Posts Tagged ‘Guillaume Hoarau’

Report: PSG sink Ajaccio to reclaim top spot in Ligue 1

“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.

Blanc’s France still searching for an identity

For a team protecting an unbeaten record that now stretches to 543 days, France will approach Wednesday night’s friendly against Germany in Bremen with a surprising degree of uncertainty.

Since going down 1-0 at home to Belarus in Laurent Blanc’s first competitive game in charge in September 2010, France have qualified for Euro 2012 – without recourse to the play-offs – and enjoyed friendly wins over England, Brazil and the United States (as well as some forgettable draws against Croatia, Chile and Belgium).

Viewed from the outside, and against a backdrop of the self-inflicted humiliation of the 2010 World Cup, Les Bleus are turning things around. Bubbling beneath the statistics, however, are a multitude of concerns about the team’s style of play and a lack of both experience and leadership within the squad, while an ongoing contract dispute between Blanc and French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët suggests Blanc’s employers remain to be convinced by the direction the team is taking.

Blanc pledged to introduced panache and risk-taking to France’s football following his appointment in the aftermath of the infamous Knysna training ground mutiny, but although France have become solid and difficult to beat, their play has not captured the imagination since the first game of their current 17-match unbeaten run – a 2-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo that came four days after the setback against Belarus.

Then, a team anchored by a midfield pairing of Yann M’Vila and Alou Diarra, driven forward by the lolloping raids of Abou Diaby and centred around the new-found efficacy of Karim Benzema had hinted at a glorious future for Blanc’s France. Now, although Benzema has gone from strength to strength at Real Madrid, the team has lost its way.

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Report: PSG stay top despite Montpellier scare

“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.

French football quotes of the year 2010

The World Cup

“As I’m an optimistic person, I’m going to say that I have a 100 per cent chance [of going to the World Cup].”
– Pride comes before a fall for Patrick Vieira

“I read the letter. I don’t think the players wrote it. It was typed out on a computer and there were no spelling mistakes.”
– French Football Federation general secretary Henri Monteil lets the world know exactly what he thinks about the intellect of the average footballer after reading the statement released by the France squad explaining their training boycott

“Go on Yoann, you’ll be alone on the pitch. Everyone will see you and you’ll be a media star.”
– What Franck Ribéry allegedly (emphasis on the allegedly) told Yoann Gourcuff on the France team bus after he threatened to break the training strike

“He sullied my name without trying to find out what happened. Lilian thinks he’s the new coach, the president of the federation and the president of the [French] Republic… Walking around with books on slavery in glasses and a hat does not turn you into Malcolm X.”
Patrice Evra on Lilian Thuram, after the France 1998 stalwart called for him to be banned from the national side for life

“They’re real clowns, these people. I’m dying with laughter!”
– Nicolas Anelka pours scorn on the unprecedented 18-match international ban handed to him by the FFF

Foreigners

“You should see him in the changing room: he sings French rap. He’s even learnt the song the Bordeaux fans chant to wind me up: ‘Oh, Diawara, go fuck yourself/You have got no loyalty!’”
Souleymane Diawara on Lucho González’s successful integration in the Marseille changing room

“The baguette. It’s amazing how good it is, the baguette.”
– Lyon’s Argentine attacking midfielder César Delgado, when asked what he would remember most fondly from his time in France

“Steve makes me laugh with his fake Marseille accent. A black guy from Normandy with a Marseille accent – it sounds wrong to be honest!”
Guillaume Hoarau upbraids former Le Havre team-mate Steve Mandanda for his efforts to blend in at Marseille

“We don’t talk. We played one year at Arsenal without talking. There were other people who didn’t talk to him either. The collective cause was more important, though, and we got on with things.”
Samir Nasri lifts the lid on his (non-)relationship with former Arsenal team-mate William Gallas

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La semaine en France: Week 12

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.

Ligue 1
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.

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Report: Nenê shines as PSG check Marseille momentum

“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain climbed to third in Ligue 1 and prevented champions Marseille from going top with a 2-1 win over their arch-rivals at Parc des Princes on Saturday.”

Read my AFP match report here.

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