By Shai Mamou
What a relief for Lille! In trouble during more than 90 minutes versus the weak Arles-Avignon, the Ligue 1 leaders failed to reproduce the same type of game than the last weeks. Apathetic, slow and uninspired, Rudi Garcia’s team could even have lost this game without Mickaël Landreau the former Paris goalkeeper. As usual, Eden Hazard tried his best to disturb his opponents but was definately too isolated. Thanks to remarkable mental qualities and to the header of the Brazilian substitute Tulio De Melo (93′), Lille holds on their first position and even leave Marseille, their initially most serious opponent, a little further. This difficult win is a warning for the Northeners who will have to find their talent back before the winter break if they don’t want to loose the lead.
The wizard Nenê stroke again! The offensive midfielder of Paris saved his team mates once again on Saturday evening in Valenciennes. Scoring two goals (47′ and 84′), the Brazilian enchanted the Parc des Princes and nearly beat the Northeners on his own. If the win is deserved due to the numerous opportunities they had, the Parisians could have been forced to tie the game without their star. Indeed, the young Cameroonese striker Vincent Aboubakar had brought his team in the game ten minutes before the end (82′). But it was without counting on a terrific and amazing curved shot from Nenê, who scored his 10th and 11th goals of the year. Paris is still second, but becomes as convincing as Lille and remains a real candidate for the title, 15 years before their last victory.
Marseille is desperately waiting for the winter break… Conceding a draw on Auxerre’s pitch at L’Abbé Deschamps, the title holders lacked of realism and luck. After a nice header of Rémy following a good cross of Brandao (9′), everyone thought the game would be easy and quiet for Didier Deschamps and his players. But then everything turned wrong. Mbia was sent off for a foul outside the surface but transformed into a penalty kick by the referee. A questionable turn of event obviously taken at his advantage by Birsa just before half time (40′). Despite their inferiority, Marseille surprisingly kept on dominating their opponents but missed a lot of good opportunities because of their clumsiness and of the great game of Olivier Sorin, Auxerre’s goalkeeper. The Southerners are now at the fifth position and have to wake up quickly if they don’t want to see Lille, Paris and even Lyon steal their trophy at the end of the season. Maybe the Olympians left too much energy in their qualifying campaign for the Champions League…