Le Havre vs Lyon

Stade Oceane sets the stage for a high-stakes Ligue 1 encounter between Le Havre and Lyon.

Le Havre might have ended 2023 on a sorrowful note with a 1-0 Ligue 1 loss at Reims, but they enjoyed a perfect start to the new calendar year, overcoming second-tier Caen in last weekend’s Coupe de France ‘Normand Derby.’ Determined to avoid a swift return to Ligue 2, ‘Le Club Doyen’ can draw confidence from a five-point lead on 16th-placed Toulouse at the start of this round. However, manager Luka Elsner must reinvigorate his faltering squad after overseeing just one win in the last six Ligue 1 outings (D2, L3). A disastrous record of four scoring blanks during that six-game sequence testifies to the gravity of the situation. On a more positive note, after a four-game scoring drought in home league action, Le Havre thumped second-placed Nice 3-1 in their last top-flight outing at Stade Oceane.

On the other hand, Lyon’s opening game of 2024 gave devastated traveling fans something to cheer about as a 3-0 Coupe de France win against lower-league Pontarlier confirmed their resurgence under new manager Pierre Sage. After back-to-back defeats at the start of his tenure at the Groupama Stadium, Sage has inspired ‘Les Gones’ to three consecutive league victories, steering them two points away from the dreaded drop zone. But it’s hardly a reason to celebrate, considering Lyon’s household stature in French football. Avoiding relegation is the bare minimum supporters expect of their side, whose away league record in 2023/24 (W2, D1, L5) summarizes their woeful campaign. Indeed, Lyon had conceded precisely three goals on two straight Ligue 1 travels before a 1-0 win at Monaco last time out.

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