The French match week started with 1-0 victory from home side Metz over SC Bastia. The only goal of the game came from an own goal from Gilles Cioni. The French right back certainly did not have his day, having received a yellow card at the 38th minute, scoring an own goal in the 48th minute, and being subbed off just before the 60th minute mark. Metz are now 7 points clear from relegation, while Bastia are likely to be relegated, sitting in 19th position with just 25 points in 30 games.
Next came a more promising match between Lille and Marseille. Marseille aligned in a 4-3-3 with an astonishing trio in attack, composed by French sensation Florian Thauvin, Remy Cabella as a false 9 and recently arrived- Dimitri Payet on the left. While Lille formed a classical 4-2-3-1 with Corchia and Beria providing the width as wing-backs, and constantly getting involved in the attack. Up front for the home side was “Euro-winning goal scorer” Eder. The match failed to please the fans, since its way both scoreless and not entertaining to watch. With only 6 shots on target in total and, as stated by fans when interviewed during the week: “The match had a slow pace. Sometimes the players seem like they could give a little more effort. We must be with them during hard times, stand beside them, but we must have a feeling that we are backed up them, as much as they are backed by us.” Bad times continue at Lille as they stand 14th in the table, but are hoping Argentine genius Marcelo Bielsa can turn things around next summer, and he most surely will do so. As for Marseille, they end the match 5th, 4 points behind 4th place Lyon, who also failed to win over the weekend.
The third match of the weekend consisted of Nantes vs Nice. The home team aligned with the trendy 4-2-2 with Gillet in the middle providing a strong backbone and balance to the home side. Along him stood Rongier, who was debatebaly the best player for the home side along French right back Leo Dubois, who had a solid game attacking, and a lot of work defensively against a powerful side such as Nice. The visiting team played with a 4-2-3-1, with a solid Cardinale in goal, Dante leading the defense, skillful Belhanda as a number 10, with Seri in the middle, scoring a beautiful rocket into the top corner. The match ended with a 1-1 tie. Although no team took the 3 points in this one, the spectators saw two beautiful goals scored by Emiliano Sala and J. Seri. The away team previously contended for the Ligue 1 title this season, but now seem to fall behind in the race with this tie. They stand 7 points away from Monaco and 4 away from PSG, with 8 games left. A point in their favor, however, is that Monaco host PSG next week, assuring them one of the two will drop points, if not both of them. Nice are a mid-table team positioned 11th with 38 points across 30 matches in the competition.
Probably one of the most exciting matches in Europe over the weekend, Nancy-Lorient. With both sides positioned low in the relegation zone of Ligue 1, both teams were desperate for 3 points. Nancy started with a 4-3-3, with winger Issiar Dia on the right, having a great game with a cross to Maouassa that opened the score and later scoring a penalty to give his team a 2-0 lead. The interesting part came when Lorient pulled one back via an easy pass to the net from Africa Cup of Nations winner Moukandjo in the 66th minute. The away side, with nothing to lose, started pushing through with what they had, started pressuring the ball in the attacking third, started putting crosses into the box, and managed an equalizer in the 86th minute via Wesley Lautoa. After 94 minutes of 95 to be played, the away side exploded through a counter attack and scored a goal similar to their first, with a pass to the net from midfielder Mvuemba, to close the final 2-3 score. Both sides are still in a relegation battle, with Lorient positioned at last place with just 25 points from 30 matches, while Nancy are 18th with 28 points in 30, meaning they will both keep fighting to remain in Ligue 1.
Next came the most one sided match of the weekend in France. The home side, with a 4-2-3-1, played very attacking football through the wings. They exploited the flanks trough their wingbacks Sabaly and Contento, and their pacey young wingers Malcom and Kamano. Malcom scored one in the added time to make the score 5-1. Uruguayan forward Diego Rolan scored two, including the opener in the 25th and the 4-1, in the 76th minute. Sankhare and Vada scored the remaining two goals, with starlet Ryad Boudebouuz scoring the only goal for the away side. The Algerian creative midfielder has been one of the few positive sides to the season for the club, since they fell down to 15th place, only 5 away from 18th place. As for Bodeaux, they remain with their solid season and are positioned 6th with 46 points after 40 games, 4 behind Europa League automatic-qualifier, at the moment, Lyon.
Next came a battle between Toulouse and Rennes that ended in a 0-0 draw. Although there were a couple emotions during the game, such as few combination plays and crosses, a red card, and a solid performance from Rennes goalkeeper Costil. The home side aligned with a much used 4-2-3-1, with young center back Issa Diop completing a great game in defense, and eventually covered many areas that had a missing man because of his 20 year old friend Alexis Blin, who managed to get sent off with 2 yellow cards within 6 minutes of themselves. The home side failed to constantly circulate the ball between their attacking players such as explosive Corentin Jean and Martin Braithwaite, possibly the best player for many years now in the club. He most certainly misses Wissan Ben-Yedder from last season, who is now enjoying the footballing mentality of Jorge Sampaoli at Sevilla. Toulouse stand 8th with 39 points, and Toulouse stand 12th with 37 points.
