A weekly North American review of French Football. Ligue 1, Champions League, and UEFA Cup action.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Week of April 23-30



Ligue 1

April 28

Toulouse 1-3 PSG
Lille 0-1 Nancy
Lorient 0-0 St. Etienne
Lyon 2-1 Le Mans
Nantes 0-2 Rennes
Nice 0-0 Auxerre
Troyes 3-2 Sedan
Valenciennes 2-2 Monaco

April 29

Bordeaux 1-0 Lens
Marseille 4-2 Sochaux


Early on Saturday PSG travelled to Toulouse to try and continue their recent run of form. Their decisive 4-0 victory over Nantes last weekend put them in a much more favorable position to avoid relegation. They would need three points again here, however, and Toulouse would not be likely to go down without a fight. Rennes' victory over them last weekend had pushed them all the way down into 4th from 2nd, to their chagrin. Toulouse got off to a rollicking start just 8 minutes in when Fode Mansare's one-man effort got them in the lead. PSG were not fazed by the challenge, however, and Pegguy Luyindula, who was everywhere you wanted him to be, scored in the 32nd minute to draw things level. Edouard Cisse was the second PSG player to get his name on the board, just before half-time to swing the momentum. Toulouse tried exceptionally hard in the second half to square the scoreline. The last ten minutes of the match Toulouse had a man advantage as well, as Luyindula was sent off on a second yellow card. PSG were not to be denied, playing offensively to the end, and getting a third courtesy of Jerome Rothen in stoppage time. The win puts PSG 9 points above relegation and most likely safe, and Toulouse look to drop out of the European places with the loss.

Lille and Nancy were two teams who were sitting solidly mid-table and were unlikely to do much better this season. It was a disappointment for Lille, who had crashed out of the Champions League and looked unlikely to get into Europe next year. Nancy had gotten their 40th point two weeks ago, and then lost to Bordeaux, unable to improve upon it. They looked safe from relegation, nothing more. As it happened, this cagey match was not to go Lille's way either. Despite their scrappy play, Lille had the lesser of the possession, and Nancy seized their opportunity late in the second half. Striker Issiar Dia got his first of the year in the 75th minute to put the visitors ahead, and it turned out that it was all they needed to seal the win. Lille now slip up again, and they now appear to be playing for nothing but a mid-table end to their season.

Lorient were at home to St. Etienne in a match that meant little to the shape of the table. The two teams sat in 9th and 10th, and were likely to finish mid-table. Lorient had accomplished their goal this year of staying in Ligue 1. St. Etienne would be disappointed, as they had nearly had their hands on European spots, but a string of poor results had foiled this. Lorient had the Stade du Moustoir falling asleep once again with their cattenacio style of play, wearing St. Etienne down into a draw. A point was all either team deserved, and their table positions stay exactly the same. A predictable result from a predictable side.

Lyon surely had nothing to play for now, Toulouse's loss to Rennes last weekend has assured them of the title, their 6th in a row. Le Mans were nothing but a bit of a nuisance now to them. Le Mans had lost to Lens last weekend, and were in poor form, sitting now in 13th and dropping. Lyon absolutely dominated every facet of this match, but it still took them until 38 minutes to score, and it was Fred who did the deed. It was looking as though Le Mans had no way back due to their poor skill on the ball, but surprisingly, high scoring striker Grafite got through in the 64th minute to draw things level. A point would have been fine by Le Mans, but it was not to be. Florent Malouda got one just 4 minutes later to get Lyon three more points and continue their assault on the table. Le Mans stay in 13th, safely mid-table for this year.

The biggest of the Bretagne derbies played out at La Beaujoire-Louis-Fonteneau in Nantes, with more table implications than most matches this weekend. Nantes were very likely to be relegated now, unless some amazing luck came their way. Rennes had all to play for now that they sat in 6th on the doorstep of Europe. Rennes had played an amazing match vs. Toulouse last weekend, beating them 3-2. Nantes had all the momentum in front of the home crowd in the first half, dominating the ball possession and keeping Rennes on the back heel. A sudden explosion of energy for the visitors after the half, however, got them the win. It was John Utaka and Jimmy Briand who scored 4 minutes apart to put what is very likely the final nail in Nantes' relegation coffin. The 2-0 win gives Rennes a fighting chance at Europe now, especially since Toulouse lost again this week. They leapfrog Marseille temporarily into 5th, their best position of the season.

Auxerre were a team likely to finish just where they were, safe in mid-table, but playing Nice would not be a walk in the park. Nice were 5 points above the drop, but they still needed every point they could get. Last weekend both teams had been a part of drawn matches, but Auxerre were certainly sitting on the better record. As it happened though, Nice let this match slip through their hands, as it ended nil-nil. The result leaves Nice dangerously close to the drop, while Auxerre, in 12th, know where they will finish, and have essentially let the season slip away.

A relegation dogfight took place in Troyes, where Sedan came to visit. The winner was certainly the only team that could possibly get themselves out of the mire, and a draw would likely doom both teams. Troyes had lost to Marseille last weekend, and Sedan had drawn Nice in a match that they would have liked three points from. This unfolded to be the most entertaining match of the day, and it was Troyes first out of the box when Cedric Barbosa got his second of the year to make it 1-0. After half-time, and on the back foot a bit due to Aliou Cisse's sending off, Sedan were able to push though, and it was defender Yoann Lachor who did the deed. Ten minutes later though, Troyes had the chance to go ahead, but Gael Danic missed the penalty that Troyes had been awarded. Sedan didn't mind, they used their momentum and Joseph-Desire Job made the scoreline 1-2. However, A late brace from Troyes' Midfielder Blaise Matuidi, his first two goals of the season, got the the victory. Troyes are now three points back of Nice in 18th, ever-so-close to getting out of trouble, but the run-in will be difficult. Sedan are now likely doomed to relegation, despite their late-season push.

Valenciennes hosted Monaco in a match they had to win to stay safe above relegation. Their loss to Nancy last weekend was less than ideal for them. Monaco's 3-1 win hosting Lille was exactly what they wanted though. They were mid-table and happy to be there seeing as they had had a disastrous start to the season. A scoreless first half gave way to a much more entertaining second, as Jérémy Menez and Jan Koller scored within 20 minutes of each other to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. Undeterred, Valenciennes made a late push, and Rudy Haddad and Eric Chelle scored in the last 10 minutes of the match to get the point. Valenciennes still teeter on the brink, still without 40 points and just above relegation, Monaco are safe this season, still in 11th.

