Ligue 1 round-up: Marseille hammer St. Etienne, no give in three-way title race

Ligue 1

Angers-Paris Saint Germain

The first match of the 33rd round Ligue 1 fixtures came between Angers and PSG. Friday’s match was played at the Stade Raymond Kopa, in front of nearly 16,000 people. As seen throughout the course of the season, winning at Angers’s home is not an easy task, and last week was a perfect example of it, when Monaco defeated them just 1-0. The home side started with the same 4-1-4-1 from last weekend, with Alexandre Letellier in goal. Issa Cissokho and Vincent Manceau played as fullbacks and had the difficult task of marking PSG’s quick wingers. Baptiste Santamaria played as a lone center defensive midfielder, with Cheikh Ndoye playing in front of him. Perhaps with the most solid performance for the home team, Karl Toko Ekambi played as a left midfielder. He was very active down Serge Aurier’s flank. The away side played with Emery’s usual 4-3-3, with Trapp in goal, Aurier and Maxwell as fullbacks, and Marquinhos as a leading defender. Their midfield triangle consisted of Rabiot, Matuidi and midfield maestro Marco Veratti. Up top were Angel di Maria, who was the man of the match, Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, who was subbed off in the 69th minute.

The match started with ambitious PSG holding long possessions from one flank to the other, taking control of the game. The first goal of the game came from a spectacular free kick from long range, with di Maria riffling a shot into the top corner. The match was back and forth from then with Trapp having to intervene more than usual. The first half ended 0-1.

Angers took the initiative in the second half. They could not manage an equalizer, with their closest attempt coming in the 70th minute from a header by Ndoye, resulting in a spectacular save by Trapp. The killer second goal came late in the match, when di Maria rounded off a PSG counter attack for his second of the game. The game ended 2-0 to PSG.

The home side are 13th with 39 points, while Paris Saint Germain are 2nd with 74. They are 3 points behind Monaco.

Nice-Nancy

The first match played on Saturday was between Nice and Nancy. Lucien Favre’s used their usual 4-2-3-1. Yoan Cardinale played as GK, with Dalbert as LB, Dante as CB, and Arnaud Souquet playing on the right. The midfield consisted of Jean Seri and Vincent Koziello, and Valentin Eysseric performing on the left. With his first start of the season, Mickael Bihan played as a lone striker. The away side played with a 4-3-3, with Erick Cabaco and Michael Chretien commanding the defense. Benoit Pedretti played in the center of a three-man midfield, with Maurice Dale playing as a striker.

The game started with a surprising opener by the away side. Maurice Dale opened the score in the 26th minute, with a close range finish following a corner. Michael Le Bihan managed the equalizer with a nice finish inside the box, in the 35th minute. The first half ended 1-1. The second half started with a penalty on Dalbert, which Seri converted to give Nice the lead. Seri added another late on to secure the points for Nice. The game ended 3-1 win to the home side.

They hold their firm run, as Favre’s side are 3rd with 73 points. Nice, on the other hand, are 17th with 31 points. They are likely to be relegated due to Lorient’s positive end of the season.

Metz-Caen

The following match saw bottom half of the table teams battle in an entertaining match. The home side started with a 4-2-3-1, with Thomas Didillon playing in goal. Ivan Balliu performed amazing as a right back, providing both assists for his home team. Their midfield consisted of Georges Mandjeck playing alongside Cheick Doukoure. Most of the home teams attack involved right midfielder Opa Nguette and striker Cheick Diabate. Caen varied from their usual 5-men defense to switch to a 4-1-4-1. Remy Vercoutre played in goal while Damien da Silva commanded the away defense. Julien Feret and Sylvio Rodelin performed great in midfield, with Ivan Santini playing as a lone striker. Compared to the scoreless first half, which also included many chances, the second half was one of those games that fans don’t forget. Ismaila Sarr scored the opener after 66 minutes, with the away side tying things up 8 mins later via striker Ivan Santini. What seemed to be the winning goal of the game was scored by Cheick Diabate in the 83rd minute, but Sylvio Rodelin ruined the home sides hopes of taking 3 points, scoring the equaliser just 90 seconds before the final whistle. The game ended in a rather entertaining 2-2 tie – a result that doesn’t benefit either side.

