Ligue 1 Awards : results

Any doubts? I didn't think so.

As usual, the weekend before the last match, the Ligue 1 awards ceremony is held under the patronage of long-time French soccer treasurer, PPV channel Canal +.

The voting is pretty easy, and goes this way : each pro player in the 20 L1 clubs has the right to vote, as do their coaches. The only vote in which the public has a say is for best goal of the season. For this one, voting is held online.

(For those of you follow the site’s Twitter account, or my personal Twitter account, you’ll have had the live info.)

So without further notice, here are the winners, and my personal non-objective opinion on the results. I would also love to know what you think, so let’s have a debate going on in the comment section.

Best Ligue 1 Goalkeeper : Hugo Lloris – Lyon

I don’t think this one can be discussed. The Lyon goalkeeper had a stellar season, was consistent in his extremely high level of performances and played a huge part in Lyon’s decent campaign in Ligue 1 and great one in Champions League. He is considered part of the world top 5 ; Lyon’s victory versus Real Madrid meant a direct confrontation with Iker Casillas where Lloris shone, which is highly symbolic.

Lloris beat out Steve Mandanda, Stéphane Ruffier and Cédric Carasso for the trophy that he already won last year. Lloris is set to be the starting goalkeeper for France at the World Cup. Lots of pressure will be put on him, and the expectations are high, but it looks like the kid (only 23!) can stand the pressure.

Best Ligue 1 Coach : Jean Fernandez- Auxerre

This is a bit of a surprise. Didier Deschamps was expected to win after having brought Marseille to its first two titles in 18 years. Working in Marseille is very hard, probably as hard as Paris, and Deschamps had his up and downs this season but made the best of it all. Nonetheless, he is not the one taking the trophy home, as Auxerre’s fabulous campaign this season has been recognized.

At the beginning of the season, Auxerre wasn’t expected to perform this well. But how did it happen that they are currently in 3rd position and in the running for a Champions League spot? The team isn’t made up of the best individualities (except for Ireneusz Jelen, maybe), unlike Bordeaux, Marseille or Lyon ; but the chemistry is at its highest, and all praise goes to Fernandez for making it happen and work. The squad is in majority made up of players that their previous clubs didn’t want anymore (Jérémy Berthod and Benoît Pedretti at Lyon, Adama Coulibaly at Lens, Olivier Sorin at Nancy, Dennis Oliech at Nantes, Julien Quercia and Valter Birsa at Sochaux), a few Eastern European players that the club took risks on, and some home-grown talent. This unlikely assemblage didn’t look like it could achieve anything amazing but Jean Fernandez managed to create a team spirit that carried them above and beyond.

Jean Fernandez is a very experienced coach, who had lots of success with Sochaux, but wasn’t able to stand the pressure of coaching Marseille. He returned to anonymity during 2 seasons with Auxerre, and his Ligue 1 experience served him well this season. But can he do it again next year?

Eden Hazard, once again best young player

Best Ligue 1 young player : Eden Hazard – Lille

A pretty easy and obvious choice here. The Belgian beat out Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Emmanuel Rivière (Saint-Etienne) and Karim Aït-Fana (Montpellier). The 19-year old killed Ligue 1 defenses all season, scoring 5 goals and delivering 8 assists. His stats aren’t that impressive but Rudy Garcia, Lille’s coach, has been adamant all season about protecting his gem. He hasn’t started all the games and often has only come on for the last 20 minutes, but even in that short span of time, manages to do lots of damage. He has also been the subject of a very rough treatment by defenders this season, and his coach went postal more than once ; but Hazard always keeps his head up and never complains (I’m looking at you, Valbuena).

Now, how long will he stay in Ligue 1? Arsenal is said to like the player a lot, and I don’t know a European club that wouldn’t want to have him on their squad. Hazard said he would stay for another season, and then it’s up in the air. Since Lille is very likely to play the Champions League next year, Hazard’s stock will rise even more if he performs well, and I don’t see him still being in France in 2011/2012.

Interestingly, Hazard was also nominated in the Best Ligue 1 player category, which is the first occurrence of a double nomination in the Ligue 1 Oscars history. It’s also a shame that the kid is Belgian, since he’ll probably never grace a World Cup with his presence. Had his parents lived 50km further West, he would be going to South Africa.

Ligue 1 Best 11 : Hugo Lloris – Rod Fanni , Souleymane Diawara, Mickaël Ciani , Benoît Trémoulinas Benoît Cheyrou, Yohann Gourcuff , Eden Hazard – Mamadou Niang, Marouane Chamakh, Lisandro Lopez

A few comments  :

– Best 11s are pretty often stupid. There are never any defensive midfielders.

– Rod Fanni : I think the guy is highly overrated. He is no better than Laurent Bonnart who’s had a stellar season or Anthony Réveillère who’s been solid for Lyon for now 5 years. None of these get any national team recognition because Domenech is a creature of habit. Nonetheless, Fanni remains a very good player but needs to get the heck away from Rennes if he wants to have the chance to do something good with his career.

– Mickaël Ciani : Given his  performances in 2010, he is nowhere near best XI level. His failure to perform in 2010 is one of the main reasons Bordeaux is 6th right now. He totally fell apart after his start versus Spain with the French national team, and made a fool of himself in the first leg versus Lyon in the Champions League. If anyone, his partner Marc Planus deserves this spot.

– Benoît Cheyrou : I know he had a good season, but interestingly, Marseille started being more successful around the time he was benched, in favor of Charles Kaboré and Edouard Cissé ; obvisouly, he is a player Marseille can do without. When you look at the other players, one can argue that their team would be considerably weakened in their absence. This is going to sound biased, but I would have inserted Jérémy Toulalan here. He is a real defensive midfielder, a regular on the French national team who will start the World Cup ; and an essential piece of Lyon, who’s been admirable as well in the midfield as when he played defense. Cheyrou seems to have been chosen just to satisfy/reward the Marseille hype.

Best Goal of the season : Mamadou Niang

All the goals were beautiful, but the reason this one was chosen is pretty easy : Marseille has the biggest/most active fanbase, and therefore it was a given that Niang’s goal would win. I personally feel that Moussilou’s goal should have clinched it, but that’s how the voting goes.

Ligue 1 Best Player of the season : Lisandro Lopez

It was anyone’s trophy : Chamark, Niang and Hazard would have deserved it too. But Lisandro brought energy and a new face no one will forget. His never-die attitude, constant pressure on the defense, goal-poaching abilities quickly made him a fan favorite, even if you’re not a Lyon fan. And you can’t mess with someone who has such great facial hair.


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One Response

  1. It is nice to see Richard Branson present the award to Eden Hazard 🙂

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