20 Best Ligue 1 Goals of 2012
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2012 produced some magic moments in Ligue 1. From Montpellier winning the title to Paris Saint-Germain's assault on the transfer market that snared Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi, it has been a crazy 12 months in France.
One constant through it all has been superb entertainment.
Not only is football in France great value for money, but there also is some top talent on show each week. Le Championnat showcases some of Europe's best young talent on a weekly basis, and despite the losses of Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud over the summer, the league still remains strong and competitive.
A number of club's transfer policies have contributed to that, and despite some generally low-scoring games in the past, Ligue 1 in recent seasons has started to witness some very high-scoring games.
2012 has been exceptionally good, here is a pick of some of the best goals from France's top-flight over this calendar year.
Younes Belhanda (Montpellier) vs. Marseille
Belhanda's acrobatic effort vs. OM en route to Montpellier's title win
Few players had the same impact as Montpellier's Moroccan sensation Younes Belhanda last season. The 22-year-old was one of Rene Girard's standout players in MHSC's unfancied title triumph.
This sublime goal against Marseille sums Belhanda up in a nutshell.
Andre-Pierre Gignac (Marseille) vs. Rennes
Gignac blasts home this effort vs. Rennes to cap a remarkable rebirth at OM.
2012 has been quite a year for Marseille's Andre-Pierre Gignac. Starting it out of form, out of shape and out of favour under Didier Deschamps, he ended it as OM's undisputed first-choice striker under new coach Elie Baup.
Back and firing once again despite another injury layoff early in the season, Gignac has kept Marseille in the title race with his goals.
Here is one of his best.
Andre-Pierre Gignac (Marseille) vs. Toulouse
Gignac's return from injury could not have been more timely.
Continuing his impressive start to the season, Andre-Pierre Gignac picked up where he left off to return from injury to bag a crucial winner at Toulouse. The win kept OM level on points with PSG and Lyon.
The fact that the goal came against his former club made the victory all the sweeter for Gignac.
Michel Bastos (Lyon) vs. Troyes
Bastos' acrobatic effort vs. Troyes
Brazilian Michel Bastos has carved himself out a reputation for scoring spectacular goals since his arrival in France in 2006. In his time at Lille and Lyon, as well as on international duty for the Selecao, he has bagged many unbelievable strikes, often important ones.
Although this goal against Troyes on the second day of the season was not of vital importance, it was outrageous nonetheless.
Dario Cvitanich (Nice) vs. Evian
Cvitanich adds to his growing reputation with this lob vs. Evian.
Dario Cvitanich has been one of this current season's outstanding buys. Nice boss Claude Puel took a gamble on the nomadic Argentine, but he has repaid the manager handsomely.
This recent strike against Evian capped an impressive first six months in France for Cvitanich.
Romain Alessandrini (Rennes) vs. Nancy
Alessandrini's wonder goal vs. Nancy
Romain Alessandrini has been one of this season's undoubted revelations in Ligue 1. Joining Rennes from Ligue 2's Clermont, he has taken to life in the top flight with ease and is now one of Le Championnat's biggest stars.
This strike vs. Nancy heads a catalogue of super strikes already compiled by the 23-year-old so far this year.
Romain Alessandrini (Rennes) vs. Lille
Alessandrini bags another screamer, this time against Lille.
That man Romain Alessandrini was at it again with this sumptuous strike vs. Lille. Mickael Landreau was left with no chance as the Frenchman drilled home to secure a 2-0 win.
Adrien Regattin (Toulouse) vs. Sochaux
Regattin's stunning free-kick effort against Les Lionceaux
Not a player famous for scoring tap-ins, Toulouse's Adrien Regattin announced his arrival in the top flight last year with a superb bicycle kick.
This season, although not exactly scaling the same heights individually, this free-kick against Sochaux was pretty special.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) vs. Marseille
Ibrahimovic's brilliant flying volley illuminated his flying start to life in Ligue 1.
