By Eddie Chikamhi
Warriors forward Tino Kadewere is relishing his biggest game since arriving in Europe five years ago when his Olympique Lyon side clash with log leaders and title favourite Paris Saint-Germain in a crunch French Ligue 1 football tie tomorrow night.
The match kicks-off at 10pm (Zimbabwean time).
Kadewere, who has had an explosive start in the French top-flight, is one of the three forwards expected to start against the star-studded Paris-based side powered by some of the superstars like Brazilian forward Neymar, France’s Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria of Argentina.
But the Zimbabwean forward, who missed the cup game between the two sides earlier in the year, looks set to get his chance following the red card suspension of Ryan Cherki and the uncertainties surrounding the fitness of his side’s key forward Memphis Depay.
Lyon coach Rudi Garcia has struck a winning formula in attack, with a 4-3-3 formation featuring a front three of Depay, through the middle, Kadewere, on the right and Karl Toko-Ekambi, on the left.
The trio have scored 17 goals between them, with Toko-Ekambi netting seven, all in Lyon’s last seven games. The big loser has been Moussa Dembele, who has started just one of the last eight matches and has scored only one goal this season.
Kadewere, who appears to have won the coach’s heart ahead of Dembele, has four goals to his name and one assist this season.
The Zimbabwean has been part of the success story in the league campaign thus far after punching above his weight to claim a place in the team in his debut season in the French top-flight.
Lyon have now gone 10 games without tasting defeat. But they sit third on the log standings on 26 points while PSG lead the race with 28 points.
With 32 goals in 13 matches, PSG have the best attack in the league, but coming immediately behind them are Lyon who have scored 24 goals since the start of the season.
After lacking a level of success in terms of their finishing during the first month of league play, Lyon have turned things around completely, rising to the top of the standings in doing so.
They have found the net 17 times over the last six matches, averaging nearly three goals per game. Also in great form, the Parisian attack only needed their last five matches to reach this impressive total.
Lyon coach, Garcia, has been working hard to prepare his players for the big battle following their 3-1 win over Metz in their last game while PSG warmed-up for this game with a 5-0 thrashing of Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
“We did what was necessary to continue our run of form. This allows us to approach this big match in optimal conditions. We are a third of the way through the league season,” he told the Lyon media.
“It’s ever-closer at the top of the table. To go first would only be temporary. It has often been said that PSG are not helped by the level of Ligue 1 in performing in the Champions League.
“We can perhaps help them by giving them a good match and by winning on Sunday… We are good but they are not bad either. They showed as much on Wednesday by finishing in first place in their group in the Champions League.
“We’’re coming into this with a lot of humility and ambition… It’s our Champions League. It is not taboo to mention the title. But you have to be humble. It would be lacking in humility and even crazy to say that we are playing for the title.”
The Lyon media has also prepared some exciting statistics about the sides’ attacking trio, where Kadewere is even ranking higher than some of the PSG stars like Neymar.
Two trios ready to battle
Toko Ekambi (7 goals + 3 assists) / Memphis (6 goals + 4 assists) / Kadewere (4 goals + 1 assist) VS Mbappe (10 goals + 3 assists) / Neymar (3 goals + 3 assists) / Kean (5 goals). The Herald