Evening French football fans. Thanks for joining Sports Mole
as round two of Ligue 1 begins at the Stade Auguste Bonal, with Sochaux
hosting very early pace-setters Lyon.
Lyon were emphatic winners in their opening-day win over Nice last weekend, with Alexander Lacazette and Yoann Gourcuff
starting in a 4-0 home win. The challenge now for Remi Garde
's young side is to produce that form on a consistent basis, starting with a tricky trip to Sochaux tonight.
Despite losing Lisandro Lopez and exiling Bafetimbi Gomis during the summer there remains a quiet optimism that Garde can help his crop of starlets improve this season. Clement Grenier
in particular looks a fine prospect in central midfield, attracting interest from Arsenal among other during the close season.
Garde has been quick to insist that Gomis has a future at Lyon if he fails to engineer a move abroad. The powerful forward looked all set to join Newcastle United just a fortnight ago, but talks have since broken down to leave the French international in limbo. The coach said: "I have no personal problem with Bafe. I have always had confidence in him. Now, I'm just waiting to see what happens. We can't leave things the way they are at present."
Back to tonight's match and a look at some key pieces of team news. Lyon playmaker Gourcuff was rated doubtful just yesterday after fluid was discovered on his knee following last week's win over Nice. The midfielder travelled to Sochaux and was booked in for a late fitness test. Word on whether he makes the starting XI is due at any moment.
BREAKING TEAM NEWS! The starting lineups have been released and Gourcuff is included for Lyon in a massive boost for the visitors, with Lacazette once again leading the line. A full look at both sides will follow in just a few moments.
SOCHAUX: Pouplin, Corchia, Carlao, Kante, Peybernes, Faussurier, Boudebouz, Contout, Eickmayer, Privat, Bakambu
LYON: A.lopes, M.Lopes, Bisevac, Fofana, Bedimo, Gonalons, Malbranque, Grenier, Benzia, Gourcuff, Lacazette
Garde has made a couple of changes to a winning side from last weekend, with French international Maxime Gonalons fit and restored to the starting XI in central midfield. Veteran Steed Malbranque
also earns a recall, with Gael Danic forced to settle for a place on the bench.
Sochaux duo Sebastien Roudet and Edouard Butin have both left on the bench tonight, after suffering muscle injuries at Evian last weekend. Kalilou Traore is a also out for the hosts, who continue with Cedric Bakambu
in a lone front role.
You could hardly blame Garde for having one eye on Lyon's Champions League qualifier against Real Sociedad on Tuesday, but in fairness that is quite possibly the strongest starting XI at his disposal. Les Lionceaux will be looking to take advantage for only a second home win against Lyon in their last 12 attempts.
PREDICTION! With Lyon in confident mood they deserve the tag of favourites heading into tonight's match, but I just fancy Sochaux to be aggressive and take a point from their opening home game of the campaign. I'll go for Lacazette to continue his fine start to the season by netting in a 1-1 draw.
Both sides are out at a well under capacity Stade Auguste Bonal, with pre-match formalities just about finished. Sochaux will get the match underway in a bright yellow and blue strip, shooting from right to left.
YELLOW CARD! Lyon quickly establish a sustained spell of pressure as Gourcuff roams into the final third. Just two minutes in Carlao picks up a booking he can hardly complain about, after tearing into a challenge on Malbranque with studs showing. Lyon have a free-kick around 25 yards from goal, but Grenier's ambitious drive flies well over the crossbar.
PENALTY TO SOCHAUX! A first break forward for Sochaux wins an early spot kick. Bakambu showed terrific strength to cut inside the penalty area, before being brought down inside the area by Bisevac. What a chance for the hosts!
GOAL! Sochaux 1-0 Lyon (Boudebouz)
YELLOW CARD! Inside five minutes Sochaux lead as Boudebouz calmly slots a composed penalty beyond Lopez for an early breakthrough. When play resumes Corchia flies into a silly challenge on Bedimo, picking up the home side's second caution in the opening exchanges. I predicted aggression but some of the challenges on show from Hely's side so far have bordered on reckless.
Superb vision from Boudebouz wins the game's first corner kick for Sochaux, but his delivery from the set piece is a disappointment and fails to beat the first defender. That just about sums up the unpredictable nature of the 23-year-old, who has got off to a fine start this evening.
An enforced break in play at the moment to allow Grenier to receive treatment on the far side, with eye drops applied for the young midfielder after a fall to the floor. Sochaux are pressing high up the pitch early on, with this match looking likely to stay open and attacking at both ends.
