- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

PARIS (AP) - Bruno Genesio doesn’t have any time to waste.

Lyon sacked Hubert Fournier on Christmas eve following a chaotic first half of the season, and replaced him with Genesio, his former assistant who will be in charge of the team’s first game in its new stadium on Saturday against Troyes.

After investing more than 400 million euros ($474 million) in the new arena, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas hoped the Stade des Lumieres, with a seating capacity of 58,500, would host Champions League games as soon as this season. But Lyon bowed out of the competition in the group stage, and needs to quickly turn things around in the French league to secure a European spot.

Lyon sits in ninth place, six points behind second-place Monaco.

“Our sporting situation deteriorated for a number of reasons, to do with the values that had been tarnished and forgotten these past few weeks,” Genesio said. “I want to restore the kind of spirit that once made this club a very hard side to beat. We’re on a short-term mission, a commando mission.”

Despite the hostility of many fans - some of them launched a petition in protest at his appointment - Genesio got off to a strong start with Lyon, celebrating his first game in charge with a 7-0 thrashing of fifth-division Limoges in the French Cup last weekend.

Montpellier’s new tandem of coaches also enjoyed a successful start, with a 1-0 win over fifth-tier Epernay in the French Cup. The southern club, which hosts Bordeaux on Saturday, changed coach during the festive period and appointed former player Pascal Baills following Rolland Courbis’ resignation. Baills took charge of the team until the end of the season alongside Bruno Martini, a former Montpellier and France goalkeeper.

“In this urgent case, we have found a suitable solution comprised of people from within the club,” Montpellier delegate president Laurent Nicollin said.

Runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain also won its first game of 2016 last weekend in the Cup, and hosts Bastia on Friday with a comfortable 19-point lead in the standings.

Here are other things to know ahead of this weekend’s matches.


MENDY AND BATSHUAYI SIGN NEW DEALS: Defender Benjamin Mendy and Belgium striker Michy Bastshuayi have signed new contracts with Marseille.

Batshuayi was reportedly on Newcastle’s radar but Marseille could not afford selling him after an unimpressive first half of the season. Marseille is 10th ahead of Sunday’s reception of Guingamp.

Batshuayi, who has 32 goals since joining Marseille from Standard Liege in 2014, is linked to the French club until 2020.

PERRIN OUT FOR ONE MONTH: Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin is expected to miss the most important game of the season for the club’s fans after hurting his hamstring in the French Cup. According to Saint-Etienne doctors, the experienced center back will likely be sidelined for one month, ruling him out of the Rhone derby against bitter rival Lyon on Jan. 17.

GOURCUFF WINS ANOTHER PLASTER BALL: Once hailed as a future France great and a possible Golden Ball winner, Yoan Gourcuff had to adjust his goals downwards as his career derailed because of injuries.

The former France international and AC Milan player has won the Plaster Ball for the second consecutive year, a trophy awarded by a French website to the player the most often injured during the year.

Gourcuff, who has not played since March, joined Rennes this season in a bid to re-ignite his career. A foot injury has prevented him from featuring with the Brittany club, but he has been ruled fit for Saturday’s match against Lorient.

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