Derby Du Rhone Between Saint-Etienne and Lyon Highlight of Ligue 1 Weekend

Christopher Almeras@@redriverhockeyCorrespondent IIDecember 6, 2012

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

It's that favorite time of year again.

When everywhere you look the colors green, red and even blue create the backdrop for the magic of the season. The excitement and anticipation grows on every face as the big event draws closer.

It's time for the first edition of the Derby du Rhone.

When Olympique Lyonnais travels down the Rhone to Saint-Etienne this Sunday, France will be tuning in. While the Rhone-Alpes clash rarely gets the attention it deserves outside of France, within her borders this matchup is king.

As I wrote here on the derby's 60th anniversary last year, this rivalry goes far beyond the pitch. It defines an entire region, and by transcending sport it captivates all who come within its grasp.

For the first time in what seems like ages, the game will have a large impact at the top of the Ligue 1 table. Current leaders Lyon bring a five-point cushion over Saint-Etienne, who sit in third place.

A win for Lyon will open an eight-point cushion on their bitter rivals, while a loss will see only a two-point gap, a close race at the top made even closer.

While a matchup this early will not make or break the title race, it could provide the boost either team needs towards achieving that goal.

On both sides of the pitch, exciting young talent will combine with accomplished veteran experience for 90 minutes of battle.

The key for each squad will be the containment of Ligue 1's two biggest threats on goal not named Ibrahimovic. Saint-Etienne's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis (a former member of Les Verts) will try and carry their respective squads to victory.

Recent history has been on the side of Lyon, but ASSE has taken down PSG twice in the last month and are riding a high wave of confidence.

This has the makings of the most intense game of the season. All of France will be tuning in.

Will you?