Lyon threaten down the right wing through Lacazette, who evades two challenges to drive inside and send a through ball towards Gourcuff. The midfielder's late run looks positive for the visitors, but an important covering challenge from Corchia allows the home side to clear and regroup.
SAVE! Corchia is once again in the thick of it against the side he nearly signed for just last month, stopping Bedimo's powerful run towards the touchline at the expense of a corner kick. Sochaux manage to clear the following cross with minimum fuss, but are soon on the backfoot once again as Grenier's curling strike is palmed away by Pouplin.
Sochaux break down the right and win a pair of corner kicks taken by Boudebouz, with Lyon just about able to clear their lines at the second attempt. The visitors look slightly uneasy when defending set pieces, which is another encouraging sign for Sochaux. Another feisty challenge between Gonalons and Privat soon follows in central midfield, with studs high from both players.
Carlao needs to be careful after tearing into a tackle on Lacazette while already on a booking. Defensive partner Kante then shows him how it's done by shielding the forward away from danger effectively inside the penalty area, before making a fine block tackle.
MISS! Somehow Lacazette has failed to turn home a rebound from four yards. The forward reacted quickest after Bedimo's scuffed drive could only be parried back towards danger, but the forward was always off balance as he skewed wide from close range. The best chance of the match by some distance for the visitors.
Gourcuff twists and turns to avoid two challenges out wide, eventually winning a corner kick as his low cross is blocked behind. His corner sits up invitingly for Gonalons, but the midfielder's header wide can be forgiven from a tight angle. Pressure mounting now for Garde's side thanks to sustained possession.
Carlao is treading on very thin ice after catching Benzia with his studs in a lunge, gifting Lyon a free kick around 30 yards from goal. Grenier steps up to take the set piece and smashes at goal, but his drive stays central and is punched away by Pouplin.
SHOT! Roy Contout
has just produced a slalom solo run George Weah would be proud of, beating three players in a forward run easily covering 50 yards. The midfielder carried his run just inside the penalty before smashing towards the near post, with his effort read and stopped by Lopez. Close to a brilliant individual effort there from Contout.
GOAL! Sochaux 1-1 Lyon (Benzia)
Lyon catch the visitors cold to level thanks to a clinical finish from Benzia. The 18-year-old peeled off his marker to meet Grenier's pass inside, finding space to pick his spot inside the penalty area. With the goalkeeper quickly rushing towards him Benzia stayed calm, firing into the top corner for his first goal of the campaign.
YELLOW CARD! Clever play from Faussurier draws a foul from Lacazette out wide in the final third, with the forward getting Lyon's first booking of the night for a high tackle. The visitors are quick to clear and break at the other end, with Gourcuff's cross into the penalty area smashed away by Peybernes.
GOAL! Sochaux 1-2 Lyon (Lacazette)
A fluid, sweeping Lyon counter has helped Garde's side turn this match around before the interval. Grenier, Gourcuff and Benzia were all involved in a move which created space for Lacazette just outside the penalty area. The youngster decided to shoot quickly and caught Pouplin off-guard, finding the bottom corner with venow to put Lyon ahead.
HALF-TIME Sochaux 1-2 Lyon
A pulsating first period in Eastern France draws to a close with Lyon showing some swagger in possession. The visitors have survived a shaky start to lead at the break, cancelling out Boudebouz's early strike thanks to goals from attacking livewires Benzia and Lacazette.
Sochaux can feel hard by to fall behind at half-time, paying a heavy price for allowing their concentration to slip after pressing with intensity early on. Hely will need to refocus his charges at the interval, with possession difficult to find in the last 10 minutes of a thoroughly entertaining first period.
In attack for the hosts lone striker Bakambu has been starved of service since his early impact, showing pace and power to win a penalty kick inside five minutes. Cortout and Corhcia have been impressive performers for Sochaux, but at times towards the end of that half Lyon controlled possession in midfield with alarming ease.
At times during that first 45 minutes we got a glimpse at the attacking potential Lyon have in the final third. Benzia, Lacazette, Gourcuff and Grenier can be ruthless when they click in attack, which was on show for both goals. Lyon are a club which pride themselves on producing a conveyor belt of talent and may just give a few gems the platform to become stars this season.
Back underway at the Stade Auguste Bonal, with Grenier quick to foul Carlao inside his own half. Sochaux smash the ball into the final third but beyond Privat, who is a willing runner but cannot chase down a speculative drive towards the corner flag.
