Benzema and Gourcuff go head-to-head

PARIS - Karim Benzema and Yoann Gourcuff, two of Ligue 1's most exciting players, will be in opposition when champions Olympique Lyon entertain last year's runners-up Girondins Bordeaux on Sunday.

Lyon striker Benzema was the league's top scorer with 20 goals last season and has maintained that form this campaign, topping the charts again with eight in 13 games.

New Bordeaux playmaker Gourcuff joined his international colleague in the spotlight after coming back to France following a two-year spell at AC Milan.

His passing and dribbling skills have helped Laurent Blanc's team move into third place, six points adrift of leaders Lyon.

The 22-year-old Gourcuff also made an instant impact for France when coach Raymond Domenech put him in the team for the first time for the World Cup qualifier against Serbia in September.

Gourcuff may have saved under-fire Domenech's job after his spectacular long-range drive then earned France a 2-2 draw in Romania.

Both players were rested in the fourth round of the French League Cup in midweek.


Lyon suffered their first home defeat for a year when they were knocked out 3-1 by second division Metz while Bordeaux qualified for the quarter-finals with a 4-2 win over second division Guingamp.

"This defeat has generated some doubt in our minds just a few days before a crucial game in the league," said Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas.

"Great teams never lose two successive games. We must react and prepare for Sunday."

Elsewhere, second-placed Olympique Marseille host Lorient on Saturday.

New coach Alain Perrin starts his reign at St Etienne when they visit Lille on Saturday.

St Etienne slid into the bottom three last weekend after a fifth successive defeat.