PREVIEW: WEEKEND FRENCH ACTION
Quentin Westberg will guard the goal for Evian, while Carlos Bocanegra anchors the St Etienne defense as the French Ligue 1 season opens up this weekend.
Stade Brestois 29 - Evian TG FC
Evian kick off their Ligue 1 campaign on Saturday with a visit to one of the relegation-dodgers from last season in Brest.
After playing a crucial role in maintaining Evian's first-place finish in Ligue 2 at the end of last season, American keeper Quentin Westberg will mind the net for the club's first appearance in the French top flight.
The Savoyards major acquisition this summer was French national team veteran Sidney Govou, who spent a stint at Panathinaikos last season after over a decade of service at Lyon.
Coming into Saturday's match, Evian coach Bernard Casoni still has lingering injury worries with midfielders Cédric Barbosa, Nicolas Farina, Guillaume Lacour, and keeper Bertrand Laquait all unavailable. Forward Yannick Sagbo is also suspended.
If a pre-season warm-up last Saturday is any indication, life in Ligue 1 will be an uphill climb. The Savoyards fell to a resolute St. Etienne side 3-0, with the first goal courtesy of Carlos Bocanegra.
The one piece of good news for Evian is Brest's injury list. Most of last season's defensive line will have to miss out Saturday, including regulars like Ahmed Kantari (Achilles heel), Omar Daf (anterior cruciate ligament), Moise Brou Apanga (knee), and Brahim Ferradj (ACL).
Girondins de Bordeaux - AS St. Etienne
The Stephanois will look to build upon their satisfactory tenth-place finish last season and hope to take advantage of a Bordeaux squad undergoing a lot of change on Sunday evening in Bordeaux.
Defender Carlos Bocanegra will be one recognizable face from last season in the starting eleven, with several departures and newcomers for coach Christophe Galtier to manage.
Last season's goal machines in Dimitri Payet and Emmanuelle Rivière have left, but Steed Malbranque will make his return to his native France after stints at Fulham, Tottenham, and Sunderland. Additional firepower may come from the likes of Jérémy Clément from Paris St.-Germain, and Florent Sinama-Pongolle, who is being loaned out from Sporting Lisbon.
On Bordeaux's side of the field, former Sochaux skipper Francis Gillot will be at the helm to reverse the effects of a disappointing season last year. Fortunately, no major injury worries are plaguing the squad coming into Sunday's match.