Tag Archives: Ligue 1

Time to take notice of Lille in Ligue 1

 

By Ryan Fleming

You’ve heard about Borussia Dortmund and how they are the shocking, pleasant surprise of Germany’s ever-popular Bundesliga. What you probably are not familiar with is the little club situated in the North of France, near where the border of Belgium lies, called Lille.

Domestically the French club hasn’t won anything since 1955, when it won the Coupe de France, way back when the first McDonald’s opened and the UEFA Champions League was established. But don’t tell the players that. Currently Lille are tops of the Ligue 1 table and boast the league’s most potent offense. So potent in fact that Nice manager Eric Roy lamented that Lille are Barcelona-like and remind him of “a certain Spanish team that play very well.” Let’s not get THAT ahead of ourselves.

Either way, much has to be said of what Lille are accomplishing and how they are handling themselves against European competition. Despite poor results from Marseille and Lyon, both 3-1 defeats, Les Dogues are making easy work of other, apparently inferior competition. Take away the defeat to Lyon and Marseille on the 17th and 24th of Oct., which happened to be back-to-back games, the team has a mere impeccable 6-0-3 record.

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A fool's guide to an unpredictable weekend across Europe (except for Spain)

By Jonathan Gold

Manchester United’s completely unpredictable 1-0 win over Liverpool – sorry Kevin – and Spurs’ similarly shocking triumph over mighty Charlton were FA Cup fixtures reminding us of how dire the competition can be, but there were a couple of real surprises this weekend in the oldest cup tournament in the world.

Arsenal 1 – 1 Leeds United

While it’s not, you know, outside the realm of possibility for Arsenal to be stumped by lower-level opposition who outwork it and close down aggressively, the Gunners have been on a roll of late, after an important win over Chelsea and a disappointing draw with Manchester City that they nonetheless dominated utterly. However, Leeds led for much of the second half and were denied the win only by a very late penalty from Fabregas.

Manchester City 2 – 2 Leicester City

Anytime the lower-league club pulls it out over a top-flight competitor – particularly one whose team cost approximately 963 times more than the opposition – it’s fun to watch. And, somewhat surprisingly for a game involving Manchester City, it actually was a good one to watch, as Leicester leapt on City’s pallid defense, scoring in the first minute and pulling level again midway through the second half. For a team full of wildly expensive defenders and defensive midfielders, City really was shocking at the back and could easily have lost.

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Ligue 1 title race still wide open

Stephane Sessegnon has helped Paris Saint-Germain keep pace in Ligue 1, but the winger could be on his way out of PSG during the January transfer window as bigger clubs make enticing bids. (Courtesy Wikicommons)

By Michael King

Entering the second half of the season, there’s little uncertainty in many domestic leagues throughout Europe. In England, Manchester United has a only two-point lead over its inter-city rival Man City, but the Red Devils have a critical two games in-hand. Without having dropped a match, it’s a big margin for Man U. Meanwhile, La Liga is experiencing its annual two-team struggle between Real Madrid and Barcelona. In Italy, perpetually steady AC Milan maintains a five-point lead over Lazio with little sign of the Rossoneri not keeping a champion’s pace. It’s an even odder year in the Bundesliga, where Borussia Dortmund has a seemingly insurmountable 10-point advantage.

It’s not that way in France. In fact, it’s far from it, where 10 teams are within five points of first-place Lille. For a French league that is often perceived as being a notch below others in Europe, an exciting title race should spark substantial interest.

Though there is no clear front-runner, a number of factors will determine who’s crowned league champion. Other cup competitions, results of the January transfer window and integration of new players will substantially impact the on-field results.

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Bundesliga Bringing the Boom

Young German starts Philip Lahm (left), Thomas Mueller and Sami Khedira defend a free kick in the World Cup this summer against Argentina. (Photo Courtesy sdhansay)

By Jonathan Gold

Quick, no thinking allowed: What’s the most entertaining soccer league in Europe? I guarantee you just got that wrong.

The Prem? Overpaid, overexposed, overcapitalized.

La Liga? If you’re not a fan of the endless financial pissing contest between Barca and Real, then you’re out of luck.

Serie A? Corrupt, slow, predictable.

Ligue 1? Sorry, too many racist shithead fans (at some clubs), the national apparatus is in utter disarray and all the talent goes to one of those other three leagues about 0.00145 seconds after it gets discovered.

Why didn’t you say the Bundesliga? Vas ist deine probleme? (Apologies, I’m 99 percent sure that doesn’t mean “What’s your problem?”)

All that aside, you should be watching German soccer. Yes, you. Particularly since the Revs season is over.

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Ligue 1 Starting To Take Old Form

Luch Gonzalez (pictured on the right) and Marseille claimed Ligue 1's title last year, ending Lyon'r reign at the top of France's top-division. This year Gonzalez and his teammates haven't been in top form thus far, but things seem to be turning around. (Courtesy Yann Caradec)

By Ryan Fleming

Things haven’t started off in Ligue 1 like anyone anticipated. The French giants, Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux, were nowhere to be found at the top of the league table. Smaller, less notable teams, such as Stade Rennes, Brest and Lille were the teams worth talking about – they still are. But, as the weeks go by, the so-called heavy hitters in France are creeping their way back to their rightful place.

