Ligue 1 Team of the Week
Ligue 1 resumed post-winter break action on Friday night and already there have been a few surprises.
Not only have Paris Saint-Germain lost ground at the top of the table with a goalless draw with Ajaccio, Marseille lost ground too with a defeat at Sochaux.
Nice's fine form continues and Montpellier look set for resurgence amidst plenty of transfer talk regarding key players.
Here is my latest Ligue 1 team of the week.
The Mexican international has been one of the Corsican outfit's star players since arriving at the club in 2011.
It was his string of saves, one in particular—Alex's goal-bound header, which enabled Ajaccio to leave the Parc des Princes with a point.
This is the second time this year that Guillermo Ochoa and les Ours have frustrated PSG and claimed a goalless point against the big spenders.
Bordeaux's marauding Brazilian full-back was an inspired signing by Coach Francis Gillot in last winter's transfer window.
This season, the defender has been an important part of les Girondins' rise to fourth and provides impressive attacking width on the right.
The Brazilian was in superb form as Bordeaux leapfrogged Rennes into fourth. Mariano supplied young Henri Saivet with FCGB's second in a vital win in Brittany.
Nice have been reinvented under Coach Claude Puel since his arrival in the summer and defender Renato Civelli has become a cornerstone of his new-look team.
The Argentine centre-back has been in good form this season with two goals and an assist, the second of those came against Valenciennes on Sunday.
Nice's five-star showing took them into fifth place in the table and the 29-year old kept a clean sheet in the process.
Recently arrived from Spanish Segundo Division's Villarreal, Florian Lejeune was thrust straight into Landry Chauvin's starting lineup for Brest's clash with Evian on Saturday.
And he didn't disappoint. A rare clean sheet for Brest who secured a vital 2-0 away win; their first all season (fourth in last 43).
Lejeune's block from Clarck N'Sikulu's effort was the highlight of an encouraging first showing from the 21-year old.
A revelation at the heart of the Lyon defence so far this season, Samuel Umtiti's meteoric rise to the summit of French football continued on Saturday at Troyes.
Lyon usurped Paris Saint-Germain at the top of Ligue 1 thanks to a narrow 2-1 win against the strugglers. It was Umtiti's 75th-minute effort that secured the points.
The 19-year old has impressed in his 10 starts so far this season and has become one of Remi Garde's most reliable players despite his young age. Expect more from him as the season progresses.
The archetypal unfashionable player, Bruno Grougi would have arguably played for a bigger side in France had he not been such a late bloomer.
Introduced to top-flight football in 2010 after securing promotion from Ligue 2 with Brest in his first season in Brittany, the 29-year old has played almost his entire career in western France.
In three seasons in Ligue 1, Grougi has consistently been one of the team's stand-out performers and top scorer with nine goals in each season. Saturday's strike against Evian; however, was his first this season in 16 appearances.
Chauvin's side will need to see more from him before the season is through to ensure survival.
Florian Thauvin's breakthrough in the top-flight has been one of the most impressive things about Bastia's return to Ligue 1 this season.
The 19-year old bagged one goal and played a large role in another on Sunday as the Corsicans secured three vital points against relegation rivals Reims. That was his third strike of the campaign.
Now an under-20 French international, Thauvin is fast becoming hot property in Ligue 1.
The €45 million Brazilian signing Lucas Moura made his long-awaited league debut for PSG against Ajaccio. He was the hosts' best player as they ambled to a 0-0 draw against the Corsican minnows.
Moura's searing pace, darting runs and willingness to get heavily involved in the action quickly endeared him to fans getting a first glimpse of the new boy.
Although, it was by no means an outstanding display, but an impressive first showing in the league considering that he was already handed a start in place of the influential Jeremy Menez.
Much has been made of Yohan Mollo's attitude since he was loaned to Saint-Etienne from strugglers Nancy. Former boss Jean Fernandez, who received the boot last week from ASNL, claimed he was "unmanageable" but les Verts boss Christophe Galtier saw something he liked in the former Monaco man and secured him on loan.
Mollo began paying his new boss' faith back with a 62nd-minute equaliser at home to Toulouse in an otherwise disappointing start to 2013 for ASSE.
The goal is Mollo's fourth of the season, having left his parent club languishing at the bottom of Ligue 1 with 12 points. But, if the 23-year old's goals have accounted for five of those points this season, Nancy may well have dispensed with their only hope for survival.
Replacing last season's 21-goal striker Olivier Giroud at Montpellier was always going to be a tall order for either Gaetan Charbonnier or Emmanuel Herrera. The former, particularly, given that he was stepping up from Ligue 2 to the top-flight aged 24 with no experience.
His double against Lorient on Saturday, though, will go a long way towards ensuring that he is given the opportunity to fill Giroud's boots on a regular basis ahead of the Argentine. Coming on as a substitute for Herrera just after the hour, Charbonnier bagged a brace inside of half an hour to secure three vital points for Rene Girard's floundering side.
Now looking to salvage something from a poor start to their defence of last season's surprise title win, Charbonnier needs to start producing performances like this on a consistent basis.
Nice's Argentine striker Dario Cvitanich picked up in 2013 where he left off in 2012; at the heart of les Aiglon's impressive surge up the table. With 10 goals and an assist to his name at the end of a productive first six months in French football, Cvitanich looks like the only real contender for Zlatan Ibrahimovic's seemingly inevitable top scorer's crown this term.
A double against Valenciennes in a thumping 5-0 win for Claude Puel's side moves the Argentine to within six goals of the towering Swede. Cvitanich's talismanic status for OGCN is developing game after game.
If he continues in this form until the end of the season, not only will Nice likely lose their star who arrived for almost next to nothing, but they will almost certainly qualify for Europe football as well.
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