The last match played on Saturday came between Angers and Guingamp. The western side, recently promoted in 2015 to Ligue 1, hosted direct rivals Guingamp, who were positioned on top of Angers before the match, but ended up losing to the home side to a 3-0 score. The final result is rather misleading, since the game was extremely levelled up until the 63rd minute mark, when Jonathan Bamba scored the opener, assisted by the player of the game, Thomas Mangani. The French 29 year old midfielder positioned himself as a left central midfielder in a 3 man midfield, and commanded the game both in attack, defense, while managing the rhythm and the tempo at which the game was played. Jonathan Bamba later returned Mangiani the favor, with an assist that led to the 2-0, in the 69th minute. The third goal was scored by the subbed-on Diedhiou, who came on for Capelle and played as a left winger. The game ended with a notorious 3-0 victory for the home side. Angers stand 9th with 39 points, while Guingamp stand 10th with 38 point. Both teams are part of the very tough middle of the table that is forming in Ligue 1. Between the 10th place Guingamp and the relegation zone only stand 10 points, meaning that there are 8 teams within that 10 point range.
The first match played on Sunday was Caen-Monaco. The away side recently experienced a magical UEFA Champions League night at their stadium, beating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 3-1, overcoming a 5-3 defeat from the first leg. Caen aligned with a defensive 5-3-2, while Monaco aligned with their usual 4-4-2, with Mendy on the left Fabinho and Moutinho in the middle, Lemar attacking the wing down the left, and wonderkid Mbappe Lottin up front. The 18 year-old has managed to be directly involved in 17 goals in 22 matches this year in League 1 for Monaco. He netted in the first goal of the game after just 13 minutes, coming from a longball combination play with his underrated partner in attack Valere Germain, which he later dribbled past a defender and riffled a shot into the bottom right corner of the net. He later scored the concluding 3-0 in the 81st minute, with a header coming from a brilliant Joao Moutinho cross. Fabinho, from the penalty spot, scored the 2-0 in the 49th minute, drizzling a shot into the top left corner. Monaco keep up their amazing season, maintaining themselves at the top of the league with 8 matches to go. They stand tall with 71 points in 30 games. They have also scored 87 goals this season from league play, most by any European team this season. Clearly Leonadro Jardim, the Venezuelan manager, has found the right tactics and pieces for this Monaco side to be one of the most entertaining, if not the most, across Europe. Caen fall to the 16th position, just 2 points shy of relegation zone.
The second match on Sunday was Dijon versus Saint-Etienne. The home side played with a 4-3-3 with Loties as a center back and Abeid, Balmont, and Lees-Melou in the middle. The away team aligned with a 4-2-3-1, in which they showed an amazing defensive effort throughout the game. GK Ruffier had a solid match, along with their defensive 4 all playing great defensive matches. Perrin and Theophile-Catherine led the backline to a clean sheet, and Veretout scored the only goal of the game, off Monnet-Pasquet’s pass. The game ended with a 0-1 victory for the away team, as the stand 7th in the league with 44 points, while Dijon stand 17th in the league, with 28 points.
The most awaited match in League 1 this weekend. Recently eliminated from the Champions League, PSG are looking to give the league all they got, since they cannot afford to lose this League 1 title, or Unai Emery will most likely pack his bags in the summer, which in my opinion, he should not. But we all know the footballing world and how directives approach the game. Paris Saint Germain aligned with a 4-3-3, with Trapp in goal, Marquinhos and Silva in the back, a midfield consisting of Verratti, Rabiot, and Pastore, a perfect mixture between ball circulation, talent, attack, defense, and rapid pressure in any direction. Up top where Angle di Maria, Europe’s top goal scorer Edinson Cavani, and winter-signing Draxler. While Lyon played with a 4-2-3-1, they played with French international, box to box Corentin Tolisso, and Gonalons in the middle. While PSG could not attack much through the middle because of the solid foundation showed by these two, they attacked through the wings, and Lyon most certainly not as good to defend these areas of the pitch. The three attacking players behind Lacazette where Memphis Depay, recently having scored a screamer from half court last week, Fekir, and Valbuena. The game was very tactical and both teams seemed to want to take the 3 points throughout. Lyon scored first, via Lacazette’s header from close range after a corner kick. Adrien Rabiot later equalized in the 34th minute with a close range finish to beat Lopes, after a pass from Pastore. Julian Draxler scored the winner in the 40th minute, with a one-timed shot to the side of Lopes.
PSG stand 2nd in the league, with 68 points, just 3 behind Monaco. Lyon are 4th, with 50 points through 29 matches in League 1.