The Paris/Marseille rivalry might have been started by the media, it is now well installed in the world of French football. In the last few years, Paris’ lack of consistency in Ligue 1 deprived the clasico of most of its taste; but this season, with the capital’s club renewed ambitions, it started to look like a big game again. And, for the first time in 6 years, PSG won at home against its Southern rival, in a game that showcased a high physical intensity.
The first 30 minutes of the game were epic, with 3 goals scored in just 23 minutes; in fact, the French Champion was already 2 goals behind its rival after 19 minutes, thanks to its two strikers, Hoarau and Erding. Both criticized in the last few weeks for their lack of efficiency (especially Hoarau, who’s been regularly called up to the French national team by Laurent Blanc), they woke up and both scored in the same game for the first time in more than 6 monts. The Turkish international was the first to strike, following a Nênê shot misjudged by Steve Mandanda, OM’s international keeper. Marseille’s players looked lost on the field, as they hardly managed to bring the ball to PSG’s final 30 meters. On the contrary, PSG kept attacking over and over, led by a great Nênê, who might very well be the best Ligue 1 player of this first third of the season. An amazing chip pass by the Brazilian allowed Hoarau to extend PSG’s lead and light up the Parc des Princes. OM reacted a few minutes later thanks to Lucho Gonzalez (Marseille’s best player on Sunday night) after a mistake by PSG keeper Edel Apoula. The game then progressively lost some of its intensity. OM never managed to equalize despite a couple of clear chances, including a late shot by André Ayew saved by Edel.
Brest and the forgotten taste of defeat
This might be the biggest news in Ligue 1 this weekend: Brest gave up goals. And lost a game ! Steeve Elana, Brest’s goalkeeper, had to go get the ball in the back of his net for the first time in more than 850 minutes. After two consecutive defeats in Ligue 1, and a worrying draw against Levski Sofia in Europa League this week, Lille’s firepower finally woke up. Its devastating wingers Gervinho and Hazard never let Brest’s defence breathe for a single second. Moussa Sow, the former Rennes striker, scored first following a deflected cross that left him alone in front of an empty net to give Lille the lead. Gervinho followed to make it 2-0. Brest reacted with a fantastic goal from Romain Poyet, who scored on a direct volley following a long free kick in the box. Landreau could only watch the ball fly above his head and end up in the goal. But a late goal by Hazard ruined Brest’s hope for a draw. Will this game mark the true start of LOSC’s season?
Lyon and Rennes each gain a point
Rennes, the 2nd team in the Ligue 1 rankings before this weekend’s games, hoped to give Lyon its second defeat in just 4 days, after its spectacular yet worrying showing in Lisbon (3-4). It looked like Puel’s men stayed stuck in Portugal during the last 20 minutes of the game, when Rennes’ players kept storming Lloris goal. After just 20 seconds, Stéphane Dalmat lost its one-on-one with Les Bleus’ keeper. The Nice native did his best to keep OL afloat, like many games this season. Without Aly Cissokho on the left side of his defence, Claude Puel chose to start Swedish international midfielder Kim Källström as a left-back. Against Benfica, he picked central defender Dejan Lovren to fill this position, a choice which turned out to be a real disaster. Well, Källström’s first 20 minutes could be qualified similarly. Kembo-Ekoko, a speedy winger, made the Swede look like a rookie. Rennes finally found the back of the net on a lost ball by Källström following a simple goal kick by Lloris. Kembo took the ball, went past Cris and buried the ball with a powerful right-footed shot. But Lyon reacted, as Källström went back to the midfield, and Michel Bastos traded his left winger position for the left side of the defence (a role he occupied with Brazil in South Africa this summer). Lyon came close to equalize on a volley by Gomis, but Nicolas Douchez’s stellar save denied the former St Etienne player his third Ligue 1 goal of the season. A few minutes later, a long-range shot by Källström went straight to the post. OL finally equalized at the 55th minute, on a powerful free-kick by Michel Bastos which ended up under Douchez’s crossbar after a slight deflection. Neither Lyon nor Rennes managed to get real chances after this goal, and they both ended up with a rather satisfying draw.
A few weeks ago, they were the hot topic in French football. At the end of September, they proudly occupied the number one seat in Ligue 1, and their attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet was the flavor of the moment. Payet might still be the league’s leading goalscorer (along with Caen’s sensation El-Arabi, with 8 goals each), but his team lost its second consecutive game, at home this time, against Lorient.Two goals by rookie international (1 cap) Kevin Gameiro gave Lorient a deserved 2-1 victory. Defenders Marchal and Sall violently quarreled on the field after Gameiro’s game-winning goal, scored at the 82nd minute. Is it the start of gloomier days for Les Verts, or just a tough moment?
Yes. You read well. Arles-Avignon WON.
After 11 games, Arles-Avignon’s first season ever in Ligue 1 looked just like a nightmare. With 9 defeats, 2 draws, and a roster that looked more like an addition of mercenaries and things-of-the-past (look up for Charisteas, Angelos on Wikipedia for more detailed information ; see also Mejia and Pavon), Arles-Avignon was Ligue 1 fans’ favorite joke subject. Two weeks ago, a tie against OL gave its fans one of their first smiles of the season. On Saturday nights, other teams’ supporters probably double-checked their favorite football site when they read news of a win by Ligue 1’s 20th team. Another former Ligue 2 side (and Ligue 2 champion) Caen was the first team not to get any point of a game against Arles, after a 2-3 defeat marked by globetrotter (he played for 17 different teams – yes, he might have played for your team, but you don’t even remember him. Or maybe you just don’t want to. This is understandable, in a way. Nothing worth bragging about!) and veteran striker Kaba Diawara, whose brace helped Arles get its first win of the season, in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. Yes, Caen fans. It happened. Despite El-Arabi’s seventh goal of the season, Caen lost a second game in just 8 days, after its 2-3 loss against Nancy at home last week.
Lens, Nice and Monaco get some fresh air; Bordeaux stays stuck; Sochaux stops the bleeding
In the other games of the weekend, Lens got its second consecutive win, at home against Montpellier. Adil Hermach’s wonderful free kick gave his team the lead, while Ivory Coast international Kanga Akalé scored Lens’ second goal. Nancy delivered a nightmare performance in front of its fans, and lost 0-4 against Monaco. Moreover, Monaco’s first two goals were scored by Nancy players… South Korean international striker Park Chu-Young added a nice brace to give its side some fresh air. Nice also notched a win a home against a Toulouse team whose superb summer has faded away. Do not miss Ben Saada wonderful long-range strike. Two other games ended up in a 1-1 draw: Bordeaux had to wait until the final minutes and summer signing Moussa Maazou’s first goal to equalize at home against Valenciennes. Tigana’s men delivered an awful performance during the first 70 minutes of the game, and Bordeaux’s President Triaud declared that the only solution to solve the club’s crisis was ‘a good fight in the locker room’. The other 1-1 draw saw Sochaux get a point against Auxerre. Sammaritano, who also scored against Ajax in Champions’ League on Wednesday, gave Auxerre the lead, but the visitors responded with a late goal by former Le Mans striker Modibo Maïga.