Bordeaux and Marseille hopeful of Lyon upset
PARIS, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Girondins Bordeaux and Olympique Marseille will lead the charge in the Ligue 1 season starting next weekend with the usual goal of upsetting Olympique Lyon and serious hopes they might succeed at last.
'The hunting season is open,' Marseille sports director Jose Anigo said ahead of Saturday's kickoff.
'Lyon have a good team but we're starting from scratch and Lyon might suffer for a change,' Anigo told French sports daily L'Equipe. 'You have to be honest and recognise everybody would love Lyon to stumble.'
Lyon won their seventh successive league title last season and also lifted the French Cup to secure their first domestic double, but they were not as dominant as in previous years.
For the first time since they claimed their first crown in 2002, Lyon had to wait until the season's final round of matches to wrap it up.
Bordeaux, who finished as runners-up four points back, have managed to keep their best players while signing France under-21 forward Yoan Gouffran from Caen and taking young playmaker Yoann Gourcuff on loan from AC Milan.
'We'll be competitive,' Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc told reporters. 'It will be hard for us to do better than last season but we'll try.'
Marseille, who recovered from a poor start to finish third last season under the guidance of Belgian coach Eric Gerets, have lost young playmaker Samir Nasri to Arsenal.
They should nevertheless look good after signing young France forward Hatem Ben Arfa from Lyon and Ivory Coast striker Bakary Kone from Nice.
'We absolutely want to win trophies this season,' Gerets told Reuters, aware that Marseille have not won anything since lifting the European Cup in 1993.
Other teams to watch might include Paris St Germain, who narrowly escaped relegation but reacted by signing two heavyweights in midfielder Claude Makelele from Chelsea and winger Ludovic Giuly from AS Roma.
The problem for Marseille, Bordeaux, PSG and the rest is that Lyon have no intention of releasing their grip.
Lyon, desperate to make an impact in Europe after never advancing past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, sacked coach Alain Perrin and replaced him with Claude Puel, admired for turning Lille from nobodies into a decent outfit.
While Perrin was just the coach, Puel was named general manager with an expanded role and the mission of lifting Lyon up to the next level.
'This is a strategic moment for the club,' Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas told reporters. 'We had the feeling we needed a change for a new challenge.'
With the exception of Ben Arfa and France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet, now at Atletico Madrid, Lyon managed to retain their best players while attracting newcomers such as Bosnian teenage midfielder Miralem Pjanic and Brazilian midfielder Ederson.
Joining the top flight will be Le Havre, the once great Nantes and Grenoble, whose only ambition is to stay up.