Bordeaux trip another test for Gourcuff

PARIS - Yoann Gourcuff's nerves will be further tested when the France playmaker makes his return at the Chaban Delmas stadium for Olympique Lyon's visit to Girondins Bordeaux in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Gourcuff, who missed Les Bleus first two Euro 2012 qualifiers through suspension after picking up a red card in his last appearance at the World Cup, has been struggling to rediscover his touch and has been showing signs of jitters.

Last week, he terminated an interview with French channel TF1 after he was asked about his relationship with fellow French international Franck Ribery.

On the pitch, Gourcuff has yet to show he has what it takes to become Lyon's talisman, let alone the brilliant playmaker France have been looking for since Zinedine Zidane retired after the 2006 World Cup.

Since the start of the season, he has often looked off the pace, failing to show the fans his trademark delicate turns.

On Sunday (1900), Gourcuff will have to deal with the added pressure of playing in Bordeaux, a club he left during the close season after manager Laurent Blanc became the France coach.

"I don't think I'm going to enjoy a warm reception," Gourcuff said last week.

"I think the crowd won't be happy and I expect some jeers but that's football."

Lyon will need Gourcuff to show why they paid 22 million euros for the 24-year-old as they try to find their stride in Ligue 1, having only taken five points from their first five games.

Bordeaux, who sold Marouane Chamakh to Arsenal and Gourcuff to Lyon during the close season, have not done well either, sitting third from bottom on four points.

"Let's stop talking about Gourcuff and concentrate on ourselves," midfielder Fernando told reporters.

Olympique Marseille have also been struggling in the wake of a drama-filled close season, with Hatem Ben Arfa going on strike in a desperate attempt to join Newcastle United.

The case has been settled but the French champions slumped to a 1-0 defeat by Spartak Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday and they have made a stuttering start in Ligue 1.

Didier Deschamps's side, however, are expected to get it right when they travel to neighbours Arles-Avignon on Saturday, after the promoted club lost their five first games.

Surprise leaders Toulouse will be at Monaco on Saturday and second-placed Stade Rennes will visit Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

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