No top-goals compilation would be completed without an appearance from PSG's mercurial striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swede has already achieved so much in his short time in France, but arguably his best showing came in an incredible three-minute turnaround away at bitter rivals Marseille.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) vs. OM
Ibrahimovic was at it again three minutes later, turning the game on its head.
Ibrahimovic's impact on that game swung the pendulum in PSG's favour. The Swede lining up a free kick before unleashing a blockbuster effort to hand the side from the capital the lead.
All inside of three crazy minutes in Provence.
Rafael Dias (Sochaux) vs. Bordeaux
Dias' superb late strike vs. Bordeaux
David Beckham, eat your heart out.
Rumours are rife that the legendary English free-kick specialist could arrive in France soon. However, Rafael Dias' sublime strike to secure a 2-2 draw against Bordeaux suggests that he might not be needed.
Sochaux fans have had little to shout about this season; the Brazilian's free-kick, however, offers some consolation.
Alain Traore (Lorient) vs. Rennes
Traore's stunning start to the season was capped by this emphatic finish vs. Breton rivals Rennes.
Alain Traore has made a huge impact since signing for Lorient, and that impact was no more obvious than in Les Merlus' 2-1 victory over Rennes in the Breton derby.
This was the first of a spectacular double from the Burkinabe sensation.
Alain Traore (Lorient) vs. Rennes
Traore's free kick later in the game completed a brilliant double.
Equal to his strike 20 minutes before, if not better, Traore bagged a beautiful second from this free kick to secure the points for Christian Gourcuff's men.
Dimitri Payet (Lille) vs. Toulouse
Payet's brilliant effort to defeat Toulouse
Dimitri Payet has been Lille's outstanding performer in recent weeks since coach Rudi Garcia decided to question the quality of his performances since the start of the season.
No questions about the quality of the finish here, nor the relief on the beleaguered Garcia's face.
Djamel Bakar (Nancy) vs. Lille
Lille's first goal in their new stadium was not exactly their own.
No sooner had the excitement over Lille's first league game in their new stadium died down, Djamel Bakar silenced the crowd with this lovely effort from range.
Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille) vs. Bastia
Valbuena's sensational finish vs. Bastia, witnessed by few
Mathieu Valbuena has a penchant for scoring spectacular goals. This effort vs. Bastia was no exception. It's just a shame that not many fans were there to see it due to the Corsicans' ban for crowd trouble.
Maxwell (PSG) vs. Montpellier
Maxwell's lobbed finish vs. Montpellier belied his defensive status.
Despite the abundance of riches in the Paris Saint-Germain team this season, well-travelled Brazilian left-back Maxwell provided one of the best goals of the current campaign.
This chipped finish against Montpellier earned the side a hard-fought point away at the defending champions.
Jeremie Aliadiere (Lorient) vs. PSG
Aliadiere's goal vs. PSG was a reminder of his considerable talent.
Minnows Lorient travelled to the capital on the first day of the season to tackle Carlo Ancelotti's lavishly redecorated PSG side. They raced into a surprise 2-0 half-time lead.
This exceptional strike from former Arsenal striker Jeremie Aliadiere demonstrated that despite his many injury problems, he hasn't lost a step over the years.
Christopher Glombard (Reims) vs. Montpellier
Glombard's fantastic strike vs. Montpellier
Unfancied Reims announced their return to France's top flight in style with a 3-1 home win over defending champions Montpellier.
Christopher Glombard, ordinarily a defender, contributed with a superb solo goal as Reims threatened to run riot over Rene Girard's side.
Marco Estrada (Montpellier) vs. Bastia
Estrada's rocket of an effort was too hot to handle.
Possibly the best strike of the season so far was Montpellier's Marco Estrada against Bastia.
His screaming effort was one of a number of outrageous strikes in the Chilean's Ligue 1 career, but even his impressive collection fail to top this one.