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Impressive early season performers at Lyon and Bordeaux

Friday 25th August 2017
Neymar began to repay his price tag with two goals against Toulouse but Lyon and Bordeaux's early season performers may also attract positive headlines this season.

The Brazilian's brace at the Par des Princes stole the weekend's Ligue 1 limelight even though one day earlier, at OL's Groupama Stadium, Les Gones and Girondins put on a show.

It had been thought Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso's departures would weaken Lyon's attack. Nine goals its first three games suggest those fears are unfounded.

When OL hosted RC Strasbourg to open the campaign, new signing Mariano Diaz drew attention. Nabil Fekir--fresh himself, to the captain's armband--claimed a brace during the 4-0 victory. Still, Mariano won First Goalscorer honours with a scintillating long-range effort. He then outraced Racing Club's defence to net his second.
At Rennes, Mariano was unlucky not to score with a firm header during the first half. He was more fortunate during the second, connecting on a similar effort to secure a 2-1 victory.

Signed during the summer, for approximately £8 million from Real Madrid, the 24-year-old rarely featured for Zinedine Zidane's first team at Estadio Bernabeu. He did score 27 goals for the reserve squad during the 2015-16 campaign.
Mariano came close to scoring in a third successive match when Bordeaux came to town. He was beaten to a far post header by teammate Kenny Tete, a recent defensive signing from Ajax. Tete has already been capped six times by the Netherlands. The 21-year-old's nearly £3 million transfer fee may prove a bargain.

Sergi Darder's dismissal soon after Tete's goal probably cost OL a third consecutive victory despite Bertrand Traore continuing his impressive transition from Chelsea by scoring later in the game. Instead, after Lyon were reduced to ten players, Bordeaux's Malcom demonstrated why he is becoming such an important player for his team.
Signed from Corinthians for approximately £5 million in January, 2016, Malcom scored the first Bordeaux goal via a deflected free-kick. Then he netted a 91st minute equaliser with a long range, left-footed effort that found the top corner. It was the second of two goals that earned Bordeaux an improbable point.

An ever-present last term, he netted seven goals. The 20-year-old's direct pace causes problems for opposition defences.

Resisting advances from wealthier clubs will challenge Bordeaux and Lyon should their promising early season performers continue to impress. Not that both teams won't hope for more of the same.

John Welsh
I am a freelance sports writer specialising in football covering Premier League, EFL and English non-leagues plus top leagues in France, Germany and Italy. I have written for Inside Futbol, Football Weekends plus football previews for Hong Kong Jockey Club, and I’m also the author of book First Touch, a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.

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