Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ligue 1 Mid-Week Review

All but one of the matches during this mid-week tilt took place on Wednesday, but it was one of the clubs in the Tuesday match that takes this week's "image honors" (what, you haven't noticed that a different club logo appears each week?). Bordeaux destroyed Le Havre 4-0 to briefly go top of the table.

Tuesday, October 28th:

Bordeaux 4-0 Le Havre - In a match that pitted a club unbeaten in their last 7 (Bordeaux) against one who had lost 6 of their first 10 (Le Havre), the outcome was never truly in doubt. In the 4th minute Cavenaghi fired barely over the Havre crossbar and the pressure was on. Cavenaghi was busy again in the 15th minute, forcing Havre GK Revault into a nice save. Bordeaux finally broke through in the 30th minute when Gouffran played Bellion through, and the resulting shot deflected off a defender and into the net. Le Havre had their best chance in the 39th minute, but Faure shot wide. Bellion (once again assisted by Gouffran) struck to complete his brace in the 47th minute, but was denied his hat-trick in the 57th when Revault made another brilliant save. The rest of the match belonged to Chamakh, who hit the post and then assisted on goals from Cavenaghi (72nd minute) and Wendel (80th minute).

Wednesday, October 29th:

Caen 1-1 Nice - In another example of parity in Ligue 1, the clubs were relatively even on shots (18-17) and fouls (18-17), and the match ended in a draw. Nice had the first opportunity of the match, but Hellebuyck was denied by Caen GK Plante. Nice GK Letizi was then called upon to make saves on Savidan, and then Nivet (who sent the rebound over the bar). Savidan finally broke through in the 67th minute on a well-struck header, only to see Remy salvage a point in the 84th minute on a PK after Bamogo was brought down in the box.

Grenoble 0-0 Lille - Although Lille was clearly dominant in this match, they were unable to put the ball in the back of the net and were left with only 1 point. Lille had their first opportunity early, as Balmont struck the bar in the 4th minute. Grenoble GK Wimbee was kept extremely busy throughout the rest of the match, as he made saves on a 30-yard strike from Debuchy and a screaming Obraniak free-kick in the 26th minute. It was not until the 58th minute that Grenoble had their first chance, put Batlles put his shot right at Lille GK Malicki, who stopped Batlles again in the 80th minute to preserve the tie. Obraniak got one last chance for Lille, but Wimbee responded well once again.

Le Mans 0-2 Auxerre - Auxerre for their first win in 4 matches, and sent Le Mans to their 3rd home defeat of the season thanks to a brace from Oliech. In the 35th minute Kahlenberg sent an excellent through-ball forward and Oliech finished cleanly. Only 4 minutes later, Oliech intercepted a poor pass from Keita and did the work himself to seal the win.

Monaco 3-1 Nancy - Monaco were on a string of 5 matches without a win, but Nancy had won only 1 match all season and they showed why today. The story for Monaco was the aggressiveness of Park, who had his first shot cleared off the line early in the match. Park's second shot, in the 32nd minute, forced Nancy GK Bracigliano to give up a rebound and Nimani slotted home the second chance. Bracigliano then stopped shots from Pokrivac on either side of half-time, but the third shot was the charm as Pokrivac sent in a screamer on a free-kick in the 64th minute. Although Hadji pulled a goal back for Nancy in the 76th due to defensive sloppiness, Licata secured the 3 points for Monaco in the 87th minute. Freddy Adu watch: Languishing on the bench for the entire match.

Nantes 1-1 Marseille - Despite being dominated in shots (3-17) and possession (27%-73%), Nantes managed to hold on for 1 point. This match had a little bit of everything, as Nantes GK Heurtebis was kept busy and Nantes had a player sent off. The first real action of the match did not come until late in the first half, when a short clearance on a corner allowed Mareval to blast home a shot into the upper 90 for Nantes in the 44th minute. The second half saw Heurtebis makes saves on Ben Arfa and Kone, and then things got strange. During the last 20 minutes of the match, Marseille increased the pressure in an attempt to salvage 1 point in a match where they should have had all 3. They were rewarded in the 78th minute when Samossa played a brilliant through-ball for Kone, who left Heurtebis with no chance at a save. In the 80th minute, L'OM were given increased hope when Bekamenga, who was already on a yellow card, was sent off for a deliberate handball. Despite the 1-man advantage, Marseille could not score again, coming close only once, when Heurtebis made an acrobatic save on a Cana header to the far post.

Paris Saint-Germain 0-1 Toulouse - PSG had not lost in their last 4 matches, but an inceasingly dominant (in the Ligue) Toulouse was lucky to take the 3 points. After PSG GK Landreau came out of his 6-yard box for a corner in the 65th minute, his defender Camara sent a perfect header back into his own net. The rest of the match was characterized by poor play on both sides, with relatively few chances on goal.

Sochaux 0-2 Lyon - In another typical Lyon effort, the Ligue leaders won despite uninspired play. This match didn't get interesting until the second half, the opening goal coming from a beautiful long-range strike by Benzema in the 66th minute. Play then got somewhat chippy, with Delgado (Lyon) picking up a yellow card in the 79th minute, and Perquis (Sochaux) acquiring a yellow card in the 80th minute. Unfortunately, Sochaux also had Dalmat sent off with a straight red card in the 80th minute for a very poor challenge on Pjanic, and Perquis was sent off for his second yellow (for making an unsuitable gesture toward the referee) in the 94th minute. In between those red cards, Delgado managed to score the 2nd goal for Lyon (92nd minute), making him this week's "Goal-scorer to get carded" award winner.

Valenciennes 0-0 Rennes - Valenciennes had suffered 5 defeats in a row, but pulled off a draw against Rennes, whose GK Douchez was the busier of the two. Douchez was called upon to make a great save on a header by Bisevac early in the match, and stopped him again in the 67th minute. Valenciennes GK Penneateau was only troubled once, although the brilliant long-range strike from Lemoine crashed against the bar.

Saint-Etienne 1-4 Lorient - In another match with counter-intuitive statistics, Saint-Etienne outshot (11-5) and out-possessed (68%-32%) Lorient, but it was the latter club who made their chances count. Morel opened the scoring for Lorient in the 20th minute, but Gomis equalized in the 32nd minute when his header bounced against the crossbar and came down across the line. The rest of the scoring took place in the second half, with Robert scoring a brace (56th minute and 70th minute), and Ayew ending the scoring in the 89th minute when Saint-Etienne GK mistakenly sent the ball directly into his path for an easy finish.

So, after Matchday 11, the top of the table looks like this: (1) Lyon on 24 points from a 7-3-1 record and a +8 goal differential; (2) Bordeaux on 21 points from a 6-3-2 record and a +8 goal differential; (3) Toulouse on 21 points from a 6-3-2 record and +2 goal differential; and (4) Marseille on 20 points from a 5-5-1 record and a +7 goal differential.

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