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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 26, 2010

French Ligue 1: Gourcuff to take on father's team

New signing Yoann Gourcuff could be set for an emotional Lyon debut on Saturday when Lorient - the team coached by his father Christian - visit the Stade Gerland.

The 24-year-old France midfielder signed a five-year contract with Les Gones on Wednesday after a fee of 22 million euros had been agreed with Bordeaux.

"I spent two exceptional seasons at Bordeaux. I developed at the club. I was very happy to work with (former Bordeaux coach) Laurent Blanc and (Blanc's assistant) Jean-Louis Gasset," he said. "I left a good squad. It was not easy to say goodbye yesterday, but that's football. I have great motivation for coming to Lyon.

"I want to work, grow and win titles. I come here to continue to grow. This is a new project, a real challenge. This is a continuation of what I did.

"I do not have to bounce back after a difficult end of season. I have some friends at OL. I do not worry about my adaptation."

Gourcuff's settling-in process will be helped by the presence of Les Bleus team-mates Jeremy Toulalan and Hugo Lloris, and there will be another familiar face in attendance on Saturday.

"It will be very emotional," the 24-year-old said on the prospect of playing against his father's team. "I will ignore before and during the game that he is my dad."

Lyon suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat at high-flying Caen in their second match before getting back on track with their first Ligue 1 win of the season - 1-0 at home to another newly-promoted team, Brest, last weekend.

The two top-flight newcomers go head to head on Saturday at the Stade Michel d'Ornano.

Arles, the other team to win promotion from Ligue 2, have not picked up a point in their first three games and will look to make it fourth time lucky when they host third-placed Rennes.

Toulouse, the only side with a 100% record after three matches, will aim to continue their perfect start by picking up three more points at Nancy.

Also on Saturday, St Etienne take on Lens and fourth-placed Valenciennes tackle fellow unbeaten side Montpellier.

While all eyes may be on Gourcuff on Saturday, the big match on Sunday sees the last two seasons' champions - Bordeaux and Marseille - do battle at the Stade Chaban Delmas.

Les Girondins midfielder Ludovic Sane is hoping his side can build on last Sunday's impressive 2-1 win at Paris St Germain.

"There was a little pressure after starting the championship with two consecutive defeats," he told the club's official website. "The second defeat, to Toulouse (2-1 at home on August 15), was pretty disastrous. We are better in our heads. We know we must give everything, especially to our fans.

"Our fans came to Paris to encourage us. They were behind us the whole game. That kept us motivated to get a positive result for them. This weekend, we will try to show our appreciation by winning this match."

Auxerre, who visit Monaco on Sunday, will be looking to come down to earth after defying the odds to reach the Champions League group stage last night at the expense of Zenit St Petersburg.

"It's mad. This was not meant to be our destiny," AJA captain Benoit Pedretti said after his side beat Zenit 2-0 at home to triumph 2-1 on aggregate. "In terms of our budget, ambitions, signings, people were far from thinking we'd be able to compete.

"But there we are in the Champions League and the seven million euros the club will receive will do a lot of good. The transfer window is open for another week and it's time to make the effort, because another player would do us good."

Lille and Paris St Germain are in Europa League action on Thursday night - the former at home to FC Vaslui and the latter in Israel against Maccabi Tel Aviv - and return to domestic matters on Sunday with a home clash with Nice and a trip to Sochaux respectively.

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