The lead match of Sunday was a big one. Bordeaux vs. Lens, two teams vying for Europe and two teams who had claimed victories last week. Bordeaux were in 3rd, one point back of Lens in 2nd, and a win here could cement a European place. Bordeaux got their goal 14 minutes in, courtesy of Ivorian midfielder Jussie. Lens did what they've been doing best, not scoring, even after Bordeaux were reduced to ten men just before halftime. Bordeaux now sit in the automatic Champions League spot, and Lens drop to 3rd, deservedly.

In 5th and 7th, respectively, sat Marseille and Sochaux, two teams that were also looking to move into European places. Marseille beat lowly Troyes last weekend, and Sochaux had drawn Lorient, a result they would like to forget. Six minutes in, the visitors were on the scoreboard when Jerome Leroy broke through. The home side were undettered, however and Lorik Cana levelled the game eight minutes later. Marseille did the damage in the second half, scoring three goals after the 70th minute - through Djibril Cisse, Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery - to put the game out of reach for Sochaux, who had to settle for the consolation of a late Julien Rodriguez own goal. The result puts Marseille in 4th, and Sochaux keep their 7th place spot.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Week of April 16-23



Ligue 1

April 18

Bordeaux 3-0 Nancy
Lyon 0-0 Rennes

April 21

PSG 4-0 Nantes
Nancy 1-0 Valenciennes
Lens 2-0 Le Mans
Marseille 2-1 Troyes
Monaco 3-1 Lille
Rennes 3-2 Toulouse
Sedan 1-1 Nice
Sochaux 1-1 Lorient

April 22

Auxerre 0-0 Lyon
St. Etienne 0-2 Bordeaux


The week's action saw two Wednesday games, the first of which was Nancy's trip to Bordeaux. Both teams had been a part of the no-goal fest of the weekend, niether able to score at all. Bordeaux had played out a draw with PSG, and Nancy with Troyes. Bordeaux were still within striking distance of Europe, while Nancy would just want to stay up at this rate. The home side was not to be disappointed on the day. Marouane Chamakh didn't even have to play through the first half before he got his brace, scoring in the 18th and 43rd minutes. With that lead, it was a bit of a doddle for Bordeaux after the half, and they were even able to poach another goal courtesy of Fernando Cavenaghi on the 55th minute. 3-0 was the final scoreline here, and Nancy drop points again and still sit in 15th. Bordeaux, with the win, move up into 4th on the day.

Lyon and Rennes met up in a clash that meant more to Rennes than the title holders. Rennes, with three points, would conceivably be in a UEFA Cup position. Lyon at home were tough though, and would be looking to cement the title once and for all. Both teams had played out boring matches the weekend previous, with Lyon scoring once, and Rennes not at all. This one was a snooze-fest as well, and nil-nil the final result. The first and second rated defenses in the league shut each other down to make for a uninteresting spectacle to be sure. The draw means that Lyon's title is put on hold until the weekend at least, and Rennes now sit in 9th.

PSG Hosted Nantes in a match that both teams needed points from in order to stay up. A PSG loss could mean they would get dragged back into the relegation mire, and Nantes needed all three to rise above their current 20th position. Last weekend both teams were part of nil-nil draws, just like almost every other team. Fortunately for the spectators, Pauleta's 17th minute goal made sure that that would not be the result this week. Midfielder Jerome Rothen made the score 2-0 before halftime. Nantes could not get anything going in the second half either, with Pauleta being their nemesis again in the 65th minute, and Peguy Luyindula scored one minute later to seal Nantes' fate at the bottom of the table. 4-0 was the final, and PSG save themselves from the relegation mire for one more week.

Nancy played their third match in a week when Valenciennes came to visit them Saturday afternoon. They hadn't been able to score a goal in either match, losing to Bordeaux and drawing with Troyes did little to improve their fortunes in the dangerous bottom half of the table. Valenciennes had done nothing but keep Marseille to a draw last weekend, and they were sitting just one place about Nancy in the standings. This was to be the home side's day, to be sure, even though they couldn't get much going offensively. The shots on goal were skewed in Nancy's favor 15 to 5, but the difference in this match was when Nancy was awarded a penalty on the 40th minute, which Benjamin Gavanon gladly converted. It was all Nancy needed, and 1-0 was the final. The Lorraine side move into 14th, and Valenciennes drop to 16th, still in relegation danger.

Le Mans took a trip to the Felix-Bollaert in Lens to face a team that had been nothing short of awful over the last month. Lens had dropped out of their Automatic European place due to the fact that they couldn't get a proper result, and last week played out a nil-nil draw in Nantes. Le Mans had done the same against Rennes, and they now sat in 11th. It looked as though this match was headed to the doldrums as well, despite some quality balls in. After the break, however, things opened right up and Eric Carriere scored his first of the season to give Lens the lead. Le Mans held tight and scrappy, but Seydou Kieta sealed the deal in the 89th minute to give Lens the win and lift them back into second place. Le Mans with the loss drop to 12th.

Pathetic Marseille had drawn Valenciennes last week, and were looking to maybe get three points against lowly Troyes, but it was a tough thing to ask. Troyes were in deep and could possibly get themselves out of their 18th place position with all three points here. Marseille were sitting in 6th, but could get back into European places with a win. Marseille were the better team on the day, but were still locked down well by a stingy Troyes defense for the first half. Marseille's Djibril Cisse got the ball rolling early in the second, but half an hour later Troyes' Zlad Jaziri scored to give the visitors hope for a point. Marseille were resilient though, and Modeste M'Bami scored 6 minutes later to get the win for the home side. Marseille now sit in 4th, and Troyes add to their relegation woes.

