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Ligue 1 Matchday 19: What did we learn?

Last time the top French league was this close, this man was President.

Well, the first half of the season is over, and there is a lot that we can go over. But, for now, we will just do a our weekly recap of “what did we learn” in another unpredictable match day of Ligue 1 play. Also, this is the last one that we will be doing in 2010.

As you know, it will be nearly a month before Ligue 1 starts again. During this time, we will be working on previews of the French Cup competition, which will start shortly after the New Year. We will also be continuing our “Best French Logo” contest. Round 2 will be today, and we will have a few big names in this round.

So, what did we learn (and forgive me if this might be a little “PSG heavy”).

1. This Ligue 1 season, anyone can win it – From 1st Lille to 10th place Montpellier, there is only a five point gap. So, in what season did we see the top 10 teams this close? Let me give you some hints. During this football season:

  • France Gall would win Eurovision with “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”
  • Rolling Stones start their 2nd US Tour, Beatles hold all Top 5 Billboard spots in US.
  • Graham Hill wins his third Monaco Grand Prix.
  • The Maple Leaf becomes Canada’s official flag.
  • Harold Wilson becomes British PM, Lyndon Johnson elected US President.
  • Bordeaux leads the Ligue 1 standings, Lyon 3rd, Marseille not even in the top flight.

Therefore, it has been a long time (1964-65 season). And with how unpredictable play is, it is really anyone’s championship to win. Oh, and Nantes won that year.

2. Paris St. Germain doesn’t play well a man down – Of course, any team doesn’t play as well with 10 men as they would with 11, but PSG really looked bad being a man down yesterday against Nancy. Nancy won the match 2-0, but could have easily won by more. In addition to PSG losing Mamadou Sakho in 14th minute, PSG’s stars like Nene, Guillaume Hoarau and others were basically ineffective.

3. If not Coupet, PSG needs to find someone else – Yes, PSG was a man down, and we know that if a team is a man down that the team with the advantage will do whatever they can to put offensive pressure on the 10-man team. That is a given. Even so, Edel had another poor night in goal, where he was out of position, let in some soft goals and continued to direct rebounds in positions where opposing strikers nearly have an empty net to shoot at.

In the first goal that was allowed by Edel, he came out to cut down the angle, which is fine. But instead of aggressively trying to make the play, he let Hadji shoot the ball over him. So, should Edel have come out to cut down the angle? It seems that he doesn’t have confidence in letting his defenders take care of things which, honestly, maybe he shouldn’t.

The second goal was due to a poorly directed rebound. This is the difference between some like Hugo Lloris and Edel. While Lloris does give up a few rebounds, as he mostly tries to hold the ball, Edel doesn’t seem to have the hands.

If PSG is smart they should make some changes. There are some good keepers out there. Also, if they don’t play Gregory Coupet, they should just sell him or loan him out. That would be best for both PSG and Coupet.

4. Officials still need to get their eyes checked – Official Said Ennjimi continued another week of poor Ligue 1 officiating, when he denied Lille a penalty kick by missing a blatant call against St. Etienne. During the match, star midfielder Eden Hazard came in on goal, only to be nearly American football-style tackled by a St. Etienne defender (didn’t see which one). Anyway, something that should have been an easy call for and official wasn’t for Ennjini. And while Lille totally outplayed ASSE in the match, the ironic thing is that ASSE equalized the game off a penalty kick.

5. Big teams can’t find the points – With the exception of PSG, who were a man down early, Marseille, Rennes, Lille and Lyon outplayed their opponents, and were either defeated or the match ended in a draw. The question is why is this happening? Are the top teams getting worse, or are the smaller teams getting better? Basically, this has been a very unpredictable season, and we really can’t answer that question yet. In fact, we might not be able to answer it at all.

Part of this question might actually be answered during the French Cup. Lyon will have to take on Caen in Cup competition, PSG will have to take on Lens. Marseille will take on Ligue 2-leading Evian. Rennes will take on AS Cannes, which might not seem like a big deal, but they do have former Monaco striker Jan Koller. Therefore, even against weaker opponents, we should see the full potential of some of the top teams in the next round of the French Cup.

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