Sunday for all those tired
of Olympique Lyon and Karim Benzema.
Lyon, chasing an eighth consecutive Ligue 1 title, still top
the table and 21-year old France striker Benzema, with 10 league
goals to his name this season, remains a feared marksman.
But Bordeaux's 4-0 hammering of a hapless Paris St Germain
side and a superb performance by Gourcuff capped by a splendid
goal suggested, however, that Lyon's days at the top could be
Last season's runners-up, now second just one point behind
Lyon and with a better goal difference, looked very much like
champions on Sunday, setting the stage for what promises to be
an exciting second half of the campaign.
The 22-year-old Gourcuff stole the show, setting up his
side's first goal before scoring the third in style.
The gifted playmaker is already being compared to the great
Zinedine Zidane, who also cut his teeth at Bordeaux before
hitting the heights with Juventus, Real Madrid and France.
Gourcuff took a leaf out of the retired maestro's book with
a piece of magic on 71 minutes.
He collected the ball with his back to the goal just outside
the box and set himself up by rolling it back with the sole of
his boot. He then turned around and twisted his way through two
PSG defenders with inspired close control before hitting the
back of the net.
"Gourcuff is Zidane," read a headline in Monday's issue of
French sports daily L'Equipe, as to put a bit more pressure on a
player who still officially belongs to AC Milan.
Bordeaux have an option to buy him and must be thinking that
the reported 15 million euros ($20.10 million) the Italian side
are asking for is a bargain.
PSG, who had scored wins over Bordeaux, Lyon and Olympique
Marseille in the first half of the season to emerge as title
contenders, could do very little against Girondins on Sunday.
With not only Gourcuff but a string of other fine players
such as holding midfielder Alou Diarra and Argentine poacher
Fernando Cavenaghi, Bordeaux gave the Parisian club a football
lesson, thrilling their fans with fluent moves.
"We were competitive in every area of the game and scored
four goals, each by a different scorer, without conceding any,
which is very satisfying and shows that we can move the ball
forward without losing our balance at the back", Bordeaux coach
Laurent Blanc proudly told reporters.
Bordeaux, the most complete side in the league with a taste
for attacking football but also plenty of discipline and power,
have not lost a league match in three months and have won their
last four games with 13 goals scored.
By contrast, Lyon have looked ordinary lately, notably on
Saturday, when they were held to a 1-1 home draw by mid-table
Lorient. Never since winning the first of their seven titles in
2002 has the yardstick for French sides looked so vulnerable.
A man of few words since the days when, as a rock-solid
defender, he helped France lift the 1998 World Cup, Blanc says
Bordeaux have the right to dream of the title.
"Am I satisfied with being just one point behind Lyon?" he
asked reporters on Sunday.
"No. I'd rather be ahead of them."
(Additional reporting by Claude Canellas in Bordeaux;
editing by Miles Evans)