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.
And then there were two. A week after Paris Saint-Germain gave up the ghost in the Ligue 1 title race, Lyon and Rennes both followed suit in Week 29.
Lyon led 2-0 going into injury time at Nice on Sunday, before capitulating completely in the space of just three minutes to leave their title ambitions in tatters. Pape Diakhaté was the villain of the piece. Having already conceded a penalty for a rash foul on Danijel Ljuboja, whose subsequent spot-kick was saved by Hugo Lloris, the on-loan Senegalese international stupidly scythed down Abdou Traoré and was promptly shown a second yellow card.
Eric Mouloungui punished Diakhaté’s indiscipline from the spot and moments later, Argentine centre-back Renato Civelli prodded in from close range – with his arm – to earn Nice an improbable draw and send Lyon into meltdown. Lloris lost his rag in the tunnel after the game and Jean-Michel Aulas was involved in a heated confrontation with Nice assistant coach Frédéric Gioria. Aly Cissokho, meanwhile, was drawn into an unsightly row with a supporter (sample quote: “And your mum!”) in training on Wednesday.
Lyon are now eight points behind Lille, who made it four wins on the spin with a 3-1 dismantling of Caen. Benoît Cheyrou’s fine second-half strike gave Marseille a 1-0 win at Lens on Sunday night to keep the champions within four points of Lille and launch what now seems certain to be a two-horse title race.
Rennes failed to muster a single shot on target in their 0-0 draw at home to Auxerre and lie seven points behind Lille in third place. PSG endured just as dismal an afternoon in a goalless draw at home to Lorient. It leaves them 12 points behind Lille in fifth and just four points above Montpellier, who won 1-0 at Toulouse.
Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Arles-Avignon 0-2 Monaco, Lille 3-1 Caen, Nancy 0-0 Bordeaux, PSG 0-0 Lorient, Rennes 0-0 Auxerre, Sochaux 2-1 Brest, Toulouse 0-1 Montpellier; Sunday: Nice 2-2 Lyon, Saint-Etienne 1-1 Valenciennes, Lens 0-1 Marseille
Goal of the week: Kim Källström (Nice 2-2 Lyon):
Player of the week: Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
As so often this season, Marseille’s 1-0 success at Lens was a laboured affair that could well have had a different outcome were it not for the brilliance and alertness of their goalkeeper. Sure in his handling and commanding at set-pieces, Mandanda also produced a sensational reflex stop to tip over a close-range header from Issam Jemâa in the 41st minute. “We create chances but we don’t take them,” explained the Marseille captain. “So, at the back, there are always one or two difficult situations, and you have to make sure you’re there.”
Quote of the week
“If you want us to just stick it in the box like I’ve seen Stoke City do, you’ll have to change the coach. I forbid it. It could have been the solution but we have our own style and we respect it.”
– Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti proves that it’s not just Premier League observers who have a less than flattering opinion of the football doctrine advocated by Tony Pulis
Stat of the week (courtesy of OptaJean)
Moussa Sow, who scored Lille’s third goal against Caen, is the first player to have scored 20 goals after the 29th round of matches in a Ligue 1 season since Bordeaux’s Pauleta in the 2001-02 campaign.
20: Moussa Sow (Lille)
16: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient)
15: Youssef El-Arabi (Caen)
13: Lisandro López (Lyon), Nenê (PSG)
12: Gervinho (Lille), Grégory Pujol (Valenciennes)
11: Brown Ideye (Sochaux), Modibo Maïga (Sochaux)
10: Bafétimbi Gomis (Lyon), Anthony Modeste (Bordeaux), Park Chu-Young (Monaco), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne)
9: Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Loïc Rémy (Marseille)
8: Gaël Danic (Valenciennes), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG)
11: Marvin Martin (Sochaux)
9: Anthony Mounier (Nice), Jaroslav Plašil (Bordeaux)
8: Gervinho (Lille)
7: Morgan Amalfitano (Lorient), Eden Hazard (Lille)
6: Ludovic Giuly (PSG), Bruno Grougi (Brest), Jérôme Leroy (Rennes)
Week 30 fixtures
Saturday: Auxerre v Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux v Arles-Avignon, Caen v PSG, Lorient v Sochaux, Monaco v Lille, Valenciennes v Nancy, Brest v Rennes; Sunday: Marseille v Toulouse, Montpellier v Nice, Lyon v Lens