2013/14 Ligue 1 Matchday 1 Preview

Today's big question...will Lisandro's departure hurt Lyon?

Today’s big question…will Lisandro’s departure hurt Lyon?

Well, with the long awaited season upon us, it is time to pull out the jerseys, find those internet streams we haven’t used in the last few weeks, fire up the DVRs for the games we want to watch later and crack out the French-English dictionaries because Ligue 1 season is finally here. Gone are all of the preseason games that mean nothing, as well as the hype around only two teams. Now we are at the point where those “mega teams” need to prove themselves.

Of course, the transfer market this summer makes Ligue 1 a much different looking league than we had before. One of the newly promoted teams is vying for a Champions League spot. Some of the smaller teams have brought in really good talent. Other teams have lost a lot of their players in the summer, and questions remain on how they will perform this season.

So, with Matchday 1, what should we expect?
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2011-12 Ligue 1 Preview: 20th to 15th place.

With the Ligue 1 season just days away from starting, and with much of the transfer garbage behind us, we can now actually examine how the Ligue 1 season could possibly play out. Two years ago we saw an influx of players into Marseille and Lyon which changed the faces of their teams. This year, a number of teams will look quite different. Luckily for French football, the net gains seemed to have outweighed the net losses.

In this series of articles, I will be looking at my predictions for teams that I think will finish 20th to 15th place. As the days count down, I will move up the ladder, with my eventually Ligue 1 winner saved for last. So, here we go.

20th – Dijon: Every year, there is always one team that is promoted that actually surprises us and perform better than expected. Last year it was Brest. Could Dijon be one of those teams that people are underestimating?

Like Arles-Avignon last year, Dijon is bringing in a bunch of players that haven’t played with each other before. But, of course, this could be the standard for Ligue 1 this year. But unlike other teams, the transfers into Dijon fail to impress, much like Arles-Avignon. Yes, there are a few good players coming in, like Abdoulaye Meite of Marseille fame. But will bringing in some of these older players really make Dijon a better team? I fail to see that being the case.
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Lille do the double, win Ligue 1 title. Sochaux to Europa League.

Lille OSC: 2010-11 Ligue 1 Champions.

Lille OSC: 2010-11 Ligue 1 Champions.

After last week’s big win against Sochaux, Lille, who has not won a Ligue 1 championship since 1954, only had to score one point in their last two matches in order to secure the title. And trying to gain that point in the Parc des Princes isn’t the easiest of tasks. Yet Lille were up to that task as they drew with Paris St. Germain 2-2 and win the Ligue 1 title.

Unlike their French Cup match, which was pretty lame to say the least, this one was a barn-burner which saw a number of close chances for both teams as well as a number of confrontations as well. Lille opened up the scoring just five minutes into the match when Ludovic Obraniak, who scored the only goal in the French Cup final, knocked one in, making the score 1-0. After that, Paris were able to take control of the game, with a number of opportunities coming close for the home side.

In the third minute of stoppage time in the first half, PSG were able  to finally net that goal, with the goal scorer being Guillaume Hoarau, leveling the match at 1-1.
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Matchday 31 – What did we learn?

Benoit Cheyrou - the real "Player of the Year"?

1. Could lackluster end of season leave a bad taste in people’s mouth? – Usually around the end of a season, teams at the top of the table start elevating their level of play to try to either win the league or make a run for a Champions League position. But right now it doesn’t seem as if any of the teams really want the Ligue 1 title. Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, Lille and PSG have all played “less than average” games over the past few weeks, and one must really ask if any of them have the drive to win the championship. Instead of the best team pulling ahead of the rest, it is starting to look like “the team that doesn’t play the worse” might win this championship, which could damage the reputation of Ligue 1.

Because of this, we really can’t say who is the favorite to win the championship. We can’t pick out one team (like we did with Marseille last year) and say “ah ha, that is the team that will win it, they have the drive.” Instead, the end of the season might resemble the end of The Blair Witch Project, where people will be scratching their heads while leaving the theater saying “that’s it?”

So please, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, PSG or Rennes, can one of you please pick up your play so we can have at least a little bit of an idea on who really intends to make a serious run at the top spot in the table?
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Ligue 1′s Wish List for Winter Mercato Part II (Monaco to Valenciennes).

A Sessegnon move to St. Etienne the best option (Reuters)?

We are continuing our quick “needs list” from the other day with the rest of the teams, starting with Monaco.

Monaco – Easily, Monaco has to be one of the biggest upsets of the season. Yes, they do miss Nene, but they still should be a decent mid-table team. Still, one seriously has to wonder if the organization really thought that Daniel Niculae could provide Monaco with the same offensive success as Nene. Yes, he is a solid player, but really?

Anyway, Monaco seems to have some major problems with both their midfield and up front. Their midfield is sub par, though they do have a few players like Nampalys Mendy, who seems to have a bright future. Also, offensively, Chu Young Park really needs to find both some midfield and up front support, so that he isn’t the only one producing offensive chances. Therefore, finding some good, solid forwards and midfielders should be Monaco’s priority. If they don’t build their team now, they might lose some quality players. While Park has a contract extension until 2013, Ruffier’s contract expires in the summer.

Montpellier – During the off-season, many were wondering if the Costa-Montano tandem could be replaced by the Estrada-Giroud pair. And even with a few injuries this season, these two players have been able to work well together. True, they aren’t at the level of Costa-Montano, but they have the potential.
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Best French Logo – Round Three

So, in the first two rounds we have Marseille, EF Bastia, ASF Andrézieux-Bouthéon and Etoile Frejus Saint-Raphael moving on to the next round. Here is this round. Again, some big names:

Logos are below:

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Ligue 1 Matchday 18 Saturday recap.

Fabien, welcome back!

Fifty-two minutes into the Paris St. Germain vs. Monaco match, one wouldn’t be surprised if talk about erecting a bronze statue in the middle of the Champs de Mars far Nene was spreading around the Parc Des Princes. But after a late goal by Daniel Niculae, Monaco were able to grab a valuable point on the road, which assures that The Principality won’t drop to the bottom three in the league.

Going into this match, PSG were the expected favorites. And if you were to look at their play, they dominated the much weaker Monaco side. In addition, Nene continued to show that he can score goals from anywhere, especially in long-range situations. With his two goals in this match, Nene is now tied with Moussa Sow for the Ligue 1 lead in goals scored at thirteen.

Still, even with Paris holding on two a 2-1 lead late in the match, their lack of concentration led to the game tying goal by Monaco. After Stephane Sessegnon went down to injury, referee Lionel Jeffredo continued play even with Sessegnon down. During this time, Monaco moved the ball into the PSG third of the pitch, where they caught the home side napping, mostly because many of their players were expecting the whistle to blow due to the Sessegnon injury. This led to Daniel Niculae sneaking in and score the game-tying goal.

After the match, both Guy Lacombe and Antoine Kombouare were yelling at one another in the tunnel. Sylvain Armand also had a bit of a “discussion” with Jeffredo. Still, while Jeffredo should have blown the whistle, PSG should have continued to play, which they did not. They deserved this loss.
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