GOAL! Sochaux 1-3 Lyon (Gourcuff)
More ruthless, effective counter-attacking football as Lyon extend their advantage early in the second half. It was Malbranque who started the move, winning the ball from Kante before passing inside to Lacazette. Two passes later and Gourcuff is free inside the penalty area, calmly curling into the far corner for his second goal of the season. Stunning football from Garde's new-look side.
SUBSTITUTION: Sochaux have reacted to conceding a third goal by making a swift change in central midfield, with Eickmayer replaced by Doubai. Coach Hely now has a difficult decision to make, shut up shop or chase the game and risk a real hiding in his side's first home game of the season.
Bakambu and Boudebouz combine in the final third as Sochaux attempt to respond, but Contout's late tun towards the penalty area is tracked all the way by Miguel Lopes.
Bedimo once again drives Lyon forward by charging towards the touchline out wide, with Lopes following his example in the next passage of play to win a free kick near the corner flag. Grenier's lofted cross looks dangerous at it flashes towards the near post, but Carlao is on hand to head clear with authority.
SUBSTITUTION: Sochaux must their first shot on target of the second half, with Bakaumbu's scuffed drive just dragging under his feet before trickling harmlessly towards Lopes. Following that effort the hosts make their second change in a positive change, with Butin taking over from Privat in attack.
Peybernes is alive to the danger as Grenier finds Malbranque with a quickly-taken free kick out wide. The former Fulham veteran has looked surprisingly spritely in central midfield, helping the visitors control possession from deep.
CHANCE! A hopeful long ball from Contout causes havoc in the Lyon penalty area, with Lopes coming out and failing to claim under pressure from Bakambu. The ball deflects towards Butan, who fires towards goal. His effort is probably going wide but Bisevac takes no chances, clearing behind for a corner kick.
SUBSTITUTION: Lyon make their first change of the match, with Bahlouli replacing Benzia in an advanced position. Just before that change Sochaux created space for Boudebouz at the far post, but his tame effort from close range was a real waste, allowing Lopes to claim comfortably.
A worrying moment for both sides here as Butin and Gonalons both go down after a heavy challenge in central midfield. Butin has definitely come off worse, with his ankle appearing to twist in the ground as his knee gave way. The stretcher is on and without question the forward's night is over, after only being on the field for around 10 minutes.
SUBSTITUTION: With Butin taken off in agony the visitors are forced into a final change of the night, forcing Sebastien Roudet on in more advanced position. The energetic Contout has been pushed further forward to compensate, with time running out for the hosts to respond as they win a corner kick from Lopes at the far post.
Lyon have taken the sting out of any potential home revival with a sustained spell of possession, with Gourcuff controlling possession. Garde decides to make a second change with Tuesday's Champions League qualifier in mind, swapping Grenier for holding midfielder Ferri.
A last-ditch recovery from Faussurier prevents Malbranque tapping home a fourth goal for the visitors, with the veteran just beaten for pace after racing to meet Gourcuff's clever flick inside. You can see from their slick play in the final third tonight why Lyon have scored seven goals in their opening two games of the campaign.
Doubai looks to have a free header at the back post in a rare attacking moment for Sochaux, but has his effort powers towards goal the offside flag goes up on the far side. When the whistle goes Lyon make their third and final change, with Gael Danic getting a late chance to impress in midfield.
Contout remains a willing runner for Sochaux going into the final few minutes, bursting down the left wing to win a corner kick. The hosts pile numbers forward for the corner but are quickly chasing back to shut down Danic's powerful strike at goal from 30 yards.
Lyon are doing a professional job of running down the clock as we head towards stoppage time, with the referee quite surprisingly adding four additional minutes. Bahlouli has looked bright since coming on and decides to try his luck from range, cutting inside to flash wide from range.
YELLOW CARD! Boudebouz manages to work an angle to shoot deep into stoppage time, driving low and hard but failing to beat Lopes, who reads the midfielder's intentions to save comfortably with his feet. That will probably be Sochaux's last chance to reduce the deficit, as Contout is booked in the dying moments for a late lunge on Behlouli.
FULL-TIME Sochaux 1-3 Lyon
Well in the end Lyon's quality in the final third shined through to maintain their impressive start to the season, coming back from an early deficit to claim a relatively comfortable victory on the road. Garde's side have scored seven goals in their first two games and will almost certainly finish this weekend top of Ligue 1.
Garde's side are definitely one to watch on this evidence, with every chance of securing Champions League football if they can overcome Real Sociedad in a two-legged qualifier, which starts on Tuesday night.
That just about does it for Sports Mole first offering from a packed weekend of European football. Thanks for your time and be sure to stay in touch for comprehensive coverage from across the continent all weekend. Goodnight!