Metz are now 15th with 36 points, while Caen are 16th with 33.

EA Guingamp-Toulouse

The next game saw Guingamp battle Toulouse in a mid-table match. The home side used an old school 4-4-2 with Jordan Ikoko and in form Fernando Marcal playing as fullbacks. Right midfielder Yannis Salibur created a lot of problems down his flank. Etienne Didot controlled the midfield and provided an assist. Alexandre Mendy played alongside Jimmy Briand up front. The away club began with a 4-1-4-1, with young starlet Alban Lafont in goal. Issa Diop underperformed as a center back, while Oscar Trejo put together the most positive performance for his team. Club star Martin Braithwaite was unable to penetrate the home side’s defense, and was subbed off after 63 minutes.

The game began with an entertaining first half that had much pace to it. Both teams wanted to take the initiative, resulting in a well fought battle in the midfield. The first half ended goalless. The opener came 8 mins after the break, when Jimmy Briand finished from the spot for the partial 1-0. The second goal of the game would also be for the home side, and came just 9 minutes after via Alexandre Mendy. Andy Delort scored the 2-1 to make the final 20 minutes of the match interesting enough, however Toulouse failed to get another goal, resulting in a 2-1 win for the home side.

EA Guingamp are 8th with 44 points, while Toulouse are 11th with 41 points.

Rennes-Lille

The next game saw Lille visit Rennes at the Roazhon Park, in front of 24,056 people. The home side begun with a 4-4-2, with Benoit Costil guarding the goal. In front of him where Mexer and Joris Gnagnon, who managed a brilliant game in defense, resulting a clean sheet. Firmin Mubele had a proactive game down the flank, while Giovanni Sio was the leader in attack, as usual. Lille played a 4-2-3-1, with Vincent Enyeama in goal and Sebastien Corchia as a right back. Consistent Xeka (Miguel Angelo da Silva) did not fail to be the best on his team. Nicolas de Preville also performed well as a ‘number 10’, with hated Eder Macedo Lopes playing as a solitary striker.

The match began with a rapid opener by right midfielder Firmin Mubele Ndombe. After the 1-0, the home side did not back down. The goal appeared to give them as much confidence as they’ve had in a while, and were able to put together beautiful, associative, attacking football. They managed to score the 2-0 through striker Giovanni Sio. The first half ended 2-0. After that, Rennes’ game changed from direct attacks to long possessions, which slowed down the tempo of the game. The second half was very different, for Rennes appeared happy with the result and decided to guard it. The match ended with a 2-0 win for Rennes over Lille.

Rennes are now 9th in the table with 43 points. Lille, on the other hand, are 14th with 37 points.

Montpellier-Lorient

The following game had Montpellier challenge in-form Lorient at the Stade de la Mosson. The home side played with the popular 4-2-3-1, with Laurent Pionnier in goal. Nordi Mukiele was immense as right back, providing support to the defense and a passing option for right midfielder Isaac Mbenza, who also had a brilliant game down the right. Stepahane Sessegnon played deeper than usual, performing as a central midfielder, rather than in the 3-men line above them. Star Ryad Boudebouz had himself an amazing evening, providing a goal, 7 crosses, and a shot against the post. Lorient aligned with their 4-4-2, the lineup which allowed them to win 3 games straight, a task extremely unlikely for a team in relegation zone. They started Benjamin Lecomte in goal, with Michael Ciani and Mathieu Peybernes forming the backbone of the away defense. In the middle was Arnold Mvuemba, who was the best out of the 4-men midfield. Skillful Sylvain Marveaux and Benjamin Moukandjo played up top, providing electric pace for counter attacks.

The match began with a rapid opener by the one and only Boudebouz just 8 minutes into the game. 20 minutes later, Montpellier doubled their lead. It was Issac Mbenza who scored the second goal of the match from a pass from Steve Mounie, in the 27th minute. The home side’s active start resulted in a lot of fatigue, which later showed in the second half. Most of their football came in the first half, as they dedicated to closing the result towards the end to get the 3 points. Massive credit to Montpellier for defeating in-form Lorient, for the win was not as easy as it may appear to be on paper.

Montpellier are 12th with 39 points, while Lorient are 18th with 31 points after 33 matches.

