Ligue 1 Recap: André Villas-Boas, Christophe Galtier and Rudi Garcia make up the unbeaten trio

Monaco’s Pietro Pellegri, left, scores his side’s opening goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Monaco at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq, northern France, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Disrespect among those in the footballing community towards Ligue 1 is not something new. Frequently, fans of other leagues — such as the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, and La Liga Santander — refer to teams other than Paris-Saint Germain as “farmers.” What they basically are saying is that the competition level in French’s premier footballing division is extremely poor. However, if there’s been any year that has dispelled this lie, it would be this year.

PSG sit just two points clear at the top, with the second, third and fourth positions made up by the “unbeaten trio,” who, with limited economic support, have been able to truly put the pressure on the Qatari backed club.

LOSC Lille defeated AS Monaco 2-1 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy on Sunday, Dec. 6 thanks to goals by winger Jonathan David and attacking midfielder Yusuf Yazici. “Les Dogues” continued their great form in all competitions with a victory over Monaco. Lille’s only loss in all competitions this season was on Nov. 8 to Stade Brestois 29. The continued excellence by Galtier’s team, that seems to be playing with “wind in their sails,” is followed by an extension of the form we’ve seen from young, promising attacking midfielder Yazici. Arguably the second most in-form forward in the league behind fellow Turkish international Burak Yilmaz, he now has three goals in 11 Ligue 1 matches. Moreover, the Turkish international is the top goalscorer for the club in the UEFA Europa League with six goals in five matches.

Despite the intimidating attack, Monaco were not afraid to attack the Lille back-line, with manager Niko Kovač instructing the team to put a large amount of pressure on them throughout the first half. However, Lille remained firm, with veteran José Fonte making sure that everyone remained tactically disciplined, while also not allowing clear-cut opportunities for “Les Monégasques.”

Ultimately, Galtier’s attack would prove to be too much to handle. Winger Jonathan Ikoné was able to dribble past defenders to get into the box and play a ball to fellow winger Jonathan Bamba, who slotted it into the top left corner. Yilmaz’s play off the ball would be crucial for “Les Dogues” success. Not only was he the catalyst for the first goal of the match, but assisted Yazici for the second goal of the game.

Monaco’s Youssouf Fofana is tackled during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Monaco at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq, northern France, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Lille remained in second place in the table with 26 points, while Monaco fell to fifth with 23 points.

Olympique de Marseille travelled to the Stade Des Costieres to face Nîmes Olympique On Friday, Dec. 4. Going into the contest, “Les Olympiens” were riding a two-game winning streak in all competitions, and had in their last 13 outings away from home in the league. That streak would extend itself to 14 after forwards Darío Benedetto and Valère Germain led the team to a convincing 2-0 victory.

All things considered, the team’s from this year have been astonishing to say the least. Their 14-match unbeaten run away from home is the longest streak in the top five European leagues, and the team’s longest away unbeaten streak since January of 2008, which saw them fail to lose away from the Stade Vélodrome until January of 2009. Moreover, this is the team’s best start to a season since head coach “El Loco” Marcelo Bielsa managed them in 2014-15.

Altogether, the Portuegese manager has been able to keep the faith despite their poor run in Europe, which has seen them lose all but one match. This is extremely commendable, due to the fact that such poor form usually has its consequences, which makes it all the more surprising that the team seems to struggle only in the UEFA Champions League. Some leeway should be given to Boas, who is taking over a Marseille squad that hasn’t been in the continent’s elite competition since 2013-14, let alone legitimate contenders for quite some time.

Marseille rose to fourth in the table with 24 points, while Nîmes fell to 16th with 11 points.

Olympique Lyonnais were led to victory thanks to efforts from forwards Memphis Depay and Karl Toko Ekambi, respectively. Since “Les Gones” failed to make European football, they have gone under the radar in the footballing world. In spite of this, Garcia is truly changing the culture at Lyon, something we should take note of and commend.

The team traveled to the Stade Municipal Saint Symphorien on Sunday, Dec. 6 to take on FC Metz. The attack of Lyonnais was simply too much to handle for a Metz team that has not won since Nov. 1. Depay lurked around the area and found his first goal early in the first half, while wingers Ekambi and Tino Kadewere caused havoc on the wings. Ekambi’s efforts finally paid dividends, as he opened up the second half with the team’s second goal of the game, before making it three for “Les Gones” in the 60th minute.

Lyon’s Memphis Depay controls the ball during the French League One soccer match between Lyon and Reims in Decines, near Lyon, central France, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Garcia’s men now extend their winning streak to 10 games. Throughout these 10 matches, they have won six and drawn four. With this result, Lyonnais rose to third in the table with 26 points, while Metz remained in 13th with 16 points.

Manager Thomas Tuchel was able to get a crucial victory away at the Stade De La Mosson Et Du Mondial 98 against Montpellier Hérault on Saturday, Dec. 5 to keep the Parisian club at the top of the league, with a fairly limited squad, with the German manager wanting to rest his key players before their crucial Champions League matchup against İstanbul Başakşehir F.K.

Forward Moise Kean was able to continue his excellent form since moving to Paris on loan from Everton in the Summer. He scored Paris’s second goal of the match, and his fifth in his first seven Ligue 1 matchups. He currently has seven goals in 12 appearances in all competitions.

The player who opened the scoring for “Les Parisiens” was right-back Colin Dagba, with the 22-year-old continuing to make a case for a starting role at the club. However, the most noteworthy of the match came when Kylian Mbappé scored the team’s third of the match in second half stoppage time. With this goal, Mbappé has reached 100 career goals with the Parisian club. The 21-year-old now joins the exclusive “100 or more goal club” with PSG, tied with legend Dominique Rocheteau in fourth, and behind Pauleta in third, Zlatan Ibrahimović in second, and Edinson Cavani in first. As a result, the 21-year-old is now 100 goals behind Paris’s all-time leading goalscorer Cavani, who scored 200 goals at the French capital.

Montpellier’s four game winning streak is snapped at the hands of “Les Parisiens.” Now, they fall to sixth in the table with 23 points, while Paris SG stay in first with 28 points.

Round 13 finished off with Mbappé as the league’s top goalscorer with 10 goals, followed by Stade De Reims forward Boulaye Dia in second with 8, and Montpellier forward Andy Delort in third with six. Delort’s feat is definitely more impressive, considering the fact that all of his goals have come from open play; compare this to the fact Mbappé and Dia scored off three penalties, respectively, and you realize the feat by the Montpellier skipper is much more difficult, and should be given more credit.

The top three players with the most assists goes as follows: Lille winger Jonathan Bamba, Montpellier forward Gaëtan Laborde, and Marseille winger Florian Thauvin are all tied joint-first with five assists, with four of Thauvin’s five coming off free kicks. On the contrary, Bamba’s and Laborde’s assists have all come from open play.

Leave a Reply