Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ligue 1 Weekend Review

The pitch at Picot for the Nancy-Nice tilt (from L'Equipe)

Mother Nature once again dominated Ligue 1, this time actually forcing the postponement of 3 matches in the north of France. Of the matches actually played, it was Bordeaux who got the week's best result, thrashing Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 to put even more pressure on Lyon.

Saturday, January 10th:

Auxerre 0-2 Marseille - Despite a visibly frozen pitch, this match went on (under protest from L'OM) and resulted in comical slipping/sliding from all of the players. Zenden had the first chance of the match for Marseille in the 12th minute, but he was stopped by Auxerre GK Riou, who stoned him again in the 37th minute. The first goal of the match came in the 31st minute when Zenden sent in a cross which was headed home by Samassa. Auxerre's first chance came in the 53rd minute when Marseille GK Mandanda saved a shot from Kitambala. The GK was also called into action several minutes later when a Kahlenberg free-kick was well-volleyed by Coulibaly, and then again when Mandanda made a superb save on a header from Niculae. Marseille sealed the 3 points in the 78th minute when Valbuena easily sent home a cross from Bonnart.

Le Havre 0-1 Toulouse - In a match where Toulouse committed 28 fouls, it was Havre who ended with 9 men on the pitch. After a YC in the 18th minute, Ait Ben Idir promptly picked up a 2nd in the 21st minute for a foul on Braaten in the box. Ligue 1-leading scorer Gignac stepped up for the PK and was promptly denied by Havre GK Revault. Just after the break Revault denied Gignac again, but things got worse for Havre in the 61st minute when Marange received his 2nd YC (also for a foul on Braaten). Toulouse didn't break through until the 80th minute, when Didot slammed home a shot from 12 yards out, but that goal was enough for the win. Toulouse could have added more, but Revault made an excellent double-save on Gignac and Braaten in stoppage time.

Lyon 1-1 Lorient - The Ligue 1 leaders have only 1 win in their last 6 matches after being held to a draw by Lorient. Their goal came in the 7th minute when Lorient GK Audard was only able to push a searing strike from Benzema as far as Ederson, who slammed home the rebound. Benzema then continued to pepper the goal with shots, but it was Lorient who broke through in the 42nd minute when Vahirua sent a cross into the near post for Abriel to put home. Minutes later Lyon GK Lloris was forced into a double-save on Gameiro and Obertan, but the rest of the match featured more pressure from Lyon through Fred and Benzema.

Monaco 1-2 Nantes - Higher temperatures in the principality than in the rest of France made for a much nicer pitch, but Monaco may wish it had snowed instead. Despite holding 67% of the possession, the club was never really in this match and needed a very late goal to even seem respectable. Nantes opened the vein early, when Tall sent in a cross in the 5th minute and Monaco GK Ruffier collided with his defender, leaving an open net for Bagayoko to finish. In the 41st minute Bagayoko sliced down the left side and played in an easy ball for Capoue to finish, giving Nantes the 2-0 lead. Bagayoko completed his Gordie-Howe hat-trick (and earned the "Goal-scorer to get carded award" for the week) in the 76th minute when he earned a YC and ran into the referee to earn an immediate RC. Licata scored the goal for Monaco in the 86th minute when a poor clearance from Tall hit him and rolled into the net. Freddy Adu watch: Not even on the bench.

Rennes 1-0 Grenoble - Rennes pushed their unbeaten streak to 18 matches and got revenge on the sole Ligue 1 club to hand them a loss this season. Grenoble started out with better pressure, as Akrour forced a save from Rennes GK Douchez in the 9th minute and then shooting over the bar in the 17th minute. The first decent effort from Rennes came in the 45th minute when Leroy forced a save from Grenoble GK Wimbee. Immediately after the start of the second-half Monaco got their goal as a poor defensive clearance fell to Sow, who dribbled into the box and shot past a flat-footed Wimbee. Rennes had chances to double their tally in the 58th minute through Lemoine, who hit the post, and in the 68th minute through Sow, who was stopped by Wimbee, but the match ended with only 1 goal.

Sochaux 1-0 Saint-Etienne - In the 11th minute Isabey sent in a vicious volley that forced an excellent save from Saint-Etienne GK Janot, but that was their only decent effort of the half. Gomis had 2 chances for Saint-Etienne, but sent them both wide, and Ilan was stopped by Sochaux GK Gavanon. The goal came in the 66th minute when Isabey sent in a corner that was headed home by Perquis. The only other action of the match came in second-half stoppage time when Bayal (Saint-Etienne) was given a straight RC for elbowing Erdinq.

Sunday, January 11th:

Bordeaux 4-0 Paris Saint-Germain - In a wintry mix, it was the club from the capital that felt the chill as Les Girondins bossed them up and down the pitch for the entirety of the match. In the 8th minute Giuly looked to put PSG up 1-0, but his shot was over the bar and the rest of the match was all-Bordeaux, all the time. Just 2 minutes later Gourcuff sent in a wonderful cross for Diawara to head home, giving Bordeaux the 1-0 lead. After constant pressure, Chalme played a wonderful ball through in the 35th minute for a brilliant one-time, half-volleyed shot from Cavenaghi. PSG only got 1 more chance to make some noise, but Sessegnon hit the post in the 60th minute. To add to their misery, Gourcuff then proceeded to abuse half of their defense for a magnificant goal in the 70th minute:

Fernando ended the destruction in the 87th minute from close range, but it was clear that PSG had no heart in the match well before then.

So, after Matchday 20 the top of the table looks like this: (1) Lyon, with 39 points on an 11-6-3 record and a +11 goal differential; (2) Bordeaux, with 38 points on an 11-5-4 record and a +16 goal differential; (3) Rennes, with 37 points on a 9-10-1 record and a +12 goal differential; and (4) Marseille, with 35 points on a 9-8-3 record and a +11 goal differential.

Lyon has 3 legitimate contenders breathing down their necks (with Toulouse and PSG not that far behind), and with the current form of the Top 3 moving in opposite directions we may see the end of Lyon's reign atop Ligue 1 if this continues.


phil said...

At this point, Adu just needs to admit defeat and come to MLS. It's becoming embarrassing, and, more than anything, the boy needs to play.

Andrew said...

Did we miss something about Adu? Like, a conspicuous lack of skill? Did he just peak? What the hell?