Preview: Aussies defiant ahead of French clash

Australia's football coach Holger Osieck and team captain Lucas Neill were in defiant mood this week ahead of their friendly clash with France in Paris on Friday evening. Despite being thrashed by Brazil last month, the Socceroos have already qualified for next year's World Cup.

Preview: Aussies defiant ahead of French clash
Lucas Neill (L) captain of the "Socceroos", the Australian football team, will face off against French captain Hugo Lloris (R) in a friendly in Paris on Friday night. Photo: Franck Fife/Bruno Fahy/AFP

Furious Australia manager Holger Osieck blasted his detractors  ahead of the Socceroos friendly clash with France at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Friday.

German Osieck has had a successful three-year stint in charge of Australia, guiding them to the World Cup finals just two years after reaching the Asian Cup final and beating 2-1 Germany in Moenchengladbach in a friendly.

Yet last month's 6-0 thrashing at the hands of World Cup hosts Brazil in Brasilia has seen the pressure mount on the 65-year-old in the Australian press.

Osieck hit out at his critics, telling them their expectations were unreasonable.

"I haven't heard anything, I'm not aware of any discussion (concerning his future) so I can't comment," he said.

"We are in the phase of preparing (for the World Cup) and I really picked the best teams in the world to prepare against. Do you think you can go to Brazil and beat them on their own soil by a big margin?

"Tomorrow (Friday) we play another top team, do you expect to hammer them 5-0? Some people are out of order," he fumed.

Captain Lucas Neill, who currently plays for Omiya Ardija in Japan, having previously spent 15 years in England, backed up his manager and said he cannot understand the criticism being directed at the former Canada coach.

"There's always pressure on players and coaches, we get judged on results," he said.

"(We've had) two very big results, one the Asian Cup final and now qualifying for the World Cup. That's two big achievements for the team and we're now looking forward.

"Unfortunately the result versus Brazil has everyone talking, but we're all together and very much behind the manager. We're confident of going together to the biggest tournament you can play in Brazil next year."

While the press in Australia were alarmed at the capitulation in Brazil, Osieck says people shouldn't be too surprised as the players were under-prepared.

"Looking at the Brazil game, it was an early stage of the season and a big number of our players had not been in their season. They're spread all over the world, they were in pre-season and some even in the off-season, so we couldn't find our rhythm.

"Now it's four weeks later, our physical condition has increased and that is the basis for an improved technical and tactical game."

But while some in the Australian media claim a defeat could see Osieck sacked, the manager insists he's not worried about the result.

"First of all we have to follow our programme direction. Even if we lose, it's part of the game. It can happen at any time," he said.

"We're not here to have that thinking, what we consider most important is that we'll have a better performance (than against Brazil), grow together as a team and get back to the strength that was our characteristic."

This will be the fourth meeting between Les Bleus and the Socceroos, with honours even at one 1-0 victory apiece and a 1-1 draw the last time they met, 12 years ago in a friendly in Melbourne.

France have themselves been struggling of late to score goals, although they did end a record run of almost nine hours without finding the net by winning 4-2 in Belarus last month.

That left them needing just a home win over Finland on Tuesday to ensure they qualify for the World Cup qualifying European zone play-offs.

France coach Didier Deschamps dropped star striker Karim Benzema for the win in Gomel and replaced him with in-form Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud.

However, he has refused to speculate which player will get the nod at the Parc on Friday, although Benzema's recent problems, failing to find the net for France since June last year and being jeered by Real Madrid fans on the club front, can hardly help his cause.

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Shock as PSG finally lose a game in Ligue 1

PSG's hopes of going the whole season unbeaten were dashed on Sunday when Lyon handed them a 2-1 defeat. But the French Champions still have an unassailable lead at the top of Ligue 1.

Shock as PSG finally lose a game in Ligue 1
Heads bowed as PSG finally lose. Photo: AFP

Lyon stunned Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Sunday to end the defending champions' hopes of becoming the first French team to
avoid defeat for a whole league season.

Young forward Maxwell Cornet stroked Bruno Genesio's men into a surprise early lead and Lyon deservedly made it two through Sergi Darder's wonderfully-taken goal on the stroke of half-time.

Lucas Moura pulled one back for the runaway league leaders, but Lyon held on for a famous victory that moves them into the top three.

For PSG this was a first league loss since a 3-2 defeat at Bordeaux in March 2015, although they remain 23 points clear of Monaco at the top of the table.

Manager Laurent Blanc admitted that his side were off the pace and did not deserve to take anything from the game.

“We were too average, myself included,” he told Canal+. “Lyon were in a better state of mind. Were we not at our best? I don't know, we must regroup.”

“We expected a difficult game, but not as hard. I took off a player at half-time (Benjamin Stambouli), I could have made more changes,” he admitted.

Lyon manager Genesio wants his team's display to help them kick on for the rest of the campaign.

“The game counts for three points, but of course beating PSG makes it more satisfying,” he said.

“What pleased me? The way we implented the plan, with the will to press them high. Certainly, we were up against one of the best teams in Europe, but we need to repeat this performance until the end of the season.”

PSG were looking to extend their record unbeaten league streak to 37 matches, but Lyon started the stronger at Parc OL and they forged ahead in the 13th minute.

Alexandre Lacazette picked out 19-year-old Cornet, who displayed good footwork to cut inside Gregory van der Wiel, before curling confidently into the far corner to grab his third Ligue 1 goal.

The visitors are not used to being behind and their frustration boiled over when Thiago Motta appeared to strike Jordan Ferri in the face, with the Italian fortunate to escape with just a yellow card.

On the day that Silva spoke of suffering a bout of depression in the aftermath of Brazil's World Cup thrashing at the hands of Germany two years ago, he was embarrassed by Darder in first half injury-time.

Despite Rafael's cross being slightly behind Darder, the Spanish midfielder flicked the ball over the head of centre-back Silva with his first touch, and coolly steered home past Kevin Trapp with his second.

Lucas goal not enough

With the unbeaten run close to coming to an end Blanc responded by sending on Javier Pastore for Benjamin Stambouli at the interval.

The substitute was instrumental in creating space in the Lyon penalty area as the away side pulled one back less than six minutes into the second period.

Pastore was crowded out by a group of home defenders, but the ball broke kindly for Brazilian Lucas, who bent his shot just inside the far post.

Lyon went straight up the other end and could have restored their two-goal cushion, only for Ferri to side-foot wide.

It was by far the busiest outing for Trapp since his move to Paris last summer and the German made an excellent point-blank save with his legs to keep out Rachid Ghezzal.

But last season's runners-up closed out a fourth win in five games with ease to move into the third and final Champions League place and become the first team to beat PSG domestically in almost a year.

Monaco were held to a goalless draw by in-form Nantes as Caen reignited their unlikely Champions League push with a 2-1 win at Saint-Etienne.

Monaco are eight points clear in second but the six teams directly below are separated by just two points in the race for third place.

Meanwhile, Marseille's match away to Gazelec Ajaccio was postponed due to the inclement weather in Corsica.