Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ligue 1 Weekend Review

Saturday's best match was the Toulouse-Auxerre tilt, although there was action (and goals galore) all over the pitch in the rest of the matches as well. This week, however, most of the scoring was done by players whose names had not been called often yet this season. The biggest surprise of the weekend came on Sunday, with Rennes topping Lyon 3-0.

Saturday, October 4th:

Grenoble 0-1 Nantes - In the upset of the day, Grenoble dominated the match with 63% of the possession yet lost on a late goal from Nantes. Although Grenoble had controlled the pitch relatively effortlessly, the best early chance of the match came when a Moullec free-kick forced Grenoble GK Wimbee into an excellent save. In the 35th minute, Djedje dribbled through the entire Nantes defense, but put his shot just wide of the post. Ten minutes after the start of the second half, his day did not improve as he picked up his second yellow card in 2 games. Nantes finally broke through in the 77th minute when Wimbee was only able to parry a blistering shot from Mareval, and Bekamenga was there to slot it home.

Le Havre 1-2 Le Mans - Le Havre scored early (Alassane, in the 13th minute), and on the first legitimate chance of the match, but it was Le Mans who dominated. Holding 60% of the possession (and also leading in fouls committed, 17-8), Le Mans responded to the goal well, bossing Le Havre around the pitch for the remainder. Le Tallec hit a thunderbolt off the crossbar early in the 2nd half, but the pressure did not pay off until the end of the match. In the 89th minute Camara sent a dangerous cross into the box, and Maiga headed it home. Thinking (and hoping fervently) that they still had secured a point, Le Havre were completely deflated when Gervinho scored in the 2nd minute of extra time to seal the win for Le Mans.

Lorient 1-2 Bordeaux - In another match that was closer than the 36%-64% possession suggested, Lorient maintained the better pace in the first half, forcing the streaking Bordeaux to play more defense than they liked. Bordeaux GK Valverde was called into action several times in the first half, and watched several other shots go just wide or barely over the bar. Offensively, Bordeaux did not take their first shot until the 34th minute. Loirent kept up the pressure in the second half, and Ciani finally broke through in the 58th minute. Apparently, this was a personal affront to Fernando, who proceeded to score a brace within a 4-minute span (66th minute, 69th minute). The score should have been 3-1, but Audard made a brilliant save off an excellent shot from Gourcuff very late in the match.

Marseill 2-1 Caen - In a contentious match, frustrated Marseille wound up sealing their first win since the end of August. The story for L'OM was Hatem ben Arfa, who (for the first time this season) truly looked like the phenom everyone has been expecting. Ben Arfa opened the scoring almost immediately, knuckling a powerful shot past Plante in the 2nd minute of the match. Unfortunately for Marseille, GK Mandanda then gave up a howler, spilling an easy through-ball right at the feet of Savidan in the 20th minute, who easily tapped the ball into the empty net. After yellow cards to Zubar (Marseille, 31st minute) and Barzola (Caen, 43rd minute), the teams went into the half tied 1-1. Marseille stepped up the pressure in the 2nd half, and were rewarded with the game-winner in the 60th minute. Ben Arfa cracked a shot off the post, and Zubar played the rebound across to Niang, who headed it home. The remainder of the match saw 4 more yellow cards, 2 of which were awarded to Ziani (66th minute, 70th minute), but Marseille held on to the win playing with 10 men for the final 20 minutes.

Nice 1-1 Sochaux - In the most even match of the day, Nice and Sochaux played to a well-deserved 1-1 draw. Nice had more first-half chances through the work of Kante and Remy, but they were unable to break through. Echouafni finally broke the deadlock in the 50th minute when he came in one-on-one on Sochaux GK Richert and put it past him. But in the 73rd minute, a poor Nice clearance fell to Birsa, who surprised Letizi with his shot.

Lille 1-0 Valenciennes - In the worst display of the day, the teams combined for 6 shots on goal and 40 fouls. Lille had the most chances in the northern derby, and they faced a demoralized Valenciennes who have now lost 4 of their last 5 minutes. Valenciennes GK Penneteau was plagued all day by extremely poor defending, and he was forced to save an own goal off Tiene in the first half. Unfortunately, the own goal was still to come, as Abardonado deflected a cross past his keeper to give Lille the win. In addition to the poor result, Valenciennes learned that defender David Sommeil, who suffered a heart attack in August, has been told he will never be able to play again.

Toulouse 1-0 Auxerre - In the match of the day, the clubs were relatively even on possesion and number of fouls committed. However, it was Toulouse who more shot (and more shots on goal), which made all the difference. The first half was characterized by tentative approaches toward goal, with only Bergougnoux (Toulouse) looking dangerous, as he hit the post in the 2nd minute and put a shot over the bar in the 20th minute. Gignac finally broke through with the winner in the 55th minute, but Pedretti almost salvaged a point late for Auxerre when he caught Carrasso with a long-range shot. The Toulouse GK was lucky to parry the ball away, and Auxerre was left with nothing.

Sunday, October 5th:

Rennes 3-0 Lyon - Perhaps feeling the effects of their Champions League matches, Lyon looked incredibly listless and Mickael Pagis turned into a one-man wrecking crew for Rennes. Lyon's best chance came off a Piquionne volley, but it was well-saved by Douchez. Pagis then made Lyon pay by opening the scoring in the 17th minute. His second goal was an empty-netter as Lloris was drawn out of position in the 56th minute. In the 57th minute, Pagis took advantage of a Kallstrom mistake and finished off his hat-trick for the stunning upset.

St. Etienne 2-0 Monaco - Befetimbi Gomis opened the socoring early, slotting home a shot in the 11th minute, and Monaco played on their heels for the remainder of the match. St. Etienne almost scored again relatively quickly, but Machado had his shot cleared off the line. Dernis, who had assisted on the first goal, finally got one of his own in the 83rd minute, ensuring the 3 points for St. Etienne. Once again, Freddy Adu got no run for Monaco.

Nancy 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain - In a match dominated by Nancy, it was PSG who got on the board early when the aggressive Hoarau slotted home a shot in the 2nd minute. Macaluso pulled Nancy even in the 34th minute, and the rest of the match was characterized by the clubs trading corners with no result.

So, after Matchday 8, the top of the table looks like this: (1) Olympique Lyonnais, 19 points on a 6-1-1 record, with a +6 goal differential; (2) Toulouse, 17 points on a 5-2-1 record, with a +2 goal differential; (3) Olympique de Marseille, 16 points on a 4-4-0 record, with a +7 goal differential; and (4) Le Mans, 14 points on a 4-2-2 record, with a +5 goal differential.


jjf3 said...

Alright NYK - umlaut (and a damn good game I hung-overly missed against Celtic), made me an Aberdeen fan, and Bigus has me checking out his beloved Canaries...

I read these every week, but short of rooting for Monaco and Adu/Bradley(OOPS!), I have no favorites. Give me a decent sentence why, and I'll have a Ligue 1 team other than Adu's latest waste of his life/talent...

The NY Kid said...

I've always been partial to Girondins de Bordeaux. They are the last team to win the Ligue 1 championship before Lyon's incredible run, winning in 1999, and they perform consistently well in the Ligue despite not having a big-name "superstar" player (although you could argue that Gourcuff will become one). Plus, they are managed by Laurent Blanc, who is one of the all-around good-guys of French footy.