FC Bordeaux’s slim hopes of qualification from Europa League Group B rest on a visit to group toppers FC Sion on Thursday night, writes Adam Bailey.
After slumping to a 1-0 defeat against the Swiss outfit at the Stade de Bordeaux a fortnight ago, Willy Sagnol will have been hopeful of, and surely desperate for, some sort of redemption against two members of Ligue 1’s relegation zone. An unconvincing 1-0 win over 20th place Troyes saw the embers begin to flicker, but they were swiftly extinguished in a 2-0 defeat to 18th place Gazelec Ajaccio six days later.
Recognising that the shadow of a relegation battle now stalks the club, the Bordeaux hierarchy held emergency talks with their manager four days ago. According to France Bleu, Sagnol was supposed to take first team training on Sunday morning, but was instead summoned to the boardroom to explain the side’s recent form to President Jean Louis Tiraud.
Mr.Tiraud will expect a reaction on Thursday evening, but that reaction must come against a side that are yet to lose a Europa League game this term.
FC Sion sit at the top of Group B on 7 points and a win against Les Girondins would secure qualification. A 3-0 loss in their last league game against Lugano who dangle just four points above bottom place Zurich however, may install some hope in their visitors.
If Willy Sagnol is to save his job, an unlikely win against the Group B toppers in their own back yard would be a perfect start.
Bordeaux have no fresh injury worries, but could struggle in the absence of Wahbi Khazri. The midfielder, who has been Bordeaux’s principle creator this season, was sent off late into the reverse fixture two weeks ago.
According to Sud Ouest, Khazri was subjected to racial and homophobic abuse by FC Sion President Christian Christian Constantin as he left the pitch and an official UEFA report has been submitted regarding the incident.
FC Sion will be without striker Ilombe Mboyo as he continues to recover from a foot injury.
Goals will be high on the list of Willy Sagnol’s priorities if his team are to pull off a remarkable turnaround in Group B, but without Khazri, they will be difficult to come by. Les Girondins have managed only 14 goals in Ligue 1 and just one goal in the Europa League this term, with Khazri contributing to 60% of them.
Sagnol will therefore have to rely on midfielder Jaroslav Plašil who has netted two goals for his side this season. The 33-year-old’s total isn’t the most impressive, but only Khazri has scored more goals than him for the Ligue 1 outfit.
With 8 goals and five assists to his name in all competitions for FC Sion this season, Senegalese forward Moussa Konate will be the man posing the biggest threat to Bordeaux’s slender aspirations of qualification.
With the form they’re in, it’s difficult to see Bordeaux pulling off a small miracle away from home. This could be the final nail in Willy Sagnol’s coffin at the club
FC Sion 2 – 0 Bordeaux