The Stade Louis II In Monte Carlo was the scene when Lille travelled south to the Riviera to meet up with Monaco. Monaco had drawn with Lorient last weekend and sat in 13th on the day. Lille were one of the few teams to win a match last weekend, they took Sochaux 2-0 and were sitting in 7th. Monaco came out flying, but it took them until the stroke of halftime to score. It was Camel Meriem who did the deed in the 42nd minute, and could have made it 2-0 when Monaco were awarded a penalty, but he hit the crossbar. Uplifted going into the second, Monaco continued to fly, and Sylvain Monsoreau put one away in the 68th, followed closely by Jérémy Menez less than 10 minutes later. Lille's only goal came too late, when striker Abdul Kader Keita made the score 3-1. The points dropped put a big dent in Lille's European hopes, and Monaco now sit in 11th.

About the only team on form in France these days was Toulouse, and they took the trip to Rennes to meet up with a team that hadn't been able to score once this past week against Le Mans or Lyon. Toulouse were in 2nd place now after stringing together results and taking the initiative. They could now see Europe looming, and would be unlikely to drop many points with Lens still nipping at their heels. From the get-go, this match had everything going for it, despite a tense opening half-hour. Toulouse were the first to score when high-flying midfielder Achille Emana got his 9th of the year. Rennes were undeterred, pelting the Toulouse net after the half and bossing the ball possession stats. Jimmy Briand leveled things off when Rennes were awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute, and Sylvain Marveaux got the home side one-up 12 minutes later. It was short-lived, however, as Jimmy Briand headed the ball into his own net trying to defend a Toulouse corner. Rennes waited until the stroke of time to net the winner, but they did, courtesy of Bruno Cheyrou. Rennes now move themselves into 6th, flying high for the first time this year. Toulouse drop to third courtesy of Lens' victory.

Another team that needed three point desperately was Sedan. They could conceivably get out of their 19th place and into somewhere a bit safer with a win here, and Nice was a team they could do it against, despite Nice's win against St. Etienne last Sunday. Nice were sitting dangerously in 16th, just a few points above the drop. This one was tense right down to the last 2 minutes of the game. The nil-nil scoreline held until the 88th minute, when Nice, who were on the back foot for most of the match, were awarded a penalty. Bakari Koné was happy to convert, and it looked as if it was all over for Sedan. An unbelievable stroke of luck happened for Sedan in injury time, however, when Nice's Olivier Echouafni tried to block a half-saved effort from his keeper but only succeeded in pushing the ball into his own goal. The result is not when either team would have wanted, as it still leaves them in dangerous territory as far as relegation is concerned.

Sochaux needed a win when they had Lorient at home. They had lost to Lille the weekend previous, and the loss put them in a place below the European spots where they had just been. Lorient, the masters of the nil-nil draw, were sitting mid-table and boring everyone to death with defensive football. This match was not to be the exception, except it had goals. Lorient played dull football for the first half, but were able to overcome the Sochaux defense in the 57th minute, when their big striker André-Pierre Gignac got one for the visitors. Sochaux dominated the possession stats, and their ball control got them a goal eventually, when Sebastian Grax scored in the 73rd to level it off. It was all either team could muster, and The shared points mean that Sochaux now sit in 7th, and Lorient remain in 10th.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Week Of April 9-16



Ligue 1

April 14

Bordeaux 0-0 PSG
Le Mans 0-0 Rennes
Lille 2-0 Sochaux
Lorient 0-0 Monaco
Nantes 0-0 Lens
Toulouse 2-0 Auxerre
Troyes 0-0 Nancy
Valenciennes 0-0 Marseille

April 15

Nice 2-1 St. Etienne
Lyon 1-0 Sedan


DISCLAIMER: This was one of the most boring weekends of French Football all season. 6 nil-nil draws and 8 goals scored over ten matches. You do the match and decide whether you want to be as bored reading my blog as the fans were in every stadium in the country.

PSG were coming of two big wins in a row when they travelled to Bordeaux to hopefully get a taste of three points again to keep them out of relegation danger. Last weekend they had overcome Le Mans at home 2-1 and gotten themselves into 16th place. Bordeaux had travelled to Auxerre only to manage a dull scoreless draw. They had dropped to 7th and were looking unlikely to get back into Europe. Unfortunately this is just the first of several nil-nil draws that I have to write about this week. Neither team had many quality chances but PSG were slightly better on the day despite less shots and less possession. THe result leaves PSG still just 3 points above the relegation zone, and Bordeaux are 7th on 46 points.

Le Mans had dropped points to PSG last week, and now sat in 12th on 42 points. They were looking solidly mid-table, and hosting Rennes would be tough, as Rennes would want the three points on this visit. The Visitors were only 4 points back of Europe, and would be wishing that they had been able to be more consistent earlier in the season.As it turned out, neither teams cared much about the points, as Le Mans made it the second week in a row without scoring, and Rennes missed out on a possible UEFA cup place by giving up 2 points. Both teams played a lot of keep-ball, and were justly rewarded with the share of the spoils. Le Mans are now 11th, and Rennes 9th.

Lille were at home to Sochaux, a team that were on fine form and now sat in the 4th place UEFA Cup spot. Lille had dropped off and had barely won a match since they dropped out of the Champions League at the hands of Manchester United, they were in 8th and falling fast. The match was rather dull for the first half, but Lille found their legs in the second. A goal from Nicolas Fauvergue in the 49th minute got things rolling, and Kevin Mirallas got his first of the season, beating Teddy Richert in the 66th minute. 2-0 was all that Lille needed to be one of the few teams to take all 3 points this week, and they move all the way to 6th, and Sochaux drop into 4th.

Lorient played host to Monaco in a battle that meant very little in terms of the end of the season. Both teams were likely to sit above the drop, mid-table and safe. Lorient had squeaked out a 1-0 result at Nancy last week, and Monaco hadn't even managed a goal against Troyes in their goalless draw. No surprise then that the Stade du Moustoir was the venue for another snooze-fest that left the fans wondering why they even bothered to show up anymore. Lorient were the better team, but that's not saying much. Monaco couldn't even put a shot on net despite having more possession. The result places Monaco in 13th, and Lorient in 10th.