Les Gones fought for a 1-0 win past Nice thanks to Jérémy Pied’s first goal of the season. Despite the missed penalty by Brazilian Michel Bastos shortly after his team took the lead, Lyon proved that, though scoring seems to be at a premium, it is willing to go through a war of attrition for 90-plus minutes and battle for points.

Its hottest signing Yoann Gourcuff has seemed to calm down and get over his horrid performance at the World Cup just in time for Les Gones to take full advantage. Lyon haven’t lost a league game since Sept. 25, a 1-0 against St. Etienne, and have broken the top half of the table for the first time all season.

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Marseille Leading the Way to the Top of Ligue 1

Marseille's home form this season has put the reignning Ligue 1 champions just one point behind leaders Stade Rennes. Courtesy fredGLLS

By Ryan Fleming

Parity in certain leagues, at least so far, is becoming more apparent. In the Bundesliga, German giants Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen are struggling while Mainz and Borussia Dortmund sit at the top of the table.

In Ligue 1, much is the same … for now. St. Etienne is only one point off the leader, Stade Rennes, while Lyon finds itself in the bottom half of the table. Last year’s Ligue 1 champs, Olympique Marseille, find itself back on the path to success; on itself way to finding their rightful place at the top of their table.

Starting off the season with two-straight losses to a little know club, Caen at the Stade Velodrome and away at Valenciennes, immediately signaled the start of perhaps the falling of the typical French giants.

Bordeaux and Lyon have started off the new season in a similar, inconsistent and underachieving fashion – both finding themselves at the bottom of the table early on. Bordeaux, losing their star forward, Marouane Chamakh, midfield star, Yoann Gourcuff and its manager Laurent Blanc to manage the French national team, has its obvious reasons for struggling.

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What The Soccer Guys Are Reading — Sept. 9, 2010

Didier Drogba was snapped up by Chelsea from Marseilles in 2004 when Jose Mourinho took over as manager for his brief spell in charge at Stamford Bridge. Marseilles will have t pay a hefty price if they want to bring the striker back to France. Courtesy United Nations Development Programme

FIFA.com —  Blatter: Encourage free-flowing football

President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter sits down and talks about this summer’s World Cup in South Africa and what changes could be made to how games are played. Blatter says rules for extra-time could be changed before the next World Cup to either include a shoot-out without any extra-time played or the the golden goal could return to encourage teams to play to win rather than draw during the earlier stages of the World Cup. Too bad the interview doesn’t mention anything about the use of technology in the future or the missed calls by some of the referees.

Sky Sports — Marseille reveal Drogba bid

Marseilles will try to defend its top-spot in Ligue 1 this summer the club’s manager Didier Deschamps had some disagreements with sporting director Jose Anigo over signings and transfers, but there was one move the two agreed on: An attempted signing of Chelsea’s prized striker, Didier Drogba. Drogba was sold by Marseilles to Chelsea in 2004 for £24 million and the club looked to bring their former ace after selling last season’s top scorer, Mamadou Niang, to Fenerbahce. The club’s bid for Drogba fell through as Chelsea values the player too much to let him leave without a suitable replacement.

The Guardian — John Toshack resigns as Wales manager

Wales hasn’t had the best start to its Euro 2012 qualifying campaign and the Welsh FA and manager, John Toshack, have agreed its in the best interest of the national team if Toshack resigned after six years in charge. Wales lost to Montenegro on Friday in a Euro 2012 qualifier and after the game Toshack and the Wales FA board met and decided on the fate of the manager. Toshack has been in charge of the national team since 2004 and had previously manager Real Madrid. Stoke City manager Tony Pulis looked to be the front runner to take over the spot as Wales’ manager, but he has already stated it is too soon for him to take over.

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Bordeaux issues present despite win

Bordeaux midfielder Yoann Gourcuff (right) assisted on his club's game-winning goal on Sunday afternoon. The 2-1 win was Bordeaux's first of the season after an 0-0-2 start. (Photo Courtesy Le Mensuel de Rennes)

By Ryan Fleming

Something happened to Bordeaux late last season: it started losing. That might sound commonplace in a sport where winning or losing can depend more on confidence than skill. But with the now-French national coach, Laurent Blanc, at the helm, the team from Southwest France skidded its way out of European play at the end of the season with a litany of poor performances before its elimination from the Champions League by league foe, Lyon.

In late May, Marouane Chamakh, the team’s most talented forward joined Arsenal on a free transfer suddenly leaving les Girondins with a gaping hole up front and no visible replacement lined up.

Two games into the 2010-11 season, Bordeaux followed its predictive form – struggling to score and without a point from its two league games. In Sunday night’s match against Paris Saint Germain, Bordeaux displayed both its struggles and the likely solutions in the 2-1 win over PSG. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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Marseille Looking Good Atop Ligue 1

By Ryan Fleming

It appears as if the race for the Ligue 1 title is all but over. Apparently playing the extra games in the Champions League took too much of a toll on French giants like Lyon and Bordeaux.

Olympique Marseille has found itself standing at a comfortable five-point lead over AJ Auxerre, who currently has 55 points.

Over the weekend Lyon and Bordeaux battled to a 2-2 draw. And when I say battled, I mean battled.

In the closing moments of the match, a mass brawl ensued after a bad foul by Lyon defender Anthony Reveillere. Reveillere and his victim, Benoit Tremoulinas, as well as Jussie saw red in the final stages.

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