An attractive tie awaits Willy Sagnol’s Bordeaux side on Thursday evening as last season’s Ligue 1 6th place finishers host Khazakh minnows Kairat in the Europa League play-offs.
Bordeaux are yet to record a victory domestically this term. A 2-1 loss against Stade Reims dealt an immediate blow to their pursuit of European football, and a second consecutive defeat looked to be on the cards before Henri Saivet’s spectacular late equaliser against Saint-Etienne on Saturday.
Their form in the Europa League, however, has been promising. A 4-0 aggregate triumph over AEK Larnaca set up tomorrow’s clash against Kairat, but their Slovakian manager Vladimír Weiss will be quietly confident of an upset.
The two-time Kazakhstan Premier League champions surpassed expectations in the first qualifying round by seeing off former European champions Red Star Belgrade with a convincing 4-1 aggregate win. Alashkert and Aberdeen were their next victims.
Changes are likely for Bordeaux given their poor start to the 2015/2016 Ligue 1 campaign. Diego Rolan and Isaac Keise Thelin could provide potency in an attack that has failed to perform thus far.
Jerome Prior is expected to keep his place in goal as Cedric Carrasso continues to nurse an ankle injury.
Gerard Gohou should keep his place in Kairat’s forward line after scoring in Scotland.
The Frenchmen are in need of some creativity and attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri have been their main source of imagination so far this term. The 24-year-old boasts his side’s highest shot accuracy (74%) and has created six chances in the league so far. Bordeaux’s strikers will have to rely on his service on Thursday night.
Gerard Gohou has netted an impressive 18 goals in 23 games for his side as they approach the final stages of their 2015 campaign that began in March. The Ivorian secured his side’s qualification with a goal in Aberdeen two weeks ago and will be looking to continue his fine goalscoring form.
On paper, Bordeaux boast a stronger squad and superior European experience, but confidence could be a key element on Thursday night. Willy Sagnol’s side lack it, whilst Weiss’ men, equipped with a goalscorer in form, carry it in abundance.
Result: Bordeaux 1 – 1 Kairat