A bite-size round-up of the week’s events in French football, for anyone who wants to keep up with what’s happening in Ligue 1 but hasn’t got the time (or the French) to do so.
For the first time in many years, Sunday night’s ‘clasico’ between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille actually felt like an important game in its own right, as PSG’s 2-1 victory at the Parc des Princes took them above their hated rivals to third in the table.
Delays meant the Marseille team coach did not arrive at the stadium until an hour before kick-off and it appeared to take their players around 20 minutes to realise the game had actually started, with Mevlüt Erding and Guillaume Hoarau putting the hosts two goals to the good before Marseille responded through Lucho González.
Brest remain top, despite conceding their first goals in nine matches as they went down 3-1 at Lille. Moussa Sow’s close-range header brought Brest’s extraordinary clean sheet streak to an end after 832 minutes, but a magnificent volley by Romain Poyet (see below) provided some consolation for the promoted side.
Second-placed Rennes are now a point behind Brest – albeit with a game in hand against Marseille still to come on December 1 – following an engaging 1-1 draw at home to Lyon. Hugo Lloris had already been called into action three times before a well-taken strike by Jirès Kembo Ekoko put the hosts ahead in the fifth minute, but Rennes could not sustain their blistering early momentum and a deflected second-half free-kick by Michel Bastos earned OL a share of the spoils.
A Kévin Gameiro brace gave Lorient a 2-1 win at Saint-Etienne (who are now without a win in six games), which sent Les Merlus up to ninth. In the relegation zone, Lens and Monaco both moved to within a point of safety after beating Montpellier (2-0) and Nancy (0-4) respectively. Meanwhile, Arles-Avignon claimed their first success of the campaign, at the 12th attempt, with a 3-2 win at home to floundering Caen.
Goal of the week: Romain Poyet (Lille 3-1 Brest, 2:09):
Player of the week: Nenê (Paris Saint-Germain)
Erding and Hoarau may have scored the goals that sank Marseille, but Nenê was without doubt the player who inflicted the most damage. Both goals stemmed from him, with Erding’s opener coming after Steve Mandanda had spilled a low shot from the Brazilian, who scooped a gorgeous pass over the visiting defence for Hoarau to dispatch PSG’s second. A constant source of invention and enterprise, he gave César Azpilicueta his most torrid game yet in a Marseille shirt and appeared to revel in his role of chief tormentor as Paris wound down the clock. If PSG really are on the brink of a return to former glories, Nenê is without doubt the symbol of their rejuvenation.
Quote of the week
“When you have Nenê in your team, it’s good; he wins lots of free-kicks. But watching him dive, dive and dive again makes you mad.”
– Souleymane Diawara seemingly attempts to justify his appalling stamp on Nenê at the Parc des Princes, which looks set to earn the Senegalese centre-back a four-match ban
Stat of the week (courtesy of OptaJean)
There are 477 French players playing in Europe’s top five leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France) – more than any other nationality.
8: Youssef El-Arabi (Caen), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne)
6: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient), Nenê (PSG), Grégory Pujol (Valenciennes), Moussa Sow (Lille)
5: Gervinho (Lille), Benoît Pedretti (Auxerre)
5: Marvin Martin (Sochaux)
4: Ludovic Giuly (PSG), Anthony Mounier (Nice), Jaroslav Plašil (Bordeaux)
Week 13 fixtures
Saturday: Bordeaux v Nancy, Brest v Sochaux, Marseille v Lens, Monaco v Arles-Avignon, Montpellier v Toulouse, Valenciennes v Saint-Etienne, Caen v Lille; Sunday: Auxerre v Rennes, Lorient v PSG, Lyon v Nice
Coupe de la Ligue
Auxerre stretched their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions with a 2-0 win at home to Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals on Tuesday. They will meet holders Marseille in January for a place in the final, after OM put their defeat by PSG behind them with a 2-1 win at home to Monaco. PSG’s all-conquering assault on every available piece of silverware continued with a 3-1 success at Valenciennes. Montpellier, 2-1 victors at home to Lille, complete the semi-final line-up.
Laurent Blanc named his squad to face England in a friendly at Wembley on November 17 and the most notable inclusion was Éric Abidal. The Barcelona left-back has not played for his country since the World Cup but may be able to exploit the worrying recent form of Gaël Clichy and the continued absence of the banned Patrice Evra. Jérémy Toulalan and Lassana Diarra will be harbouring doubts about their international futures, however, after they were both overlooked despite the unavailability of injured fellow central midfielders Abou Diaby and Blaise Matuidi.