Champions League Round Up

pjanic-300x227All the games have been played and the French teams that played in European competition the last three days come back home with mixed results. Some, like Toulouse, have to be happy with their 3-2 win against Partizan Belgrade. Others, though, have to be wondering what might have been, like Marseille.

The question that has to be asked after this first round is “where did Ligue 1 teams stand in comparison to the rest of the football world.” Since three teams played Italian teams, it is hard to gauge exacts, but with there being a 1-1-1 split amongst those games, it has to be said that the level and quality of play in France is equal to the quality in Italy. Yes, I said it, Serie A and Ligue 1 are equals.

So lets break down the Champions League games first.

Marseille vs. AC Milan

If you read the post that was published a few days ago, you realize that I was pretty harsh on Marseille. And I will continue to be. As of this point in the season, it is really hard to figure out where L’OM will fit in the grand scheme of things. One thing is for sure…they will not be advancing to the knock-out stage of the Champions League.

They look great on the pitch, with their speed and talent, yet they just couldn’t knock in that decisive goal. They cannot win a game 3-0 or 4-0 like Bordeaux. And right now, making next year’s Champions League would be considered a stretch.

Marseille’s defense also looked weak. While Gabriel Heinze did score the lone goal for the home team, it was his poor defensive play that also lead to the second, and game-winning, goal for AC Milan.

This weekend, Marseille will be playing their rivals to the north, Montpellier. While many Ligue 1 followers didn’t have this match circled on their calendar, they do now. Montpellier has looked quite impressive so far. Going into this game, Marseille is still considered the favorites. But could the poor result on Tuesday translate into rattle nerves on Sunday and lead to a Montpellier victory? Maybe.

Still, going into the group stage, Marseille had the hardest schedule. And, with a loss at home to the team they will battling second place with, their hill just got quite a bit steeper.

Juventus vs. Bordeaux

Many so-called ‘football experts’ were surprised that Bordeaux pulled off the 1-1 draw away in Turin. But  those of us who are avid fans of Ligue 1 were not surprised. True, the win was a big win, and any time you can reduce the home side to one point it is considered a victory. But most people were “shocked” by how well Bordeaux plays.

Were you?

Not really. Bordeaux played like they have played all last season and this season…smart. Yes, they might not have looked as pretty as Marseille in their losing effort, but they knew what they had to do to get a draw in the game. They knew where their players were and they executed each play quite well.

Another difference Bordeaux and Marseille was their defense. While maybe not as well known as Marseille’s defense, Bordeaux’s D played a smarter game than their French counterparts. The defensive four of Bordeaux kept an eye on their players, making sure that Juventus didn’t get the advantage. This was something that Marseille (as I mentioned with Heinze earlier) failed to do.

This weekend, Bordeaux will travel to Boulogne in what should be an easy three points for Les Girondins.

Lyon vs. Fiorentina

The best French players in this matchup didn’t even play for the French team. It was Fiorentina’s goaltender Sebastian Frey. Frey, a one time national team hopefully that was snubbed by Raymond Domenech, showed his stuff against Lyon, making one amazing save after another. Maybe Frey was making a statement to the FFF….non?

Still, Lyon went up a man at the half when Alberto Gilardino was sent off. And even though they had the man advantage, Lyon didn’t score until the 76th minute, when Miralem Pjanić scored. This would be enough, even with Fiorentina threatening late, to secure a victory for Lyon.

Most people who casually watch Lyon would assume that Lisandro Lopez is their one and only player. Yes, he has been amazing this year. And Fionentina did a good job shutting him down, along with striker Bafé Gomis. But what the Italian side failed to realize is that Lyon is a ‘team’, and has more than just two players.

This was the perfect time for players to shine. Jérémy Toulalan, who usually plays in the midfield, showed that he can play defense as well. His superb play made many wonder if Toulalan should be moved to the back line for club and country. After yesterday’s game, it is hard to argue against that. Other players that showed their stuff were Miralem Pjanić, Aly Cissokho and Kim Källström. Even the ‘not 100%’ Sidney Govou showed his stuff after replacing the injured Michel Bastos.

There has been no news in the media in the last few days about Bastos’ injury, so hopefully all is well with the winger.

Now with all the games played, we can pretty much get an idea of where things might be heading. If I were Marseille, I would only worry about Ligue 1 right now, as advancing any further in the Champions League is near impossible. As for Bordeaux and Lyon, they have a great start to what could be a great season for both side.

There will be a round up post of the Europa League matches tomorrow. Still………ALLEZ LE TEF 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. Ligue 1 is more than an equal to Serie A! See previous post.

  2. Agree 🙂

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