MARSEILLE TAKES THE LEAD
Since the beginning of the season, Marseille’s fans were waiting for a convincing success. Their team was competitive but not reassuring in the manner until the crucial success in Moscow last Tuesday in Champions League (0-3). The Southerners had to confirm this brightening on Saturday for a game that clearly looked like a test against Montpellier, 2nd in the rankings before their visit at the Vélodrome Stadium. The least we can say is that the fans have been satiated. Efficient, strong and technically sharp, Marseille never let a chance to their opponents. A little criticized for his performances for a few weeks (despite good stats); “El Commandante” Lucho Gonzalez reminded everyone he was a first class player with a nice volley (20′). A few minutes later, Benoît Cheyrou was a bit lucky when his shot was deviated by two legs before beating the unfortunated goalkeeper Jourdren (28′). The second half was nothing but an easy walk for the new leader of Ligue 1. Unstoppable for a few weeks with the French national team and Marseille, Mathieu Valbuena proved he worked on converting occasions with a cool-blooded goal from close range (65′). On the pitch for a few minutes only, Loïc Rémy finalized the large success of Didier Deschamps’s guys with a victorious one-on-one in the additional time (92′). I said a few months ago that the other teams should take advantage of Marseille’s little gaps when it was still the moment. I guess it is now over and if Lucho and co win the delayed game versus Rennes on Wednesday, I honestly don’t know who will prevent them to keep their trophy…
Ok, Lille develops the most pleasant game of the league. Ok, Lille has one of the most promising squad in Europe. But they won’t be competitive enough until they avoid draws like this one. Bordeaux is a team in a process of reconstruction after the Laurent Blanc era and is not the machine it used to be. So Lille should have taken the best and make the break before conceding this weird own goal a few minutes after the half time. The unfortunate Rami (very good in defense with the French national team), a little driven by Ciani, beat Landreau and tied the game against his own will (51′). Before that, Lille had undeniably been the best team on the pitch. Moussa Sow had scored his 10th goal this season (36′) and the Northerners had missed a few opportunities by Beria or Debuchy. Despite this relative bad result, Lille is still the more reliable rival for Marseille this year in my opinion. The gesture of the winter break will probably be decisive to know if they have the meanings to be more than challengers…
What a game at Stadium of Gerland on Sunday night! Physical involvement and suspense have been the ingredients of this clash of the 15th week in Ligue 1. Humiliated in Champions League by Schalke 04 earlier in the week (3-0), Lyon had to react in order to keep a little hope of victory at the end of the season. It was obliterating the fact that Paris is definitely one of the hardest teams to play in France for 4 months now. With a rejuvenated Makelele (37), an efficient although not amazing Nenê and an heroic Armand in defense, Paris could (should?) have won the game. Any fan of the PSG probably cursed Edel Apoula, the Cameroonian goalkeeper last night. Whereas Paris leaded 2-1 after having conceded a goal by Cissokho (54′) then being came back thanks to Nenê (64′) and Hoarau (83′), Edel made an awful clearance in the back of Gomis, the opposing striker. Amazed but happy, the former player of Saint-Etienne shot with the left foot and tied the game (87′). Claude Puel, the Lyon coach, can breath, even if no one has been fooled. Lyon will have a difficult year and is not a credible candidate to the trophy. On the other hand, Paris showed good mental resources and keep on aiming a place in the Top 3.