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.
The quota controversy that has dominated the French media agenda this week means that Marseille’s 1-1 draw at home to Auxerre last Sunday did not yield the level of scrutiny you might expect from an unscheduled setback for the reigning league champions.
For once Marseille were decent value for the lead given to them by Mathieu Valbuena, but a 77th-minute equaliser by Auxerre’s South Korean substitute Jung Jo-Gook – his first goal for the club – enabled Lille to hold onto top spot after their breezy 5-0 demolition of Arles-Avignon the day before. If Lille win at third-bottom Nancy on Saturday night, defeat for Marseille at Lyon the following evening would leave OM four points behind Lille with only four games to play.
Lyon’s own title ambitions received a likely fatal blow in an abject 2-0 defeat at Toulouse. Michel Bastos and Aly Cissokho were both sent off, the latter for a petulant lunge on Daniel Braaten after he had inadvertently doubled Toulouse’s advantage by lobbing his own goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris. Cissokho’s 1/10 rating from L’Équipe was the lowest of the season to date.
Lyon’s slip allowed Paris Saint-Germain to draw level with them in third place, as Nenê ended his four-month Ligue 1 goal drought with a vicious 20-yard volley (see below) in a 3-1 defeat of Valenciennes. Rennes failed to win – again – in a 0-0 draw at Bordeaux, who saw Lorient creep above them into sixth place after a late, Kévin Gameiro-inspired rally saw the Brittany side register a 3-2 win at imperilled Lens.
Caen climbed to 16th place with a fine 4-0 win at Nice, with Nancy falling into the relegation zone following a 1-0 loss to Sochaux. It prompted Nancy coach Pablo Correa to announce that he will reverse his decision to leave the club if they go down.
Ligue 1 results
Saturday: Lens 2-3 Lorient, Lille 5-0 Arles-Avignon, Rennes 0-0 Bordeaux, Sochaux 1-0 Nancy, PSG 3-1 Valenciennes; Sunday: Marseille 1-1 Auxerre, Montpellier 0-0 Brest, Nice 0-4 Caen, Toulouse 2-0 Lyon, Saint-Etienne 1-1 Monaco
Goal of the week: Nenê (Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Valenciennes)
Player of the week: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient)
There can be few strikers in Europe that have struck upon as rich a seam of form as Gameiro has in recent weeks. Having scored eight goals prior to Christmas, he has netted 12 since the turn of the year and his brace against Lens took him to within one goal of current Ligue 1 top scorer Moussa Sow. Not only that, he helped snatch victory from a match in which Lorient appeared destined for defeat, thereby keeping Christian Gourcuff’s side in pole position in the race for Europa League qualification. After opening the scoring in the 20th minute, Gameiro nodded in Sigamary Diarra’s cut-back with seven minutes remaining to draw Lorient level after they had fallen 2-1 behind and then won an injury-time penalty that was converted by Morgan Amalfitano. Valencia may well regret not being prepared to pay €12 million for Gameiro in the January transfer window, because on current form his value is rising by the week.
Quote of the week
“We have the cup and we’re taking photos of each other. And then I hear Lilian Thuram – and I’m not the only one, Franck Leboeuf [heard it] as well – say: ‘Come on, let’s get a photo with all the blacks.’ And Franck Leboeuf gets up and says to him: ‘Lilian, what are you saying now? Imagine if we’d said, ‘Come on, let’s get a photo with all the whites.’ How would you have reacted?’ Those are discriminatory words and at no point did we misinterpret them and at no point could we have imagined that Lilian Thuram was a fascist or a racist.”
– Christophe Dugarry relates an anecdote about the celebrations that followed France’s 1998 World Cup triumph, after taking exception to Lilian Thuram’s remark that Laurent Blanc’s apology over the quota row was “not enough”
Stat of the week (courtesy of Opta Jean)
Since arriving at Rennes in 2008, Nicolas Douchez – who is set to join PSG in the summer – has kept more clean sheets (48) than any other goalkeeper in Ligue 1.
21: Moussa Sow (Lille)
20: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient)
17: Youssef El-Arabi (Caen)
15: Lisandro López (Lyon), Grégory Pujol (Valenciennes)
14: Gervinho (Lille), Nenê (PSG)
13: Modibo Maïga (Sochaux), Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne)
12: Park Chu-Young (Monaco)
11: Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Brown Ideye (Sochaux)
10: André Ayew (Marseille), Bafétimbi Gomis (Lyon), Anthony Modeste (Bordeaux), Loïc Rémy (Marseille)
9: Bruno Grougi (Brest)
8: Gaël Danic (Valenciennes), Romain Hamouma (Caen), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG)
12: Marvin Martin (Sochaux)
10: Anthony Mounier (Nice), Jaroslav Plašil (Bordeaux)
9: Morgan Amalfitano (Lorient), Gervinho (Lille)
8: Eden Hazard (Lille)
7: Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Ludovic Giuly (PSG)
6: Renaud Cohade (Valenciennes), Marco Estrada (Montpellier), Bruno Grougi (Brest), Jérôme Leroy (Rennes), Nenê (PSG)
Week 34 fixtures
Saturday: Arles-Avignon v Saint-Etienne, Auxerre v Montpellier, Bordeaux v Sochaux, Brest v Nice, Caen v Lens, Lorient v Toulouse, Monaco v PSG, Nancy v Lille; Sunday: Valenciennes v Rennes, Lyon v Marseille