Your favorite Ligue 1 wrap-up is back ! We’re already 11 games into the 2010-2011 Ligue 1 season, and the rankings still feature a couple of surprises… Etienne Michon sums up all the latest action for you.
Brest: the western sensation
A few weeks ago, they were just a former Ligue 2 side enjoying a rather good start in their first Ligue 1 season in almost 20 years. Today, with a little help from the weather (the Marseille-Rennes game had to be postponed because of heavy rains) but also with talent and courage, the small team leads the league after 11 games. On Saturday night, they enjoyed a deserved 2-0 victory over a Saint-Etienne side that is gradually losing both speed and ground. Brest’s performance was made possible by a solid defensive showing, a feature that has been their signature this season. Goalkeeper Steeve Elana hasn’t given a goal up in almost 800 minutes, which had not been seen in Ligue 1 since 1996… Stade Brestois’ goals were scored by Czech midfielder Mario Licka, and offensive midfielder Romain Poyet, a player who spent most of his career in Ligue 2 but scored a wonderful goal against St Etienne.
Lyon: bring out the young guns
Claude Puel’s reputation is partly due to his ability to help young, promising players exploit their potential. During his 2 first season at OL, he didn’t really have the chance to bring many academy players to the A team; but it seems like things are changing this season. On Saturday night against Sochaux, a few key Lyon players, including left back Cissokho and star striker Lisandro Lopez, were missing. Puel chose to start two academy players in midfield, including Maxime Gonalons (who played quite many games in his rookie year last season as a defensive midfielder) and Clément Grenier, a young 19-year-old midfielder who earned his first two starts this season in just 4 days (after starting in the 1-2 defeat at Gerland against PSG in a League Cup game). Grenier, just like some other Lyon players (Tafer – currently loaned out to Toulouse – Lacazette, Kolodziejczak, Faure, Reale) won the U-19 European Championship last summer, and is part of a ‘new wave’ of talented French players. On Saturday, he showed his capacity to deliver precise, quick passes, and showed an impressive work rate for such a young player. He partnered with Gourcuff in midfield for 90mn while Pjanic stayed on the bench (the Bosnian wasn’t able to start due to a little injury). OL struggled most of the game but managed to score first thanks to Bastos on a counter-attack following a stellar save by Lloris. Bastos was forced to leave the field before halftime because of a light injury: Puel chose Alexandre Lacazette to replace him. During the second half, Ideye Brown equalized, but 3 minutes later, Lacazette scored his first Ligue 1 goal in the 69th minute to help Lyon climb up to the 8th place.
Paris and Lille get a point
The Montpellier-Paris SG game was the only game to be held in Ligue 1 in the southern part of France this weekend, as Marseille-Rennes and Monaco-Bordeaux had to be postponed (the latter will be played on Tuesday night). Following its League Cup victory against Lyon, Paris was looking for points after a surprising defeat at home against Auxerre last week. Kombouaré’s men struck first with Ludovic Giuly, his second goal in just 4 days, but Montpellier equalized thanks to Estrada just before halftime. Lille, following two consecutive defeats against Lyon and Marseille, got its first point in 3 games in a ‘Le Nord’ derby against Valenciennes. The two goals of the game were scored in the last 10 minutes: the first one by Lille, when a shot by Sow hit the crossbar, then the keeper’s back. But Valenciennes equalized just a few seconds later with Pujol.
Nancy, Auxerre, Lorient notch wins
In the other games of the weekend, Auxerre confirmed its good form with its second Ligue 1 win in a row. Jan Fernandez’s side scored twice through Birsa and Pedretti to beat Nice 2-0. Arles-Avignon lost for the first time in 3 games, with a 2-0 defeat at Lorient. A surprising result saw Nancy win 3-2 at Caen despite El-Arabi’s 7th Ligue 1 goal this season. He his now just one goal behind Dimitri Payet, Ligue 1′s leading goalscorer. In the last game of the weekend, Toulouse and Lens both earned a point in a 1-1 draw.