“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain closed to within two points of Ligue 1 leaders Montpellier by overwhelming second-bottom Sochaux 6-1 at a sun-splashed Parc des Princes on Sunday.”
My AFP round-up of the weekend’s Ligue 1 action, including a stirring comeback by Lyon that kept their faint hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive, can be read here.
“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain failed to capitalise on leaders Montpellier’s slip-up against Lorient after conceding an 87th-minute goal to draw 1-1 at Ligue 1′s bottom side Auxerre on Sunday.”
My AFP round-up of Sunday’s Ligue 1 action, including setbacks for PSG and Montpellier, a fine goal by on-loan Arsenal forward Joel Campbell, and Joe Cole’s first league goal since December 21, can be found here.
“Olivier Giroud and his team-mates have only recently begun to discuss the title as a realistic objective but they are starting to enjoy their role as the unwelcome thorn in PSG’s side. At a recent conference about the future of French football, PSG sporting director Leonardo sparked controversy by accusing his club’s domestic rivals of devoting all their training sessions to “toros [piggy in the middle] and shots at goal”. When asked how his side had prepared for the game against Sochaux, Montpellier coach René Girard smiled and replied: “By doing toros all week.” PSG may loom large in Montpellier’s rear-view mirror, but they are clearly not the intimidating sight that Leonardo would like to think.”
My latest Pitchside Europe article for Eurosport, on how Montpellier are continuing to set the pace in the Ligue 1 title race, can be read here.
“PARIS — Champions Lille closed to within four points of top spot in Ligue 1 by winning 2-1 at home to Toulouse on Sunday and saw their grip on third place further strengthened by Lyon’s 1-1 draw at Rennes.”
My AFP report on the weekend’s Ligue 1 action, including an important win for Lille and another setback for Paris Saint-Germain, can be read here.
“PARIS — An injury-time winner from substitute Kévin Gameiro earned Paris Saint-Germain a narrow 2-1 victory at third-bottom Dijon on Sunday that preserved their place at the top of the Ligue 1 table.”
My AFP report on how PSG (just) kept their noses in front of Montpellier in the Ligue 1 title race, including a round-up of all the weekend’s main headlines, can be read here.
“PARIS — Ligue 1 title favourites Paris Saint-Germain returned to the top of the table after overwhelming third-bottom Ajaccio 4-1 at a rain-soaked Parc des Princes on Sunday.”
My AFP report on PSG’s return to the Ligue 1 summit, including a summary of all the weekend’s major stories in the French top flight, can be read here.
“PARIS — A last-minute goal by Mevlüt Erding earned Rennes a 1-1 draw at home to Lille on Sunday that prevented the French champions from galvanising their grip on third place and closing the gap on leaders Montpellier.”
My AFP round-up of the weekend’s Ligue 1 action, including setbacks for Lille and Marseille and an extraordinary 4-4 draw between Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain that allowed Montpellier to go top, can be found here.
“PARIS — Montpellier proved their Ligue 1 title credentials by holding league leaders Paris Saint-Germain to a 2-2 draw in the top-of-the-table clash at Parc des Princes on Sunday.”
My AFP match report on Montpellier’s impressive draw at PSG, which contains a round-up of all the Ligue 1 headlines from the weekend, can be read here.
“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain inched a point clear in Ligue 1 on Sunday following a 0-0 draw at Nice, after Ludovic Obraniak had netted a 93rd-minute winner for Bordeaux in an extraordinary 5-4 win at his former club Lille.”
My AFP round-up of the weekend’s matches in Ligue 1, including an astonishing nine-goal game at Lille and another match-changing performance by Olivier Giroud, can be read here.
The clue was in the number. “A press conference will take place on Wednesday 1 February at 15:30 at Parc des Princes to present Thiago Motta, who will wear the number 28,” read the brief statement released by Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. Motta is a European champion and an Italy international, who cost the not insignificant sum of €10 million, but he was not the star signing that PSG had been hoping to announce on the final day of the transfer window. To paraphrase Garry Cook’s famous remark about Richard Dunne, he doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in Beijing.
There are vacant numbers in the current PSG squad list that could have adorned replica shirts liable to be torn off the rails in the club shop. Alexandre Pato might have chosen the number 11 shirt that he wore at Internacional and has sported at times for Brazil. The number eight that Kaká wears for Real Madrid is also unattributed. With Jérémy Ménez in possession of the number seven shirt and Mohamed Sissoko the number 23, David Beckham had been lined up for the number 32 jersey. After the Englishman’s abrupt volte-face, that shirt was earmarked for Carlos Tevez. But neither he, nor Beckham, nor Kaká, nor Pato will be seen in PSG’s iconic strip this season.
PSG made four signings in January – with Motta following Maxwell, Alex and new fourth-choice goalkeeper Ronan Le Crom through the door – but none of them were the marquee names that had held the local media in a state of permanent breathless excitement since the transfer window loomed onto the horizon in mid-December. Although Motta was relinquished reluctantly by Internazionale, Chelsea were quite happy to cede Alex and Maxwell left Barcelona with little fanfare.
There are few more glamorous locations than Paris and few clubs in the world capable of matching PSG’s huge spending power, but Ligue 1′s low international profile – coupled with the absence of European football at Parc des Princes in the second half of the season – has frustrated the club’s efforts to attract the kind of players who generate global interest.
“PARIS — Marseille dug deep to come from behind and win 2-1 at Rennes on Sunday, extending their winning run to seven games in all competitions and returning to within two points of the Champions League positions in Ligue 1.”
My AFP round-up of the weekend’s Ligue 1 matches, featuring a brace for Lille debutant Nolan Roux and a last-minute winner by Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud, can be found here.
“Rémy’s burgeoning partnership with Valbuena has been a key factor in the revival. Of the former Lyon striker’s nine league goals, five had been created by Valbuena, who tops the Ligue 1 assists chart with 10 decisive passes. The pair are motivated by a shared desire to secure places in France’s Euro 2012 squad and their understanding is underscored by an off-pitch friendship. “Sometimes, it feels like we’re the only ones playing and that everything will come off,” says Rémy.”
I’ve written a piece for ESPN Soccernet on how Didier Deschamps has transformed Marseille from a side that won just once in their opening 10 league games into one competing for silverware on four fronts. You can read it here.
“PARIS — With around 50 players leaving France for the Africa Cup of Nations this month, Ligue 1 clubs are having to juggle their resources in order to keep their seasons on track.”
My latest piece for AFP, on the different methods employed by Ligue 1 clubs to cover for players absent at the Africa Cup of Nations, can be read here.
“PARIS — Lille’s French title defence received a significant setback on Sunday as their 17-game unbeaten run came to an end in a 2-0 defeat at resurgent Marseille in which Loïc Rémy claimed both goals.”
Read my AFP match report on Marseille’s victory over Lille, as well as a round-up of all the weekend’s Ligue 1 action, here.
“PARIS — David Beckham may have elected not to sign up for the Paris Saint-Germain revolution, but new coach Carlo Ancelotti’s remit — to turn PSG into one of the world’s biggest clubs — remains the same.”
My latest feature for AFP analyses Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival at PSG and looks at his likely impact on the club’s transfer policy and the team’s tactical approach. You can read it here.