At the heart of the relegation battle was Nantes, the team in 20th place. They had to play host to Lens, who although in 2nd, were on their worst form of recent memory. Both teams were in equally bad form, but Nantes needed the points much more desperately, and would play with desperation. This match had nothing at all going for it. Lens were absolutely dire, and their 5 shots couldn't even hit the target. Nantes did hit the target, but had no finishing. 0-0 was the predictable scoreline, and now Lens, who should be playing much better, drop to 3rd and out of the automatic Champions League spot, and Nantes stay in the basement on 30 points. A dire, dire result for both teams.

Auxerre took the trip to Toulouse to play a match that would surely not be easy, The hosts were challenging to make the 2nd place spot with a win here. 10th place was about good enough for Auxerre this season, they had been inconsistent and were deserving of their table position. Toulouse bossed the match, to the delight of the home fans. Cameroon international Achille Emana got his 7th of the year just 7 minutes in, giving the home side an early advantage. Despite dominating possession, Auxerre gave up another goal 20 minutes later, and Toulouse cruised to a 2-0 win. The result is great for Toulouse, as they now sit in 2nd place on 52 points, looking for Europe. Auxerre drop to 12th, but are still likely safe with their 43 points.

Troyes were sitting on 31 points in 18th place. The could possibly lift themselves out of danger for the time being if They could pull one over on AS Nancy at the Stade de l`Aube. Neither team were able to buy a win in recent memory, and Nancy were anything but safe in 15th place. As it turned out, this week neither team was able to win either, as they played to a nil-nil draw, just like nearly everyone else. The foul count is what set this match apart though, with 54 fouls committed total. Shots were at a premium, which is to be expected in a match so tight. The draw means that the teams keep their respective table positions, and are still in danger of relegation.

Marseille travelled north to Valenciennes knowing that with a win they could possibly make their mark on the European spots again. They sat in 5th, and Valenciennes sat in 14th. Valenciennes were still not safe themselves, but three points would go a long way towards ensuring that they would stay up. As both teams were patently pathetic, they had to make it a nil-nil draw so I would have to write about their boring matchup. Neither team was quality, but at least they had a few shots on the net. The result means that the teams stay 5th and 14th.

Sunday's first match saw St. Etienne make the trip to Nice. The teams were working with opposing fortunes, St. Etienne were in 6th just below Europe, and Nice sat only 2 points above the drop and could ill afford to lose here. A drawn first half gave way to a second half that St. Etienne began brightly by having Lamine Diatta score in the 47th minute. A late surge by the home side, however, was St. Etienne's doom. David Bellion scored in the 70th minute to draw things level, and then was asked to convert a penalty a few minutes later. 2-1 was the final, and the result puts Nice in 16th, one place safer from relegation. St. Etienne drop all the way to 8th on the day.

First vs. 19th? That's what Lyon vs. Sedan would be, and if any team had the power to surprise, it was Sedan, who had been playing good football just a little too late in the season. Lyon had nothing to worry about, the title was all theirs, with no team able to make a good challenge to their dominance. It was a tight match, but all it took for Lyon to take the points was a goal from rare starter Israeli striker Hatem Ben Arfa just before halftime. Sedan stay in 19th, and Lyon stay in 1st, a predictable result.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Week of April 2-9



Ligue 1

April 7

Valenciennes 0-0 Lyon
Nancy 0-1 Lorient
Auxerre 0-0 Bordeaux
Monaco 0-0 Troyes
PSG 2-1 Le Mans
Rennes 1-0 Lens
Sochaux 1-1 Nice
St. Etienne 2-1 Nantes

April 8

Sedan 0-2 Toulouse
Marseille 4-1 Lille


The early Saturday matchup saw league leaders and likely winners Lyon travel north to Valenciennes. Lyon had the week off last week when the League cut back on the fixtures, and Valenciennes had had a fruitful trip to Lille where they got themselves out of a bit of a jam by beating them 2-0. This afternoon's match was a dud though, as a defensively minded Valenciennes held Lyon to a 0-0 draw. Lyon had nothing on the day, and looked as if they could care less about the result. They still sit on top comfortably however, and Valenciennes earn a much-needed point. The northern side sit in 14th on the day.

Nancy were host to Lorient, who had finally played a meaningful match the weekend previous and beaten Marseille 2-1. Nancy were in 14th, and needed results to stay out of trouble at the bottom of the table. Last week they also had a break due to the league schedule changes. The home side were absolutely dominant in every respect, pelting the Lorient net constantly but getting nothing to show for it. They were desperately unlucky to have a penalty go against them and just one of Lorient's shots made it to the back to the net. 1-0 was the final score, and the result leaves Nancy in 15th and Lorient in 10th.

Bordeaux were well-rested after their week off, and now they had to travel to Auxerre, a team that had been stringing together results of late, keeping themselves out of relegation danger and now sitting in 10th. Bordeaux needed points to roll back into the European spots, where Sochaux and Toulouse now sat. A lack of finishing despite shots galore meant that the only interesting thing to come from this match was Benoit Cheyrou's sending off in the second half. Bordeaux could not take advantage of their extra man, and they sit in 6th still. Auxerre sit in 9th on 43 points.

Monaco's draw with Nice last weekend was a fine enough result for them, they now sat in 13th, 9 points above the relegation spots. They hosted Troyes, who had had the bad luck of losing 1-0 at home to Sochaux, which dropped them into 19th. Troyes were certainly the more desperate team on the day. Desperation doesn't make for good football all the time though, and Troyes showed why they were in the predicament they were in by barely registering on the pitch. This one also finished 0-0, and the point allowed Troyes to move up a place temporarily, and Monaco remain in 13th.

PSG had finally gotten a positive result against second-place Lens last weekend and the three points were enough to move them into 17th, but still just 1 point above the drop. Le Mans had only lost one of their previous 5, and would like to stay in contention for Europe as they were only 4 points back of those places. Last week's draw with Auxerre had kept them on pace. Le Mans opened things up in the 30th minute when Grafite scored on the counterattack following a PSG corner. The home side battled back, however, and after the break came back and Pegguy Luyindula got a rare goal to tie things up. The comeback was completed when Amara Diané got his 6th of the year to net the winner. 2-1 was the final score, and PSG got the result they needed to stay out of danger for one more week. PSG now sat in 16th, and Le Mans in 12th.

