Ligue 1: Toulouse full steam ahead as the big ones stagger

by Etienne Michon

We’re already four games up in the Ligue 1 season and things don’t exactly go the way they were expected to. Etienne Michon takes a closer look at the results, at Toulouse’s wonderful start and at the difficulties faced by France’s biggest clubs. He also sums up the latest transfer moves, including Gourcuff’s signing for OL.

Lyon posts another worrying performance

Claude Puel’s team will have to improve drastically in order to compete for Aulas’ number one goal this season, the Ligue 1 title. A second defeat in just 4 games highlighted OL’s defensive weaknesses. French international Jérémy Toulalan, who switched from midfield to central defense this season, is a hot topic in France as Laurent Blanc has decided not to call him up for France’s next two international games. The former Nantes player posted a couple of stellar performances as a defender last season, including some in Champions’ League games, but it seems that the South African disaster has affected him mentally. His pairing with Dejan Lovren has suffered against Kevin Gameiro (included in Blanc’s squad) and Lynel Kitambala’s speed. A handball by Toulalan in the box allowed Gameiro to bury a penalty kick and give Lorient the lead after 9 minutes. Despite Gourcuff’s first game for Lyon (he came in as a sub for an injured Delgado at the 29th minute), Lorient extended its lead to 2-0 during the second half as Kitambala struck from close range.

MOTM : Kevin Gameiro (Lorient)

Modeste saves the day for Bordeaux

At first, it looked like it would be an easy win for OM at Stade Chaban-Delmas. With Loic Rémy starting and André-Pierre Gignac on the bench, the visitors scored first thanks to Lucho Gonzalez after 12 minutes. Deschamps’ team dominated the first half but did not manage to beat Carrasso (a former OM player) a second time, as the French international keeper made a couple of stellar saves to keep OM within shooting range. But a reckless tackle by midfielder Edouard Cisse forced the referee to award him a red card after just 36 minutes, thus making the game more balanced. Marseille spent most of the second half defending its one-goal advantage but remained dangerous on counter-attacks, especially with Rémy, who forced Carrasso to dive on his left to avoid another OM goal. However, Bordeaux’s efforts finally paid off as Anthony Modeste headed a Plasil cross to find the back of the net at the 88th minute.

MOTM : Carrasso (Bordeaux)

Paris drowns at Sochaux

Despite playing a very solid game at home against Bordeaux the week before, two corners sealed Paris’ first loss of the season. Kombouaré’s men we looking for a rebound at Sochaux last weekend. But things did not exactly go as planned, as Sochaux was already up 3-0 at halftime. PSG, which failed to land a central defender during the last hours of the transfer market, showed concerns regarding its defense are still vivid. Coupet, Jallet and Camara posted shaky performances, allowing Maïga, Ideye and Perquis to each notch a goal. Despite a goal by international striker Guillaume Hoarau early into the second half, PSG never played well enough to hope for anything better.

MOTM : Nicolas Maurice-Belay (Sochaux)

Toulouse continues its game-winning streak

Despite Gignac’s departure, Toulouse is enjoying a stellar start with four victories in four games. Casanova’s men lead the Ligue 1 rankings and beat Nancy 2-0 last weekend thanks to goals by Etienne Capoue and youngster Franck Tabanou. However, the score does not really reflects the game as Nancy came close to scoring a couple of times, but Valverde (TFC’s second-choice keeper) and the crossbar each denied the local side a goal.

MOTM : Mathieu Valverde (Toulouse)

Rennes, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne, Monaco and Brest get 3 points

Four teams came back home with a victory as Rennes, Brest and Montpellier imitated Toulouse with an away victory. Rennes forced promoted side Arles-Avignon to a fourth loss in four games thanks to a beautiful goal by Montaño, while Montpellier won 1-0 at Valenciennes with a header from striker Olivier Giroud. In a game between two former Ligue 2 sides, Brest beat Caen 2-0.  In the meantime, Monaco notched its first win of the season against Auxerre (goals by Niculae and Aubameyang). Lille remains unbeaten but winless with its fourth draw in four games (1-1 agaisnt Nice)

A few late moves wake up a globally quiet transfer market

Lyon and Marseille were the most active clubs in the last days of the transfer market as they both signed French internationals to double-digit transfer fees. With Captain Mamadou Niang gone to Turkey, Marseille spent 32M€ to land an impressive Gignac-Rémy pair of strikers. A few days later, Lyon agreed with Bordeaux on a 22M€ fee to sign Ligue 1′s best player of the 08-09 season, international playmaker Yoann Gourcuff. The player was presented at Stade de Gerland in front of a crowd of 15 000. Lyon also landed central defender (and former Nancy, St Etienne player) Pape Diakhaté on loan from Dynamo Kiev. Bordeaux lost Fernando Cavenaghi to Mallorca and replaced him by Moussa Maazou (who spent the last 6 months at Monaco) ; Tigana’s men also replaced Gourcuff with talented Valenciennes player Ben Kalfallah.

Author Info

Etienne Michon

Etienne Michon

Biz. student from Lyon, France. I'm a French and US soccer fan, and an Olympique Lyonnais season ticket holder. Apart from Ligue 1, I follow the EPL, la Liga and the MLS. I'm also a Houston Dynamo, Atlético Madrid and Liverpool supporter. You can also listen to my Ligue 1 analyses on France 24's sports podcast. Follow me on Twitter @E_ten

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