Tag Archives: Lille

Chelsea and Lille on different paths this season

Didier Drogba and Chelsea had their hopes of repeating as English Premier League with the unexpected loss to Liverpool over the weekend. (Courtesy Eric P Flickr)

By Ryan Fleming

In one of the more unpredictable weeks in the soccer world this year, there are a couple things to take note of, if you haven’t already.

1. Chelsea are struggling … still.

Despite their recent acquisitions of Davie Luiz and Fernando Torres, the Blues slipped, slid and went away with a whimper after their 1-0 loss to Liverpool. Naturally, much of the hype from the match surrounded the former Liverpool frontman, Torres, and how he would fair against his old club and if he would or would not celebrate if managed to score. Fortunately for the Reds new manager Kenny Dalglish, Torres was barely existent on the field, save for one scary moment that Jamie Carragher so gracefully blocked away.

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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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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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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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Ligue 1 Top Spot Up For Grabs

By Ryan Fleming

Oh, how the mighty fall. After losing their first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal to fellow French rival, Lyon, Bordeaux now finds itself out of the pole position in Ligue 1 after suffering three-straight defeats.

Last weekend, the French giant slipped up against AS Nancy Lorraine, 2-1, despite controlling play throughout the match – owning 71 percent of possession. Fernando Cavenaghi tallied for Bordeaux, tying the match at one, but Issiar Dia put the northern France side up for good in the 72nd minute.

Cavenaghi was one of Bordeaux’s best players last year, but this year he has been nearly invisible – only starting in 11 matches compared with last years 23.  Yoann Gourcuff, another Bordeaux star, has just returned to the spectacular form  the young French international has been known for. If the side from southern France even dares to dream of beating Lyon in the second leg and capturing the league title, Cavenaghi and Gourcuff, especially, will have to be the stars their fans know they can be.

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