Lens were a bit of a beleaguered team when they went to Rennes Saturday afternoon. They had lost 2 in a row and had only won one in 5. They still sat in second, but were making it easy for Lyon to run away with the title. Rennes were sitting in 11th, but were coming off a break from league competition, and certainly had the better form and fresher legs. It wasn't a game with many chances for either team, but half and hour in, Rennes' John Utaka got his 8th of the year and put the home side up 1-0. It turned out to be all they would need. Lens were poor again on the day, and they were looking like they might drop out of their automatic Champions League position. Rennes continue to chase Europe hopefully, and sat only 3 points back of a UEFA Cup spot in 8th.

Sochaux were now joyously in 3rd place, and would now need to keep winning if they wanted to stay up there. Their win against Troyes had been most fortuitous, and this week's opponents were in danger of suffering the same fate as their bottom feeding brethren. Nice had managed a draw with Monaco last week, but still sat in 16th, dangerously close to the drop. Sochaux dominated the play, but it was Nice who drew first blood, but not until the 68th minute when David Bellion scored. It was not to last, however, as Sochaux' Beli-Moumouni Dagano levelled things off 5 minutes later to snatch the point. Sochaux still chase Europe with the result, and Nice now sit only one point above the drop, dangerously.

St. Etienne hosted Nantes in a clash that Nantes needed points out of badly. They had lost to Sedan last week and enabled them to move out of 20th, and now they sat in their place at the bottom. St. Etienne were also coming off a loss to Toulouse, who had beaten them 1-0 and driven them into 7th place. The Stade Geoffrey-Guichard erupted 27 minutes in when Vincent Hognon struck first for the home side. 2 minutes later, however, Mamadou Diallo scored for the visitors to give them a spark of life. It was short-lived, and Bafetimbi Gomis got his 9th of the year to put the home side up again. Nothing much happened in the second half until St. Etienne midfielder Mouhamadou Dabo was sent off. Nantes couldn't take advantage though, and they continue to languish at the bottom of the table. St. Etienne move up to 5th on the day.

Shock horror, Sedan were finally on form! Their win over Nantes last week had been their most crucial one in recent memory and they now saw just one point below PSG in 17th place. They hadn't lost in 6 matches and were on a roll. Toulouse were a tough opponent, however, and they were now competing for a European place sitting in 4th on the day. The sides were very evenly matched for most of the match, and the deadlock lasted until the 78th minute, when Toulouse's Paulo Cesar struck for the visitors. Albin Ebondo got Toulouse's second just a few minutes from time to doom Sedan back into relegation danger. Toulouse now sit in 3rd, their best position in a long while.

Both Marseille and Lille knew that they were underachieving, and they both thought they deserved higher table positions than they had. Marseille had dropped points to Lorient, and Lille to Valenciennes the week previous. The teams sat in 8th and 6th, respectively. The visitors were doomed from nearly the start when Lille's Brazilian defender Emerson was sent off in the 8th minute, giving away a penalty which Mamadou Niang then converted. The referee then saw fit to even the score 4 minutes later when Lille were awarded a penalty which Bastos took and scored. Ten men was not kind to Lille, however, and Renato Cevilli scored before and after the break to make the score 3-1. Mamadou Niang scored again in injury time to destroy Lille's day completely.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Weeks Of March 19 - April 2



Ligue 1

March 31

Lorient 2-1 Marseille

April 1

Nantes 0-1 Sedan
Le Mans 2-2 Auxerre
Lille 0-2 Valenciennes
Nice 1-1 Monaco
Toulouse 1-0 St. Etienne
Troyes 0-1 Sochaux
Lens 1-2 PSG


After the European break the French league got back into the swing of things by having a restrained matchweek, giving a couple teams a break. Poor Lorient had only managed three nil-nil draws in the last few weeks, and now they had the chance to bore the fans at the Stade du Moustoir again by trying to hold Marseille to a draw. Marseille had moved into 8th when they blew Nice out of the water last matchday 3-0, and would certainly fancy a chance to beat the 13th place side. It looked as though it was going to be par for the course as the first half unfolded very slowly. What chances there were ended up going Marseille's way until after half-time when Lorient's Rafik Saifi and Ulrich Le Pen got themselves on the scoresheet for the first time in over a month. 2-0 looked like the final scoreline until a rash challenge in the box on Toifilou Maoulida got Marseille a penalty, which Djibril Cisse took and converted. It was too little too late unfortunately for Marseille, and they dent their European hopes again, moving to 8th.

A relegation dogfight ensued when Sedan made the trip up to Nantes to hopefully continue their scrappy form of stealing results from clubs that didn't expect it. Nantes would not take them lightly now, as every result meant that they could get out of relegation form. Nantes sat in 18th on the day, and Sedan stayed in 20th with the possibility of leapfrogging PSG, Nantes AND Troyes into 17th with a win depending on those teams results. The numbers favoured Nantes, but a terrible blunder by goalkeeper Barthez, bumbling a cross, ended up being the difference here. The mistake in the 61st minute turned David Ducourtioux' cross into a strike, and that was all Sedan needed to move off the bottom of the table for the first time in anyone's memory. Nantes are in trouble now again, sitting in 19th on the day.

Auxerre took the 300km trip to Le Mans to meet up with a team who dominated Lille 2-0 to add to that team's woes and move into 9th place to boot. Auxerre were having a rich vein of form as well, doing well to lift themselves into 10th after being on the brink of relegation territory earlier in the season. Both teams looked likely to finish mid-table, but mere points kept them from the top spots. Le Mans looked like they were on their way to the victory when they came out flying after the break, Ismael Bangoura and Tulio de Melo pounded goals in in the 46th and 52nd minute. Auxerre took full advantage of Le Mans' complacency however, and Kanga Akale showed his worth again by putting a glimmer of hope in the visitors' eyes. The spring in their step preceded defender Younes Kaboul' second goal of the year to draw things level and allow Auxerre to share the points. The teams now sit in 9th and 10th, respectively, but neither one makes a case for moving into Europe with the result.

