Posts Tagged ‘Lille’

Tactics: Ligue 1’s leading lights find diamonds in the rough

James RodriguezParis Saint-Germain and Monaco may have stockpiled all the money in Ligue 1, but the playing fields of the French top flight have been awash with diamonds this season.

Over the past few months, a 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond – known as a milieu en losange in France – has become the must-have tactical system for the league’s leading teams, with Lille, Monaco and Lyon successively enjoying improved fortunes after adopting the tactic and Marseille potentially poised to follow suit.

Lille were the pioneers, with coach René Girard installing the system within weeks of his arrival from Montpellier during the summer. Having initially declared an intention to persist with the 4-3-3 formation favoured by his predecessor, Rudi Garcia, he jettisoned the tactic after only 45 minutes of the club’s first friendly match, a 3-2 win over Dijon in July.

The system he introduced was designed to get the best out of Marvin Martin, who operates in the number 10 role ahead of a three-man midfield. Once seen as France’s answer to Xavi, he endured a disappointing debut season after signing from Sochaux but has spoken positively of the “freedom” afforded him in the new system. It is a set-up with which the 26-year-old is familiar, having come to prominence at Sochaux by supplying the bullets for Brown Ideye and Modibo Maiga as the club from eastern France recorded a surprise fifth-place finish under Francis Gillot in 2011.

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Pitchside Europe: Lille slow and steady as PSG rumble by

“There are 1,001 ways to highlight the gulf in resources between PSG and their domestic rivals, but the comparison with Lille is of particular interest because the 2011 champions were expected to mount the most enduring challenge to [Carlo] Ancelotti’s men this season. Montpellier will struggle to return to last season’s heights and while Lyon and Marseille have made promising starts, both clubs are in transition and have thin squads that will feel the pinch of injuries and suspensions keenly. Lille, though, appear to be on the up. Their brand new 50,000-seater stadium has helped them to attract high-quality players such as [Salomon] Kalou and Marvin Martin, while qualification for the Champions League group phase is expected to swell the club’s carefully tended coffers by around £16 million.”

This week’s Pitchside Europe blog for Eurosport, on why Lille look like the most serious challengers to Paris Saint-Germain this season, can be read here.

Report: Ait-Fana takes Montpellier to brink of title

“PARIS — A dramatic injury-time goal from Karim Aït-Fana gave Montpellier a 1-0 win over Lille on Sunday that took the Ligue 1 leaders to within a point of their first ever French league title.”

My AFP report on Sunday’s penultimate round of Ligue 1 matches, which saw Auxerre relegated and Montpellier take a giant stride closer to the title, can be read here.

Report: Montpellier win at Rennes to close on maiden title

“PARIS — Montpellier took a significant step towards their first ever Ligue 1 title by winning 2-0 at Rennes on Monday to restore their three-point lead over Paris Saint-Germain with two games to play.”

My AFP round-up of Monday night’s Ligue 1 matches, which saw Montpellier close to within four points of the title and Auxerre sink to the foot of the table, can be read here.

Report: PSG beat Saint-Etienne to re-launch title bid

“PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain reinvigorated their Ligue 1 title challenge by winning 2-0 at home to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, cutting Montpellier’s lead at the top of the table to three points with three games to play.”

My AFP report on Wednesday’s Ligue 1 matches, which saw PSG breathe new life into the title race, can be found here.

Report: Lille sitting pretty after Hazard sinks Toulouse

“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.

Report: Lille thwarted by 10-man Rennes

“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.

Report: PSG held up by Nice after Obraniak stuns Lille

“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.

Report: Holders Lille knocked out of Coupe de France

“PARIS — Holders Lille reluctantly relinquished their grip on the Coupe de France after going down 2-1 at local rivals Valenciennes in the last 16 at a wintry Stade du Hainaut on Wednesday.”

My AFP round-up of Wednesday’s Coupe de France matches, including a shock defeat for Lille and a hard-fought win for Lyon, can be read here.

Report: Rémy brace weakens Lille’s grip on title

“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.

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