Three things we learned this week in Ligue 1

Lacazette responds to his international squad exclusion in style

Having scored four times this season and impressing regularly last year, Alexandre Lacazette would’ve felt, at best, disheartened when he was left out of Didier Deschamps’ list of players for les Bleus’ upcoming fixtures against Portugal and Armenia. The pacey 23-year old replied to his international exile in the classiest of styles, with an impressive hat-trick against LOSC.

LOSC, who usually impress with their defensive resolve, were disappointing. Their lack of attacking creativity, on this season’s form, was not surprising. However. their uncharacteristic defensive fragility was perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of the game for Lille.

Backed by a passionate home support, OL broke the deadlock on thirty-eight minutes when captain Gonalons broke up a sloppy period of passing between the Lille midfield to passto the impressive Fekir. Fekir then played a long-ball through the Lille defence to find Lacazette who outmuscled Béria and then finished past Enyeama.

Lyon then doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time when Lacazette headed home from a Gourcuff free-kick to put les Lyonnais . It was an enjoyable first-period for the home support, and obviously the inverse for Lille supporters.

In the second-half the three points and Lacazette’s hat-trick were bothsealed when LOSC failed to deal  with another Lyonnais counter-attack. N’Jie, who has played regularly this season and signed a new contract during the week, did well to hold the ball up and play in his side’s talisman. It was too easy for Lacazette, as heeffortlessly drifted past red shirts before sliding the ball past Enyeama.

Lyon have gone unbeaten in their last five matches, with Fournier’s side back on track after their uneasy start to the season. Lacazette is once more proving to be a quality act and Lyon fans will be glad that he signed a contract until 2016 at the start of the season, because on this form the striker would have been a logical target for clubs with more financial power in the January window.

The result will pose Lille manager Girard very difficult questions. His side, when away from home, look  uninspiring and without the creative ability of Lopes, who is predicted to be sidelined for a month, it is difficult to see where the creativity that is so greatly need will come from.


Last-gasp Gignac winner sends Olympique de Marseille five points clear

André-Pierre Gignac has been in stunning form this season and he once again proved his worth on Saturday evening at a rain-soaked Stade Michel d’Orano. The 28-year-old scored in the third minute of the three added, with a goal which brings his tally for the season to nine goals, giving him an average of a goal every game.

In what was a game in which thrills and spills made for an extremely exciting final 30 minutes, Marseille just did enough to edge to a 2-1 victory against Caen, sending them five points clear of second-place Bordeaux. The win also extends Olympique de Marseille’s run of wins to seven games, while Caen yet again missed out on points at home.

A quiet first-half saw a well organised performance from Patrice Garande’s team thwart the vast majority of Marseille chances and goalkeeper  Vercoutre was on hand to make important saves. Things however changed in the second-half, when Alessandrini came on to replace Thauvin. On 74 minutes, Alessandrini made the most of his gifted left-foot to pick Romao out with an inch perfect corner, which the Togolese international met to head past Vercoutre.

Caen eventually did find a perhaps well-deserved equalizer when this time Musavu-King met a free-kick over the top of the Marseillais defence to head home. The ease at which the centre-back managed to escape his markers to meet the ball will give Bielsa cause for concern, as it proved that his side’s defensive problems have not disappeared.

Caen were able to hold on for about another nine minutes, but the increasing influence of Alessandrini on the game was telling. The  ease at which the midfielder was able to cut inside from the right-wing and switch play proved to be problematic for  Garande’s side. Alessandrini almost grabbed a goal for himself on the ninetieth minute mark, when he got on the end of an Ayew cross to head the ball on target, but Vercoutre pulled off a top save.

A winner came through the most likely of sources when after a Fanni long-ball, an André Ayew knock-down and a Benjamin Mendy side-foot pass, Gignac dispatched a rocket of a shot past the goalkeeper from close range to round-off a week which saw him recalled to the France iset-up perfectly.

Marseille supporters are understandably delighted with their side’s recent form, with OM’s one hundred percent record in their last seven games the envy of all other supports in France’s top-flight at the moment.

However, they cannot afford to remain as vulnerable at the back when taking on sides with such attacking quality as PSG and Lyon, in games they will  have to win if they are to challenge for the title, but they did demonstrate unity that they would not have shown last season. There were also many positives to be taken from the game for Caen, as without minor errors of concentration, they would have won a point against the league’s leaders.


PSG point enough to retain third-place

France’s  Champions League representatives clashed on Sunday night in what many billed to be the game of the weekend. It was a game in which the rhythm of play didn’t disappoint, with both sides showing no obvious signs of fatigue despite their midweek exertions. PSG yet again dominated the match in terms of possession, but failed to score more than once.

The draw, which was probably the fairest possible result in terms of the passage of the play, is the sixth match of the season in which PSG have shared the spoils, making them the club the most likely to draw in Ligue 1 matches so far this season.  The point, as a result of Lille’s defeat at Lyon, was enough to see Blanc’s side remain in third-place, but a win would have seen PSG move into second behind their rivals Marseille.

The outcome is perhaps not surprising. PSG, though making light work of most sides in the league since their  Qatari takeover and cash injection, have failed to record a win against Monaco since they beat them in the Coupe de France final in 2010. Currently languishing in sixth place, Monaco looked comfortable, perhaps with their historical form in mind.

Despite earlier chances for both sides, it took seventy-minutes for the first goal, when Bahebeck played in Lucas to score the PSG opener from close range. Marital then scored with what was a hammer-blow for the PSG support, when he finished tidily in added time, flicking the ball over Salvatore Sirigu to win his side a point.

PSG will again rue the fact that they let another three points slip away from them, in another weekend which saw Marseille distance their lead. The buzz of their win against Barcelona won’t hide the mediocrity of their domestic performances.

The result will give Monaco fans reason to be more enthusiastic, as regardless of PSG’s form, the Parc des Princes is never an easy place to go to.

The Author

Brendán MacFarlane

I'm a massive French football enthusiast, having fallen in love with all aspects and levels of the sport in France whilst working for a year in the town of Niort. As a French studies student, I'm constantly following what's going on in the French football media and bringing stories to the English-speaking world.

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