Lille were at home to a Valenciennes side that were just asking for a hiding after playing boring football for several weeks straight. Their derby rivals Lille were ready to pounce after a loss to Auxerre, and Valenciennes had only managed a nil-nil draw with Lorient, who have been poor as well. Boring football was exactly what happened at the Lille Metropole, until the 78th minute when, surprise, surprise, Valenciennes' Geoffrey Doumeng broke the deadlock and made it 1-0. Eric Hassli sealed Lille's fate when he got his first goal in 13 games played as time expired. The result puts Valenciennes on slightly surer footing, and Lille miss out on much-needed points if they want to qualify for the Champions League again.

The only non-French side in the French league made their way across the Riviera sands to Nice, where the home side had been assaulted by their other derby rivals 3-0 in their last match. Monaco were sitting in 12th despite their win against Nantes. Nice striker Lillian Laslandes scored his third for the club this season in just the 11th minute to put the hosts 1 up. After a tense 40 minutes Nice were reduced to ten men when Cyril Rool was sent off in the 56th. That was all Monaco needed to get a little space for Jaroslav Plasil to draw things level in the dying minutes and get their share of the points. Both sides would have wanted all three points, but Nice needed it much more to stave off relegation.

A potentially decisive match unfolded at the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse when St. Etienne came around. The teams had only one point between them and a win potentially could move them into European contention. Toulouse were disappointed when they lost 4-2 to Sochaux in a rather entertaining match, and St. Etienne beat Troyes 3-1. 72 minutes of trying unfolded, but there was nothing doing until Toulouse striker Johan Elmander made his mark on the scoreboard. It was all the hosts had on the day, but it was all they needed as well. Toulouse win 1-0 and move back into European competition, albeit possibly temporarily.

In was a must win for Troyes to be sure when they hosted Sochaux in a match that had big implicatios for both sides. Tryoes wanted to stay away from Relegation and Sochaux wanted to keep pace with the other teams hunting European places. Despite being dominated statistically, Sochaux were able to sneak in a goal just before halftime when Romain Pitau got his first of the season. Sochaux keeper Teddy Richert had to look sharp to keep the scoreline 1-0, but he did. Tensions ran particularly high at the end of the match as Phillipe Brunel and Demetrius Ferreira were both red-carded for fighting in injury time. The result is dire for Troyes, as they now drop into relegation territory and allow Sedan to get out. Sochaux move into the European places thanks to Lille's loss to Valenciennes.

Lens were in a seriously good position, 2nd in the league despite their loss to Auxerre two weeks ago, and they would relish the chance to add another nail to PSG's coffin in front of the home fans. PSG had a couple of results since Paul Le Guen's arrival from Glasgow, but had slumped yet again and were looking ready for the drop. Their loss to Rennes had dropped them to 19th, their worst position yet, and their two relegation rivals were doing battle on the day as well. PSG scored all the goals in this match, even though the tide was skewed against them. Amara Diane scored just 2 minutes in to give PSG the lead. PSG helped out Lens' cause by deflecting a free kick into their own net in the 52nd minute, but were able to get back on top 20 minutes later when when Sylvain Armand converted for the winner. PSG now climb out of the relegation zone, but barely, and sit one point above the drop. Lens are still in second, but with their losing streak, for how long?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Week of March 12-19



Ligue 1

March 17

Sochaux 4-2 Toulouse
Nancy 0-3 Lyon
Lille 0-2 Le Mans
Marseille 3-0 Nice
Monaco 2-1 Nantes
Sedan 1-1 Bordeaux
St. Etienne 3-1 Troyes
Valenciennes 0-0 Lorient

March 18

Auxerre 1-0 Lens
Rennes 1-0 PSG


Sochaux had the pleasure of hosting Toulouse in the earlier match on Saturday at the Geoffrey-Guichard. Both teams were in great table positions, with Toulouse in 4th and Sochaux just three points behind in 6th. Last week had seen Sochaux unable to score away from home at Bordeaux, and Toulouse would have liked something more than the one point they earned against Monaco. Sebastien Grax scored for Sochaux 22 minutes in, his 2nd of the season. That goal unleashed a torrent of Sochaux goals that saw Michaël Isabey, Jerome Leroy, and Grax's second of the match in the next 40 minutes. Socaux scored 4 times in a total of 7 shots on the day. Toulouse, stunned, were good to score two in the last two minutes of the match. Fode Mansare and Achille Emana scored to make the final score 4-2. Sochaux now sit in 5th, tied on points for the European places. Toulouse were more unfortunate, as their result drops them down to 6th.

The term "The Doldrums" may well apply to where AS Nancy Lorraine's season has gone since their high point in second place back on October. They now sat in 13th, and lost to a dismal Nantes side last weekend. Lyon were another team in trouble, they were crawling to the finish line and would be thankful for the 13 point buffer they had over Lens in 1st place. Lyon's draw with Marseille was a result they would like to forget here. As it happened, Nancy were unable to make anything happen on this day either. Lyon played a bit sluggishly for most of the first half until Milan Baros broke through in the 36th minute. Despite having the lead, Lyon waited until the 76th minute, when Kim Kallstrom scored, followed closely by a well taken Fred strike. The 3-0 win leaves Lyon 16 points clear, but Nancy now drop a place into 14th.

Last week Lille played to a boring nil-nil draw at Lorient, something the Lorient fans were used to, but not so much the Lille fans. The result left them still in 3rd, but now 6 points back of Lens. Le Mans would see this as an opportunity to grab some points, especially after they held off St. Etienne in a tight 2-1 victory. Le Mans were now in 9th, and were making a little push for the end of the season. Les Dogues put forward a big first half push, and they tried for goal 17 times on the match, but could not convert. Le Mans were a little more accurate, but not until the dying minutes, when Ismael Bangoura and Grafite broke down the Lille defence to get Le Mans the three points, denting Lille's European hopes a little. Lille drop into the 4th place UEFA Cup spot, and Le Mans keep on rolling.

Marseille hadn't been able to beat fierce rivals Lyon last weekend, and their lack of confidence was beginning to show. 8th in the table was not where they wanted to be, and they would hope that the new Canadian money being thrown their way would help next year's campaign out considerably. Nice were a potential banana peel for Marseille at this point, because their 16th place table position was misleading. This Nice side were in a fierce battle to stay up and were unbeaten in 6. Marseille were up for this match, and Mamadou Niang popped in a goal 6 minutes in, followed 10 minutes later by midfielder Renato Civelli. Niang kept the ball rolling into the net just before halftime to get a well-deserved brace and shutting Nice out in the first half. Nice had nothing against their derby rivals, but stay in 16th place. Marseille end a 7 game winless streak with a big win.

