Caen, Bordeaux Among Ligue 1 Suprises

Bordeaux has struggled to start 2010 after striker Marouane Chamakh left on a free transfer to Arsenal and manager Laurent Blanc left to lead the French National Team. (Photo Courtesy Edson Da Silva)

By Ryan Fleming

Something peculiar has happened to start the 2010-11 Ligue 1 season. Division giants, Lyon and Marseille, have fallen big to a little, but mighty team, while Bordeaux continues to search for a remedy to cure their poor form that started six months ago.

It’s a rarity when a lower division title champ defeats the country’s premier club. Stade Malherbe Caen can say it has done that and you can add the country’s runner-up, too. A week after upsetting Marseille, 2-1, at the Stade Velodrome, Caen held off Lyon, 3-2, at home yesterday. Maybe something is brewing in the Northwestern French city known more for it’s important location in the Normandy invasion in World War II. At the very least, it is a sign of change in France’s premier division.

Following its title season in Ligue 2, Caen hope to put its inconsistent past behind it and maintain in France’s top league for some time – a feat that has proved troublesome.

New to Ligue 1, Caen was first promoted in 1988, and in 1993 it had its first glance at European play, participating in the UEFA Cup. The same year, the team opened it’s current stadium, Stade Michel d’Ornano. Despite the zenith of the club’s success, two years later it was relegated, but experienced other short-lived stints in Ligue 1 again in the 1997-98, 2004-05 and the 2007-08 seasons.

For a team unable to maintain few consistent years in France’s top division this surely is a dream start. However, its upcoming schedule could send soaring aspirations crashing down to reality as fast as they began.

Bordeaux feeling blue

Nothing has gone right for Bordeaux.

The suffering started back in March when it played seven total competitive games in the month. Despite beating Olympiakos in the Champions League to move on against league foe Lyon in the tournament’s semifinal, which they eventually, it posted a record of 1-1-2 and was eliminated by Marseille in the Coupe de la Ligue final.

Bordeaux finished the year posting a 3-6-2 record in its final 11 matches, failing to qualify for European play in Laurent Blanc’s final season before taking over as manager of the French national team. With former Bordeaux midfielder, Jean Tigana at the helm, les Girondins don’t seem to be improving even now – posting a 0-2-0 record to start the current season.

When Maroune Chamakh left for Arsenal on a free transfer in May, Bordeaux was left with a big offensive question mark. Despite sought-after playmaker, Yoann Gourcuff staying in Bordeaux, the club can’t seem to connect. Forward, Fernando Cavenaghi seems to have too much pressure and two tough tests in Paris St. Germain and Marseille coming have Bordeaux pushing for results.

It’s early, the jitters are yet shaken off and the ball still doesn’t seem to go to where it is mostly meant. For Bordeaux, time is on its side. For Caen, time might still be the enemy.

Ryan Fleming is a writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at

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One thought on “Caen, Bordeaux Among Ligue 1 Suprises

  1. Julius Johannes von Payer says:

    Interesting about Caen but it seems a handful of “shocking” upsets are inevitable at the start of the year as newly promoted teams enter the league as unknown quantities, with some riding a bit of emotion and luck against a top-flight club looking for its form in a new campaign.

    Lowly Burnley’s 1-0 result against Man U in week two of the 2009 premiership campaign comes to mind. Burnley would find only 7 more victories and a ticket relegating them back to the championship.

    However, the fact that Caen managed two consecutive victories against arguably the two best ligue 1 sides says something and deserves any attention its given.

    Fine story lad.

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