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Bordeaux boss hoping Newcastle sever their French connection
BORDEAUX head coach Francis Gillot is hoping Newcastle boss Alan Pardew severs his side's French connection ahead of this evening's Europa League group game at St James' Park.
Newcastle boast as many France internationals as Bordeaux, and with Pardew pledging to name a strong starting line-up for the Magpies' first home game in Group D, there is every chance of Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa being involved from the outset.
That is an alarming prospect for a Bordeaux side that thrashed Club Brugge 4-0 in their opening Europa League outing, with Gillot holding both Newcastle midfielders in the highest regard.
“What I am hoping is that neither of them play because they are both very good players.” said Gillot, who guided Bordeaux to fifth in Ligue One last season. “They decided to join Newcastle and I think Newcastle are a very big club.
“I think Newcastle are the best team in the group. They have a fantastic stadium and generate a lot of passion here. I hope my players can stand up to the challenge because it is going to be a fantastic occasion.”
While Newcastle might start as favourites tonight, they are taking on a Bordeaux side that have not experienced defeat in 17 matches.
Their last loss was a 1-0 reverse in Caen on April 8, and in attacking midfielder Yoan Gouffran they boast a player who has already scored five goals this season.
They also include David Bellion in their ranks, although the former Sunderland striker is unlikely to be involved this evening, and saw off Serbian side Crvena Zvezda to make the Europa League's group stage.
Their pedigree is far superior to that of Maritimo, who Newcastle faced in their opening group game, although Gillot admits his preparations have been hampered by a degree of uncertainty over how the Magpies will line up.
“Newcastle essentially have two teams,” he said. “They have a team that plays in the league and a team that plays in the League Cup and Europa League. It is very difficult to know what team they are going to name for this game.
“It is very difficult to explain to my players how they are going to play tactically, and if they end up playing the team that normally starts in the league then it is going to be a very tough game. But we have come here to win and not to just make up the numbers.”