Insipid Lyon prepare for fight with Saint Etienne

PARIS - Olympique Lyon's players travel to neighbours and arch-rivals Saint Etienne on Saturday with some stinging comments about their attitude from the club's sporting advisor Bernard Lacombe ringing in their ears.

A listless 0-0 draw against Bordeaux last weekend left Lyon in sixth place in Ligue 1, below St Etienne on goals scored, and Lacombe has demanded more fighting spirit in the 101st derby against Les Verts.

"At the end of a match, a Lyon player should not be able to play another match immediately after like it seems sometimes," he told local newspaper Le Progres.

"Some players don't look tired, they should be empty, completely worn out. Against Bordeaux, it was interesting in terms of intensity but the way we played was insipid."

Saint Etienne are attempting to do the double on Lyon after they won 1-0 away earlier in the season - a result that condemned Lyon to a place in the relegation zone at the time.

Since then the multiple champions staged a fantastic recovery to get back in the title race before stalling in their last few matches to fall seven points off the pace.

"We are much too nice," Lacombe added. "It's hot and cold. When we try to balance the positive and the negative, we don't really know. We had seven extraordinary years, now it is harder. If we are not aggressive enough against St Etienne, it is not even worth going," he added.

Lyon coach Claude Puel was more sanguine about his club's position although defeat against St Etienne could scupper their chances of regaining the title.

"The league could stay tight until the end, every point will be important. The month of February will be very important, Puel, whose side face Real Madrid at the end of the month in the Champions League, said.

Elsewhere, Lille goalkeeper Michael Landreau will play his 500th Ligue 1 match on Sunday when the leaders host seventh-placed Toulouse.

Champions Olympique Marseille, who are fourth, travel to mid-table Sochaux hoping to produce a better performance than last weekend's dull win over struggling Arles-Avignon.

Second-placed Paris Saint Germain host RC Lens on Saturday, hoping to put some pressure on Lille.