Monaco were beginning to slow after a run that had taken them mid-table after their abysmal start this season. Their trip to Toulouse had resulted in a 1-1 draw, and they slipped into 14th, 6 points above the drop. Nantes' visit was important for them, because even though they beat Nancy 2-1 last weekend, they still sat in 18th only one point above PSG and could get themselves out of relegation territory with a win. Nantes looked to be getting things done early on when Frëdëric Da Rocha got his 3rd of the season, but Monaco's Diego Perez and Gael Givet had something to say about that before the end of the half. The teams were very evenly matched on the day, but Nantes could not get anything back in the second half, and Monaco took the points, moving them up into an impressive 10th place. Nantes still sat in 18th, but a win from PSG would drive them deeper.

Bordeaux' trip down to the Stade Louis-Dugauguez would be to meet up with a team that had been able to make things happen lately, despite their terrible season, Sedan. Bordeaux would want to do better than Lens against this team and lift themselves up into Europe again. Sedan could conceivably leapfrog PSG and get off the bottom of the table with three points, but it was certainly a tall order. Perennial Bordeaux scorer and good old boy Jean-Claude Darcheville netted the first of the match in the 28th minute, but Sedan were crappy and Mansour Boutabout got one back just after the half. A vital point gained against another top club leaves Sedan happy, and Bordeaux move up into 3rd on the day.

St. Etienne had been battling with themselves a bit since their tumultuous match with Lyon a few weeks ago, and last week things got worse when they lost to Le Mans and dropped to 7th. Troyes were fighting for their Ligue 1 lives, and would not want to give up anything in this match, siting just a mere point above the drop after losing to Valenciennes 3-1. The home side shook off their shackles right quick when Pascal Feindouno scored in the 2nd minute, dominating the visitors. Bafetimbi Gomis continued the high in the 17th minute, and even when Troyes' Benjamin Nivet was awarded a penalty to make it 2-1, the home side came back right after the half when Fredy Guarin was credited with his first of the year. The 3-1 win keeps St. Etienne in 7th, and Troyes remain balanced precariously in 17th.

Lorient were playing boring football when they made the trip to Valenciennes to meet a team that had gotten back their scoring touch against Troyes last weekend. Lorient had drawn 0-0 with Lille and now sat in 12th, and Valenciennes knew they could drop back into relegation if any teams below them had any luck. Unfortunately for the teams and most of all the fans, this match was doomed as well, ending nil-nil. Lorient continue being pathetic bums, giving me nothing to write about, and Valenciennes don't help their relegation fight much, still sitting in 15th.

Sunday's first match was in Auxerre, where the home team was on a bit of a high after beating PSG 1-0 last weekend and rising into the top half of the table. Lens were a little more unfortunate, drawing with Sedan when they could have been gaining ground on struggling Lyon. The home side went out looking to find the net, which they did in the 15th minute when Thomas Kahlenberg got it right. Lens were not themselves at all on the match, and did little to liven up a humdrum affair at the Abbe-Deschamps. Only 4 shots on net were registered by the visitors, but the finishing was not there. The 1-0 result leaves Lens in the 2nd place, but only 1 point up on Bordeaux now. Auxerre move up to 10th,

Rennes were on a rather poor run of form when PSG came to visit Orient Road on Sunday, and last week's draw with Nice meant they now slipped into 11th on the day. PSG were stuck in the mire but good now, and a loss here, like their loss to Auxerre last weekend, would spell serious disaster for the capital club, now sitting in 19th. A scrappy, evenly matched game ensued, but it was Rennes who finally broke the deadlock when Jimmy Briand scored in the 75th minute. PSG had nothing to counter with, and with Bernard Mendy's sending off in the 90th minute, they lost again, and now sit just one point above 20th place Sedan. Rennes move back to 11th, 3 points back of a European place.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Week of March 5-12



UEFA Champions League

March 6

Lyon 0-2 Roma

March 7

Manchester United 1-0 Lille

Ligue 1

March 10

Toulouse 1-1 Monaco
Bordeaux 2-0 Sochaux
Le Mans 2-1 St. Etienne
Lorient 0-0 Lille
Nantes 2-1 Nancy
Nice 1-1 Rennes
Troyes 1-3 Valenciennes

March 11

Lens 1-1 Sedan
PSG 0-1 Auxerre
Lyon 1-1 Marseille


Lyon were back at the Stade Gerland with everything to play for against AS Roma. The 0-0 draw in Rome was a perfect place to be for them and they had it all to do at home. Lyon came out in good form, with Juninho putting the fear of God into Roma with a few well taken free-kicks. But it was Roma's talisman, Francesco Totti, who drew first blood in the 22nd minute. While Lyon were trying to regroup, however, Alessandro Mancini got Roma's second to make it 2-0. Despite a few tactical substitutions, Gerard Houllier's side were unable to get anything happening, even though they had the bulk of the shots in the match. Roma defended well, and in the end they knocked out the French champions by an aggregate of 2-0.

Lille, for all they whined and complained after their home loss to Manchester United, had to come up with 2 goals at Old Trafford to advance to the next round. UEFA had rejected their appeals over and over again, and United were not rising to their bait. As tough as this match was, Lille had the advantage in many aspects of this game, most conspicuously shots on goal. However, the only goal of the game came from Henrik Larsson in his last match for Manchester United. A fitting exit for a brilliant striker, and United poach another one on the trot. Lille go back to focusing on their league form, where they sit in 3rd.


Toulouse were the early match on Saturday when they had Monaco visit them. Both teams had been part and parcel of dull nil-nil draws against Bordeaux and Valenciennes, respectively. Toulouse sat in 4th coming into this one, in the UEFA cup place, and Monaco, despite a loss, a win, and a draw in their last 3 matches, were still a quality side. A side that needed a win, now sitting in 14th. Toulouse had Monaco on their back heel for the entire first half, and looked the more dangerous side throughout. A dangerous free kick enabled Jérémy Mathieu to start off the scoring as Toulouse went one up. A critical second half substitution for Monaco proved fortuitous as Jan Koller scored his 6th of the year to level things off. In the end, the teams shared the points, to the benefit of Monaco first and foremost.

