Adam Bailey previews Bordeaux’s trip to Russia as they look to build on their hard-fought point against Liverpool last time out.
A week of mixed fortunes has hurled Willy Sagnol’s Bordeaux side around the pit of Ligue 1 and back up into the realms of comfort like a drop tower amusement ride.
An impressive 2-2 draw against Liverpool in their opening Europa League Group B match inspired confidence, but the 1-1 disappointment at home to struggling Toulouse that followed was emblematic of Les Girondins’ underwhelming start to the domestic campaign. A crushing 6-1 defeat at the hands of Nice three days later was met by inspired words from Sagnol who issued an impassioned rallying cry. “I want to see men on the pitch,” he demanded ahead of Bordeaux’s next fixture against Lyon.
And that’s exactly what he saw as his side cruised to a 3-1 victory against Hubert Fournier’s title hopefuls. Twelfth place in the league is certainly not where Bordeaux would have liked to have been sitting at this point in the season, but the gloom of the relegation zone was a much more frightening, and likely, proposition just seven days ago.
The Frenchmen will be looking to record their first successive win of the campaign on Thursday night in their Europa League clash against Rubin Kazan. The Russians were beaten 2-1 by Group B leaders FC Sion in their opening game and slump in 12th place in the Russian Premier League having lost their last two league games.
The two sides will meet for the first time on Thursday evening and Rubin’s only previous experience of French opponents does not bode well for their chances of a positive result – Kazan lost 4-2 on aggregate to Lyon in the 2011/2012 Champions League play-offs. Accompany that result with Bordeaux’s comparatively glowing record against Russian clubs – five wins, one loss and no draws – and you find the odds stacked up against Valeriy Chaly’s men.
Bordeaux approach the game as favourites, but their inconsistency has been known to get the better of them this season.
Bordeaux welcomed back Jaroslav Plasil in the 6-1 loss against Nice and the Czech midfielder has made a superb start to his comeback with two goals in as many games. The 33-year-old is expected to retain his place alongside Wahbi Khazri and Nicolas Maurice-Beray in the centre of the park.
Cedric Carrasso (malleolar) and Gregory Sertic (cruciate ligament) remain unavailable.
Rubin will be without midfielder Vladimir Sobolev who continues to recover from an operation.
For Les Girondins, danger is provided by the same source week in, week out. That man is Wahbi Khazri who has scored four goals and registered four assists in seven league games this season. The Algerian has more assists to his name than any other Ligue 1 player and his eye for goal coupled with his excellent delivery from dead ball situations propelled his side to a surprise victory against Lyon last weekend.
Once linked with Manchester United and once scouted by European giants Real Madrid, Carlos Eduardo has been in fine form for Kazan this season. The Brazilian, signed from Hoffenheim for €20m in 2010, has created 11 chances for his side this term and has completed 63% of his attempted take-ons. Hoffenheim’s record sale will supply the creativity for Chaly’s team.
Bordeaux have an admirable record against Russian sides and their victory over Lyon has prepared them perfectly for this game, but a lengthy trip to the Kazan Arena where Rubin have lost only one of their last 11 Europa League games will test their resolve once again.
Rubin Kazan 1 – 1 Bordeaux