Tag Archives: Lyon

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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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 – August 24, 2010

Arsenal forward Theo Walcott scored three goals against Blackpool om Saturday, which led to comparisons to Arsenal great Thierry Henry by manager Arsene Wenger.

ESPN Soccer – Hat trick draws Henry comparisons for Theo

After scoring three goals in Arsenal’s 6-0 thrashing of everyone’s second-favorite Premier League team Blackpool, Theo Walcott has drawn perhaps the ultimate compliment from manager Arsene Wenger. While Wenger praised his future as a striker, he also compared the 21-year-old Englishman to former Arsenal legend and current New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry. Walcott has struggled to find regular playing time since joining Arsenal, but with his manager’s backing 2010-11 could be a huge season for the youngster.

The Guardian – Liverpool reject €15m bid from Barcelona for Javier Mascherano – James Callow

Despite his refusal to play on Monday in a 3-0 loss to Manchester City, Liverpool is still holding strong on its financial demands for midfielder Javier Mascherano. The Argentine has already agreed to terms with La Liga side Barcelona, as part of his family’s goal to get the hell out of Liverpool. While Liverpool respects his wish to leave Merseyside, it will not agree to any contract that does not provide any financial benefit. Roy Hodgson will need a lot of motivation to start Lucas 36 more times. Continue reading

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France ready after miserable summer

Marseille striker Loic Remy is one of several younger players France has turned to after its disgraceful showing at the World Cup. (Photo Courtesy Fabio Dekker)

By Michael King

At the international level, 18 games is an eternity. With friendlies scattered sparingly throughout the soccer season and major tournaments only once every few years, opportunities for international success can be elusive.

And for the French Football Federation, that’s exactly the point.

The organization suspended maligned striker Nicolas Anelka, 31, for precisely that length Tuesday afternoon, effectively ending his international career.

The FFF also suspended former captain Patrice Evra for five games and handed down lesser bans to Franck Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan for their roles in the team’s off-the-field antics during June’s World Cup. 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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A Few Quick Points – Celtic Style

Courtesy Sarah Quinn Armitt

By Ryan Fleming

Few American soccer fans are lucky enough to have their favorite team come to the United States, have a majority of their games televised and even fortunate to attend one. Celtic FC, my favorite team, is currently taking part in a preseason tour in the U.S. Two of its games have been nationally televised, and I am lucky enough to attend their upcoming game at Fenway Park in Boston this Wednesday.
Despite all these fortunes I am rather down, almost embarrassed on what I have seen or heard so far.

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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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