Matchday 2 confirms a chaotic start for Ligue 1’s top teams

by Etienne Michon

OM bites the dust.. again

Everything tastes a bit different when it comes to Olympique de Marseille. The club is currently experiencing its first (small) crisis of the season as captain Mamadou Niang left for Fenerbahce (on a 8M€ deal) and French international Hatem Ben Arfa threatened to stop his career if the club failed to fulfill its promise to let him go. In the same time, what seemed to be a secured deal with Sevilla star striker Luis Fabiano turned ugly as the Spanish club demanded too much (18M€) from the French Champions. And as Mamadou Samassa signed with Ligue 1 side Valenciennes yesterday, there is only one experienced striker left on Didier Deschamps’ roster, the Brazilian Brandao. OM chairman Dassier promised to land ‘two quality strikers’ before the end of the month, and Gignac seems to be on the top of OM’s short-list. Other names evoked are Roman Pavlyuchenko and Loic Rémy.

But this weekend, Marseille fell to Valenciennes 3-2, after being down 3-0 at the 62nd minute. Two goals by Gregory Pujol and one by Gael Danic exposed Marseille’s defensive weaknesses, as Stephane Mbia and Souleymane Diawara are still sidelined due to injuries. The Ndiaye-Heinze partnership did not reassure, and Steve Mandanda posted another rather shaky performance. Despite a late push with a Taye Taiwo goal from the penalty spot, and an own goal, Marseille failed to equalize and is now ranked 18th in the League standings.

MOTM : Grégory Pujol (Valenciennes)

Caen, flavor of the week

The Ligue 2 Champions posted another astonishing performance this weekend, after beating Marseille on matchday one. In front of a sold-out crowd at Stade Michel D’Ornano, they brought down Lyon after a hectic first half that saw 4 goals in 26 minutes.  After just one minute and a lost ball in midfield, Caen caught OL’s backline off guard with a deep pass that ended in Youssef El-Arabi’s feet. He buried it with a wonderful finish and put Caen up 1-0. Lyon reacted with a great Jimmy Briand’s cross headed into the back of the net by Bafetimbi Gomis. But a few minutes later, Yohan Mollo easily got rid of Anthony Réveillère on the left side and found an unmarked Sambou Yatabaré inside the box. The striker made it 2-1 with a short-range blast past Hugo Lloris.

But OL showed its reaction capacity, just like last season, when a deflected Michel Bastos shot found Gomis for an easy tap in. Claude Puel’s men seemed to get the upper hand on the game but a few seconds before half-time, Réveillère was given a second yellow card following a reckless tackle on Mollo. Lyon then lost Cris and Bastos due to injuries and had to field an experimental back-four with centerback Dejan Lovren as a right-back and a pairing of midfielders in central defense with Jeremy Toulalan and Maxime Gonalons. Despite managing to contain Caen and getting a few chances, Lyon gave up a goal at the 76th minute when a free kick by Mollo was converted into a goal by the young Ismaile N’Diaye following poor marking from OL’s defense. This victory sends Caen to an unexpected 2nd place in Ligue 1’s rankings.

Cris and Bastos are said to be sidelined for 4 to 6 weeks. This adds to Ederson’s serious injury suffered during Brazil’s game vs. the US: the international midfielder is said to be ruled out for 3 to 8 months following a rare thigh injury.

MOTM: Yohan Mollo (Caen)

Bordeaux loses the Garonne Derby

Except for the new jerseys and the departures of both Laurent Blanc and Marouane Chamakh, nothing has changed for Bordeaux, performance-wise. Tigana’s men lost their second game in a row, this time at home, against Toulouse, Ligue 1’s new leader.  Despite Andre-Pierre Gignac’s absence, Toulouse managed to score twice at Stade Chaban-Delmas thanks to Norwegian midfielder Daniel Braaten and Etienne Didot. Jaroslav Plasil had equalized in the meantime, while new signing Anthony Modeste made his Bordeaux debut just 3 days after being signed for 3M€ from OGC Nice. However, Toulouse lost Gignac’s backup, forward Xavier Pentecôte, following a torn ACL. Tigana has many things to work on, but is still deprived of many defensive players, including French internationals Marc Planus, Cedric Carrasso and Michael Ciani.

MOTM: Braaten (Toulouse)

Paris keeps Lille toothless

A solid Paris brought back a good point from Lille’s Stadium Nord, a ground where many big guns lost points last season. Despite keeping control of the ball during most of the game, Lille failed to score, and Paris-SG managed to get a few dangerous chances through Nênê or Erding. But the visitors did not managed to beat the good Mickael Landreau in goals and the game ended with a logical 0-0 draw which showed that PSG’s defense might be gradually improving.

MOTM: Landreau (Lille)

Lens, Saint-Etienne, Rennes and Nice notch wins

In the other games of the weekend, both Nancy (0-3 against Rennes) and Lorient (1-2 vs. Nice) lost their first games on home astroturf. Many players and coach criticized the new fields and highlighted the differences between turf and real grass.

Saint-Etienne went as far as leading 3-0 against Sochaux but a difficult last few minutes almost saw Sochaux come back to 3-3. Lens came back from Arles-Avignon with 3 points thanks to the first Ligue 1 goal of youngster David Pollet, while Auxerre didn’t reassure itself before their Champions League qualifying game vs. Zenit this week after a 1-1 draw at Brest. The Monaco-Montpellier game has been postponed to Tuesday night due to heavy rains.


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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3 Responses

  1. And of course it is André-Pierre Gignac and not Jean-Pierre :D

    1. Kevin Coleman Kevin Coleman says:

      LOL.

      Put in first names next time, and this stuff wouldn’t happen :D

      1. I will, my laziness got me ;)

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