This season’s final 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.
After 34 years in France’s top flight, during which they won five league titles, three Coupes de France, one Coupe de la Ligue and finished runners-up in the 2003-04 Champions League, Monaco were relegated to Ligue 2 following a 2-0 defeat by Lyon last Sunday.
For once Stade Louis II was packed to the rafters, but the home side looked no more cohesive than they have all season and eventually succumbed to second-half goals from Pape Diakhaté and Lisandro López. The legacy of a muddled transfer policy, Monaco’s descent already seems certain to cost them the services of goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier and South Korea striker Park Chu-Young, and they are unlikely to be the only ones to jump ship.
Victory secured a Champions League place for OL, meaning Paris Saint-Germain had to content themselves with the Europa League. There was better news to come for PSG, however, after Colony Capital announced that they had agreed to sell a controlling 70 percent stake in the club to a group of Qatari investors widely believed to be the Qatar Investment Authority. Cue outlandish transfer rumours.
Rennes’ 3-2 defeat at champions Lille saw them lose out on fifth place to Sochaux, who won 3-1 at Arles-Avignon. Sochaux will therefore avoid the inconvenience of a July start in the Europa League, but they will do so without Francis Gillot, after the coach revealed he was in talks to join Bordeaux. Jean Fernandez, meanwhile, has stepped down as coach of Auxerre.
A Loïc Rémy double rescued a 2-2 draw for Marseille at Caen, but the outgoing champions face an uncertain summer. Gabriel Heinze and Lucho González are already heading for the exit, while Didier Deschamps has until June 15 to decide whether or not to trigger a contractual clause that allows him to buy himself out of his contract for €3 million.
Ligue 1 results
Sunday: Arles-Avignon 1-3 Sochaux, Bordeaux 2-0 Montpellier, Brest 0-2 Toulouse, Caen 2-2 Marseille, Lille 3-2 Rennes, Lorient 1-2 Auxerre, Monaco 0-2 Lyon, Nancy 4-0 Lens, Saint-Etienne 1-1 PSG, Valenciennes 2-1 Nice
Goal of the week: Pascal Berenguer (Nancy 4-0 Lens)
Player of the week: Moussa Sow (Lille)
With 20 minutes on the clock at Stade Le Moustoir last Sunday, Kévin Gameiro put Lorient in front from a Morgan Amalfitano pass to draw level with Sow on 22 goals at the top of the scoring charts. A tie would have seen the Trophée du Meilleur Buteur awarded to the player who had scored the fewest goals from set-pieces (Sow, for the record), but as the statisticians scrambled for their notebooks, the Senegalese international claimed sole possession of the trophy by notching a hat-trick – his third of the season – that also made him the first player to reach the 25-goal mark since Djibril Cissé in 2003-04. His first was an emphatic 36th-minute penalty after he had been tripped by Kader Mangane, his second, just beyond the hour, a thumping toe-poke from an Eden Hazard pass, and his third a two-yard tap-in after Gervinho had rounded the goalkeeper and rolled the ball towards goal. For a player who had found the net just 12 times for Rennes in Ligue 1 prior to joining Lille last summer, it represented a fitting end to an astonishing season.
Quote of the week
“I’ll do it, I’ll do it. I’ll keep my word, I’ll do it.”
– TF1 pundit Bixente Lizarazu, who promised in July last year that he would run naked through the streets of Evian if Evian Thonon Gaillard secured promotion from Ligue 2, which they promptly did. No date has yet been set.
Stat of the week (courtesy of OptaJean)
The 2010-11 season featured 130 draws, the third highest total in Ligue 1 history.
25: Moussa Sow (Lille)
22: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient)
17: Youssef El-Arabi (Caen), Lisandro López (Lyon), Grégory Pujol (Valenciennes)
16: Loïc Rémy (Marseille)
15: Gervinho (Lille), Brown Ideye (Sochaux), Modibo Maïga (Sochaux)
14: Nenê (PSG)
13: Dimitri Payet (Saint-Etienne)
12: Olivier Giroud (Montpellier), Park Chu-Young (Monaco)
11: André Ayew (Marseille)
10: Bafétimbi Gomis (Lyon), Anthony Modeste (Bordeaux)
17: Marvin Martin (Sochaux)
13: Morgan Amalfitano (Lorient)
11: Anthony Mounier (Nice)
10: Gervinho (Lille), Eden Hazard (Lille), Jaroslav Plašil (Bordeaux)
8: Renaud Cohade (Valenciennes), Ludovic Giuly (PSG)
7: Ryad Boudebouz (Sochaux), Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Gaël Danic (Valenciennes), Jérôme Leroy (Rennes), Nenê (PSG)
6: Marco Estrada (Montpellier), Bruno Grougi (Brest), Romain Hamouma (Caen), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG)
France tackle Belarus in Minsk tonight, bidding to avenge their shock 1-0 defeat in September and galvanise their position at the top of Euro 2012 qualifying Group D. A knee ligament injury to Philippe Mexès means Mamadou Sakho will deputise alongside Adil Rami at centre-back, while Rémy is expected to miss out after sustaining a quadriceps injury against Caen. France take on Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine in a pair of friendly matches next week, when Gameiro is set to be given his first start in a France shirt.
Likely France starting XI against Belarus: Hugo Lloris; Bacary Sagna, Adil Rami, Mamadou Sakho, Éric Abidal; Alou Diarra, Abou Diaby; Florent Malouda, Samir Nasri, Franck Ribéry; Karim Benzema.
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