Off-and-on Bordeaux hosted Sochaux with both teams sitting on 40 points, and within striking distance of Europe. Bordeaux were part of the weekend of draws when they drew Toulouse 0-0, and Sochaux had a disappointing loss at home to Nantes, a team that should have been a pushover. This day belonged to Bordeaux, and they delighted the home fans when Johan Micoud scored at the stroke of halftime to give them the lead. Sochaux had nothing on the day, and after being on the back foot for most of the match, they had to watch as Bordeaux' Fernando Cavenaghi got his first of the season in the 90th minute to put the nail in the coffin. The result allowed Bordeaux to leapfrog Sochaux, tied now for a European place again.

St. Etienne were happy to go on the road to Le Mans and forget the crowd trouble that marred last week's match against Lyon at their home ground. Lyon had walked over them by a scoreline of 3-1, and the fans had gotten rather restless, with injury and nonsense ensuing. Le Mans' trip to Nancy had been unsuccessful as well, but they had come away with at least a point, and were now sitting in 11th. Le Mans midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur made his first contribution to the scoresheet this season to put the home side ahead in the 43rd minute. On a high after the half, Le Mans' Ismail Bangoura got his 13th goal of the season to make it 2-0. St. Etienne had nothing to respond with until Bafetimbi Gomis scored in the 82nd minute, but it was too late for the visitors. Final score, 2-1.

Lorient had been holding steady for most of the campaign, but had been a bit of a slump of late that saw them now sitting in 13th, only 5 points above the relegation zone. Their home match against Lille would be less than a foxtrot, as Lille would be hungry for Europe again after being dumped out over the week by Manchester United. Lille had met up with Troyes and destroyed them in the league last weekend 4-0, and were still in a healthy 4th position. This match had nothing in it, however, and the home fans got to be bored to tears by a Lorient side that has had some trouble scoring of late. Lille would be unhappy with this as well, as it made catching up to Lens just that much tougher.

In Brittany, Nantes played host to Nancy in a match that they had to win as they were sitting in 19th and needed every point they could get. Nancy's form of late had been poor, and they now sat in 10th after their draw with Le Mans last weekend. This was a far cry from the 2nd place they had briefly enjoyed early in the season. Nantes got things started when Mamadou Diallo got a rare goal in the 35th minute. 4 minutes later, however, Nancy came right back at them when Midfielder Jonathan Brison got an even rarer goal, his first of the campaign. After halftime things were rather tense but La Beaujoire-Louis-Fonteneau erupted when Emerse Fae made his contribution to put the home side back ahead. That was how things ended, and now Nantes make things interesting by moving up into 18th, pending the PSG result.

Rennes travelled to the Municipal du Ray in Nice to play a team that was certainly on a roll. Unbeaten in their last 5, Nice had shown some serious quality to get themselves out of the relegation mire and up into 15th. Rennes were slumping a little after a fantastic run, and had lost two in a row, including last week's match against Auxerre. Rennes scored first, against the run of play, when Jimmy Briand got a goal just 15 minutes in, but an unafraid Nice were not deterred from getting one back courtesy of Marama Vahirua just after halftime. Nice showed positive form the entire match and fully deserved the point. 1-1 was the final, and the teams now sit in 10th and 16th.

The last match of Saturday was hardly destined to be a cracker, but Valenciennes' trip to Troyes was one they needed three points from lest they fall back into the relegation mire. Their draw with Toulouse last weekend was not enough to give them any sort of safety. Troyes was another team that had done well to get out of the danger zone, but sat only a place above Valenciennes in the table and one slip up could be costly for them as well. A tense first half culminated with Valenciennes' absurdly named Midfielder Yacine Bezzaz pulling one for the visitors. That was all that they needed to go on a roll, and second half goals from Sébastien Roudet and Laurent Dufresne were enough to secure the victory, despite Troyes' David Gigliotti getting one back in the 90th minute. Valenciennes got just what they needed and now move up to a much safer 15h on the day.

Sedan had shocked PSG back into brutal reality last weekend, shining with a 2-0 win at home, momentarily sitting in 19th place. THe side would be eager to get a result here again, but Lens were a completely different story from PSG. Lens beat Marseille last weekend and were now 6 domestic matches without a loss. Gregory Pujol, Sedan's in-form striker, put the fear into Lens' hearts when he struck gold just 2 minutes into the match. Despite the initial setback, Lens were clearly the better team, dominating the play and struck back at the half-hour mark courtesy of Seydou Keita. The teams stayed level thanks to some astute defending by Sedan, and 1-1 was how it ended. Sedan resign themselves to 20th for another week, and Lens still sit comfortably in 2nd.

PSG had it all to do at the Parc des Princes Sunday evening against Auxerre. Their shameful loss to Sedan last weekend had pulled them down into the mire of Relegation territory, sitting in 18th. Auxerre surprised Rennes last weekend as well, beating them 1-0, and now sitting in 12th. Despite having the edge in the match as a whole, PSG just could not finish, and Auxerre finally broke through just before halftime when defender Younes Kaboul took advantage of a critical defensive erroe by PSG to put them in the lead. That was all that either team had going on on the day, and the result pushes PSG further into the mire, into 19th courtesy of Nantes' fortuitous win on Saturday. Auxerre sit in 14th, still safe for now.

The marquee match of the weekend was surely Lyon vs. Marseille. The league leaders had assaulted Marseille 4-1 earlier in the season, and the visitors would be looking for revenge. Lyon crashed out of Europe earlier in the week, but had won their tumultuous derby with St. Etienne last weekend. Marseille had had a bit of a slip up against Lens, losing 1-0 and now sat in 8th. Lyon started things off by dominating the play, and Milan Baros scored in the 20th minute to get things going for the hosts. Unfortunately they were thwarted 2 minutes from time when Mamadou Niang beat Gregory Coupet to get Marseille the point. The result probably won't hurt Lyon's title chances, but it does complete a dire week for them as they slump once again.