Monaco-Dijon

With perhaps one of the most brilliant campaigns this season, Monaco looked to continue their quest for the Ligue 1 title. They played at home against relegation threatened Dijon. The home side aligned with their successful 4-4-2 yet again, with regular Danijel Subasic guarding the goal. Benjamin Mendy, recently recovered from an injury, performed on the left, while Kamil Glik was yet again the leader in defense. The second line of 4 consisted of the magical Bernardo Silva, Fabinho Tabares, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and unusual Nabil Dirar, who seems to be giving it his all whenever he gets minutes under Leonardo Jardim. Up top were French prodigy Kylian Mbappe Lottin and underrated Valere Germain. The away side started with a 4-3-3, with Baptiste Reynet guarding the goal. Cedric Varrault played as a CB, while Fouad Chafik acted solid in the right back position. In attack were Julio Tavares and Lois Diony, who did not manage much activity in the attacking third.

The game started with a surprising opener 3 minutes before the break, when Cedric Varrault headed home the 0-1. The match continued with the home side owning the offensive play, with small-club Dijon looking to defend the score. Monaco equalised in 69th minute, when Falcao hit a shot against the post from a free kick, for Nabil Dirar to finish with no goalkeeper. The 1-1 just made Monaco push even further, and in the 81st minute, again through a free kick, Falcao riffled a shot into the top right corner for the conclusive 2-1.

Monaco maintain their hopes of winning Ligue 1. They are first with 77 points, 3 ahead of PSG. Dijon, on the other extreme, are 19th with 29 points.

Nantes-Bordeaux

The first game played on Sunday came between Nantes and Bordeaux at the Stade de la Beaujoire. The home side played with an old school 4-4-2, with Maxime Dupe in goal, and Leo Dubois as a right back. Alexander Kacaniklic and Guillaume Gillet acted in midfield, with a firm defensive contribution. Emiliano Sala and in-form Prejuce Nakoulma played as strikers. The away side played with a 4-3-3, with Igor Lewczuk and Nicolas Pallois doing a good job to maintain the clean sheet. In the midfield, with the best performance of the match, Younousse Sankhare. Up top played young skillful Malcom Filipe Silva, and young speedster Francois Kamano.

The first half was rather boring for the spectators, with neither team being able to put together some combination plays or attacking crosses. The first half ended 0-0. It was not until the 65th minute when Sankhare scored the only game of the match, to give Bordeaux a 0-1 win.

Nantes are 10th with 42 points, while Bordeaux are 5th with 52.

SC Bastia-Lyon

This match suspended due to the home fans running onto the pitch and attacking the Lyon players.

Marseille-Saint Etienne

The last match of the 33rd round of fixtures came between Marseille and Saint Etienne at the beautiful Stade Orange Velodrome, in front of nearly 55,000 people. The home side aligned with a 4-3-3, with Yohann Pele in goal, and veteran Patrice Evra as a left back. Maxime Lopez and Morgan Sanson were in charge of controlling the game, and they succeeded. They accounted for 113 passes between the both of them. Up top played were starting trio Florian Thauvin, Bafetimbi Gomis, and Dimitri Payet. The away side started with a 4-2-3-1. They placed Stephane Ruffier in goal, who was absolutely hammered throughout the match, party due to the poor defensive efforts from Kevin Theophile-Catherine and Leo Lacroix. Jordan Veretout failed to be a protagonist in the midfield, while Robert Beric failed to do so up top as a striker.

The whole 90 minutes was one sided, as Florian Thauvin scored the opener in the 22nd minute. The French international performed one of his best games of his breakthrough season. Gomis scored the 2-0 in the 31st minute, ending the half with a 2-0 score. The goals kept coming, as Thauvin scored his brace in the 58th minute. Dimitri Payet decorated the score in the 93rd minute, for a concluding 4-0.

Marseille are 6th with 51 points, while direct rivals Saint-Etienne are 7th with 45 points.

Final Results

Angers 0-2 PSG
Nice 3-1 Nancy
Metz 2-2 Caen
Guingamp 2-1 Toulouse
Rennes 2-0 Lille
Montpellier 2-0 Lorient
Monaco 2-1 Dijon
Nantes 0-1 Bordeaux
SC Bastia-Lyon: Suspended
Marseille 4-0 Saint-Etienne