Winners and Losers from Ligue 1's Opening Weekend
Football is back, and Ligue 1 has gotten off with a bang. All 10 games saw a total of 27 goals—that’s an average of 2.7 per game. With only one game finishing without a goal—of course, the game I was at—it was a barn-busting opening weekend.
Ligue 1 wouldn’t be the same without someone getting a red card, and Monaco couldn’t resist, as Ricardo Carvalho saw red for a second yellow.
When you take a snapshot of the table now, Paris Saint-Germain are not—I repeat not—top of the league. Relegation favourites Caen have that pleasure right now after their stunning opening-weekend win over fellow potential strugglers Evian—insert joke about a leaky defence—at the Parc des Sports in Annecy.
So much happened on an action-packed first weekend, so let’s take a look at the winners and losers from the opening weekend in Ligue 1.
Winners: Double Goal Action Heroes
Five players scored braces this weekend in Ligue 1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic started it off on Friday night, although it is a pretty dubious call to award him the second, as it certainly wasn’t going in before Stade de Reims goalkeeper Johnny Placide guided the ball toward his own net.
Mathieu Duhamel was the big hero for Caen on Saturday night; his two goals led the side to a wonderful 3-0 win over Evian and might just change everyone’s mind that they will struggle to stay out of the bottom three this season.
Spirits on the island of Corsica will be high this week after Christopher Maboulou scored twice as SC Bastia came from 3-1 down to shock Ligue 1 and take a point from Marcelo Bielsa’s Olympique de Marseille.
It was a wonderful competitive start to coaching for Claude Makelele. The former Chelsea and PSG man will be delighted to get a point on opening day and hopefully start a new unbeaten run at the Stade Armand Cesari.
Winners: Coaching Debutants Are Key
Another coach getting his debut win was Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol. The former France international picked up a wonderful 1-0 away win at Montpellier. His side are targeting a place in the Europa League next season, and this is the ideal way to start the campaign.
Rennes’ striker Mevlut Erding and Nice's Dario Cvitanich also scored twice as their clubs beat Guingamp and Toulouse, respectively. Both sides struggled last season; Nice finished 17th, and the goals of Cvitanich will try to prevent that this season.
One of the biggest winners this weekend was 22-year-old Nantes forward Yacine Bammou. Making his first-team debut, he came on with 27 minutes to go and delighted the Stade de Beaujoire by scoring the winning goal after only being on the pitch for less than 60 seconds.
Nantes are under a transfer embargo, so coach Michel der Zakarian will be counting on his younger player to step up and support the first team. Bammou showed that he can make a telling impact.
However, the biggest winners this weekend have to be FC Lorient and new coach Sylvain Ripoll. His side defended for their lives, had an inspirational display from goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte and scored with only minutes to go to record their first-ever win over AS Monaco away from home in any competition.
Vincent Aboubakar had given them the lead in the first half, only for a Radamel Falcao penalty to level the game in the second half. On came substitute Valentin Lavigne for his Ligue 1 debut. The academy product pushed forward with only three minutes to go, received the ball unmarked and coolly placed his shot past Danijel Subasic.
Losers: PSG Are Not Top for a Change
It’s not going to be often we’ll get the chance to include PSG in the losers section, so let’s take advantage of it while we can.
The champions were expected to start the season with a bang away at Stade de Reims in France’s Champagne region, but new coach Jean-Luc Vasseur had other ideas.
After going behind to Ibrahimovic's early goal, the home side hit back and went 2-1 up via Prince Oniangue and Antoine Devaux. With Reims taking the lead before half-time, it made Ibrahimovic's penalty miss on 19 minutes even more important.
However, the Swedish striker had other ideas, and it was his cross that Placide guided into his own net. The goal was given to Ibrahimovic, but really there should be a dubious goals panel for that one.
In the end, Laurent Blanc’s men dropped the points with a 2-2 draw, but they will recover to dominate soon enough.
Losers: Top Sides Fail to Pick Up Three Points
It seems like a lot of the bigger sides in Ligue 1 struggled this weekend. Lille felt the effects of playing in the Champions League qualifiers as they had an awful 0-0 draw at home to newly promoted FC Metz.
Lille dominated possession but couldn’t create any clear scoring chances. They need to win games like that if they want to finish third again. LOSC goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama will be happy, though, as he claimed 21 clean sheets last season.
Only 20 to go to match that achievement.
Marseille were 3-1 up away at Bastia on Saturday night, but Bielsa’s men throw away the two-goal lead. The Argentine coach played the famed 3-3-3-1 formation, and it looks like it will take some work to strengthen the defensive side.
It’s not the worst result to start the season with a 3-3 draw at Bastia, but the nature of losing the two-goal lead will hurt Bielsa.
All the big sides struggled this weekend, which shows just how unpredictable Ligue 1 can be. PSG, Monaco, Lille and Marseille all failed to win. That is expected to be the league’s top four sides this season, and every one of them will have to buck up their ideas this season.