Blanc hopes duo's European run hints at French revival

Lyons and Bordeaux's Champions League progress has led to talk of return to glory days

Laurent Blanc, the coach of Bordeaux, is cautious about proclaiming a revival of French fortunes, but one club from the nation that invented European competition is guaranteed a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time for six years. Yesterday's quarter-final draw pitted Bordeaux, the French champions, against Lyons, the country's most successful club over the last decade, with the winners to face Manchester United or Bayern Munich for a place in the last four.

France last had two clubs in the quarter-finals six years ago, when Monaco went on to lose to Jose Mourinho's Porto in the final. Lyons, the other French representatives that year, were also the last to reach the quarter-finals, in 2006.

Blanc has guided Bordeaux to the last eight for the first time for 22 years but says talk of a French revival is premature. "The French league is in a good state, but to confirm that we'll have to give it time and see how regularly French clubs make the quarter-finals in Europe," he said.

The fate of the French illustrates how the 1996 Bosman ruling shifted power towards Europe's bigger clubs. In the seven seasons from 1989-90 French clubs reached the European Cup semi-finals six times. Since then only Monaco have done so, in 1998 and 2004.

Bordeaux, the pre-eminent French club in the mid-1980s, won their first league for 10 years last summer, ending Lyons' run of seven titles. Blanc, coach since 2007, has transformed the club's fortunes, thanks in no small part to the form of Yoann Gourcuff, a talented playmaker, and the Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh, who is regularly linked with a move to Arsenal. Nevertheless, the Girondins' European success has coincided with a slump in their league form. At the winter break Bordeaux were 10 points clear but now lead the table only on goal difference.

Lyons, who are fifth but just two points behind the leaders, pulled off one of the results of the season with their win over Real Madrid last week. Given their recent European pedigree they will start as favourites, though Claude Puel, the coach, thinks Bordeaux have the advantage as they play the second leg at home.

Puel, who has not won a trophy since taking over at Lyons two years ago, has been forced to rebuild after the departure of stalwarts like Grégory Coupet, Juninho and Karim Benzema. He has spent heavily, £21m on the Argentinian striker Lisandro Lopez from Porto, and has continued with Lyons' policy of buying domestic talent. His signings include Hugo Lloris, the France goalkeeper, and the striker Bafétimbi Gomis, who joined for £13m from St Etienne.

The squad has taken time to blend, but Puel believes he is on the right path. "We're making progress. This group of players are writing their own history."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map