Ancelotti's PSG side slipped to defeat in Sochaux, opening up the title race once more
This weekend once again illustrated Ligue 1’s high entertainment value with a number of surprise results, not least Sochaux’s 3-2 home win over title favourites Paris Saint-Germain.
Lyon revived their title hopes with a thumping 4-0 away win over Bordeaux to move back within three points of Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Marseille set up an enticing next instalment of 'le Classique' when the southerners arrive in the capital on Sunday, thanks to a 1-0 win over Valenciennes that has them five points off top spot.
Nice’s march towards an improbable finish in the European positions continued with a 1-0 win at Bastia who, in turn, slip closer to the relegation zone. Montpellier continue their pursuit of European qualification with a 1-0 win over rock-bottom Nancy, and second-bottom Troyes were denied a massive three-point haul thanks to a wickedly deflected Etienne Didot cross.
Amidst all the action were some excellent goals, with this week’s theme more one of team goals than superb individual strikes.
Here are the contenders.
Last week many were writing off Lyon’s title challenge as a brave, but ultimately hopeless crusade after they fell six points behind leaders PSG. Following a 4-0 win over Bordeaux at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, the title bid is back on.
Clement Grenier led Remi Garde’s side with two goals, and Alexandre Lacazette added another, but it was Gueida Fofana who caught the eye thanks to his sublime strike.
Not one for getting on the scoresheet regularly, the goal was the 21-year-old’s second in a month. The last was an equally spectacular effort at Valenciennes at the end of January, and the midfielder appears to be mastering the art of popping up with important goals at crucial moments.
Lille’s Dimitri Payet has been one of the revelations of this Ligue 1 season, even if his Lille side have not been tearing up the league table. With eight goals and 10 assists so far this year, the 25-year-old is les Dogues’ most creative player.
A 2-0 home win over Rennes on Friday boosted their hopes of re-entering the race for Europe, and Payet was the man who ensured the result with his eighth strike of the season. Rudi Garcia’s men now sit 10th in the table, but only five points off of fourth place.
Montpellier’s Argentinian striker Emmanuel Herrera has struggled at times this season to fill the big boots left behind by now-Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud after his 21-goal campaign last year. Since finding the net against Bastia in December, though, the 25-year-old seems to have finally found his feet.
His header against Nancy this weekend was his sixth goal of the season, and it boosted Rene Girard’s men as they continue to recover their disappointing start to the season by climbing up the table in search of a European position.
Sunday’s battle between Sochaux and PSG was a Ligue 1 equivalent of David and Goliath, but as is often the case in France, the minnows prevailed thanks to good organisation and strong teamwork.
Ryad Boudebouz who has been out of form for the best part of the last two seasons following a revelatory season as les Lionceaux finished fifth in le Championnat in 2011, finally found some form and laid on Sebastien Roudet for arguably the hosts’ best goal of the evening.
The strike exposed the lack of communication and movement in the PSG defence but also superbly hit the visitors when they were most vulnerable after taking the lead.
Nice’s Neal Maupay has been one of Ligue 1’s teenage revelations this season with Claude Puel’s overachievers. The 16-year-old has a staggering three goals in 11 appearances (two starts), but from only four shots on target.
Les Aiglons’ new star is making a name for himself in record time, and his strike against Bastia further underlined his credentials as one of OGCN’s main goal threats.
Although not worthy of ousting Roudet’s goal in the list in terms of importance, the Brazilian’s looping header from a Javier Pastore corner gave PSG the lead in Montbeliard and demonstrated the defender’s value to Ancelotti’s side from set-pieces.
Pastore has now assisted three of PSG’s last five goals against Sochaux indicating a preference for playing les Lionceaux, but it wasn’t enough to stop Eric Hely’s men from taking a deserved victory on Sunday.