Ligue 1 Roundup: PSG left needing snookers

Ligue 1

Angers-Lyon

The first game of the weekend had competing Angers battle Lyon on Friday, April 28th at the Stade Raymond Kopa. The home side, with only 1 win in their last 5, aligned with a 4-3-3 formation, with Alexandre Letellier as a GK. Both centre backs underperformed, as Romain Thomas was not able to defend Fekir, his centre back partner Mateo Pavlovic was sent off for receiving 2 yellow cards. Angers’ midfield, however, was a complete different story from the defensive line. They were able to control the tempo of the game for many minutes, while providing passes for their whole team. The 3-man midfield consisted of Cheikh Ndoye, Baptiste Santamaria, and Thomas Mangani. Famara Diedhiou played as a striker, however he was subbed off due to his lack of presence in attack.

The away side aligned with a 4-2-3-1, with Anthony Lopes completing a positive outing for his club, accounting for 4 crucial saves that could have seen the score affected negatively for his team. Christophe Jallet played as a RB, while Nicolas N’Koulou was the real leader of the defensive line. Young talent Lucas Tousart had an irregular performance, for he wasn’t able to remain as a constant participant in the game; he seemed lost in his positioning at times. Star Corentin Tolisso played as a ‘number 10’, a role that permits him to attack more, as his position as a CM obligates him to track back. Mathieu Valbuena and Maxwell Cornet played on the wings, while Nabil Fekir had a great game as a striker. His constant movements between the lines saw the home side lost when defending the Frenchman.

The match started with Lyon showing their superiority down the wings and by controlling the midfield. Valbuena managed to open the score just 17 minutes into the match. Nabil Fekir scored a couple minutes before the break to end the half 0-2. Lyon looked very tranquil in the second half, therefore they did not work nearly as hard as they did in the first half. Angers were the protagonist in the second half, as it was evident the home side were trying to get a point (or 3) out of the game. Cheikh Ndoye was quick to score the first goal of the match for the home side, as Lyon saw their winning chances stumble. The away side kept pressuring and increased the intensity at which they were playing, however they were unable to equalize the score. Lyon took a 1-2 win putting them 4th with 57 points whereas Angers are 14th with 39 points.

Monaco-Toulouse

The first match on Saturday had leaders Monaco host Toulouse at the Stade Louis II in front of 9,169 people. The home side, of course, played with their usual 4-4-2, with Danijel Subasic as a GK. Nabil Dirar replaced the injured Djibril Sidibe. Kamil Glik commanded the defensive saga, while Benjamin Mendy had a very offensive game down the left wing. Thomas Lemar and Bernardo Silva played as wide midfielders, with Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe Lottin as a striking partnership.

For Toulouse, young prodigy Alban Lafont played in goal, with Issa Diop having the only performance in defense that was worthy of recognition. Creative Oscar Trejo had a great first half, yet when Monaco started scoring he was unable to take control of the midfield. Ola Toivonen played as a left midfielder, accounting for the only goal of the game for his team.

The match started with Monaco enjoying numerous chances crashing against Alban Lafont. The game also had a lot of crossing to it, as 3 of the 4 goals came via crosses. The home side needed to get a win to keep their lead in France, and Ola Toivonen’s opener really made the Monaco panic for a couple minutes but their response was that of a winning team, as they managed an equalizer from Gliks header which was placed in the top corner. From one 18-year-old to the other, Kylian Mbappe Lottin surprised Lafont with a low effort at his near post, to give Monaco a 2-1 lead. Lemar scored the concluding goal, getting on the end of a cross from Dirar in the 75th minute. The game ended 3-1, and Monaco must win only 2 of the remaining 4 matches to be crowned champions of Ligue 1. They are in first place with 83 points, while Toulouse are 12th with 42 points.

Metz-Nancy

The following match had Metz host Nancy at the Stade Saint Symphorien in front of 20,000 people. Both sides being in the bottom four of the table were desperate for points. The home side played 4-2-3-1, with Japanese GK Eiji Kawashima in goal. Ivan Balliu was at right-back, while ex-Spurs player Benoit Assou-Ekotto played on the opposite side of the 4-man defensive line. Cheikh Doukoure had a solid outing in midfield, but it was Opa Nguette and Ismaila Sarr who led the attack. Sarr, born in 1998, was very active down the left wing.

The away side started with a 4-3-3. Guy N’Dy Assembe played in goal, while Joffrey Cuffaut and Erick Cabaco commanded the defense. Julien Cetout had the best performance for the away side in midfield, registering an assist and 31 passes. Faitout Maouassa scored the only goal for Nancy.

The match began with a great deal of intensity, as both teams started with physical football. Ismaila Sarr opened the score in the 29th minute but Nancy leveled just 10 minutes later through Maousassa, with Cetout getting the assist. The first half ended 1-1. The second half began with the home side looking like they were the ones that wanted to take the 3 points, and they did. Opa Nguette put his team in front just 9 minutes after the break, and the match ended with the 2-1 score. Metz are 15th with 39 points, while Nancy are positioned 19th with 32 points.

Guingamp-Saint Etienne

Next game had EA Guingamp host Saint-Etienne at the Municipal du Roudourou. The home team played with a 4-4-2 formation. Karl-Johan Johnsson had a good outing in goal, making 2 crucial saves. Cristophe Kerbrat and Jeremy Sorbon had trouble containing Saint Etienne’s heading qualities. Yannis Salibur played as a wide midfielder, with Alexandre Mendy playing as a striker.

The away side played with a 4-3-3, with Stephane Ruffier in goal. The Frenchman had a great game, keeping a clean sheet and 4 making important interventions. Loic Perrin and Kevin Theophile-Catherine acted as center backs, while Vincent Pajot and Jordan Veretout were responsible for the pace at which the ball was circulated. Romain Hamouma played as a right winger, netting from the spot near the end of the game.

The match began with an unsurprisingly levelled first half, which ended 0-0. Both teams enjoyed some chances, but no team was superior. The same cannot be said for the second half as Saint Etienne’s power headers started doing some serious damage. Vincent Pajot opened the scoring from a cross whipped in by Jordan Veretout, in the 61st minute. Both teams continued to enjoy chances, however the away side was attacking with much higher frequency than the home side. Romain Hamouma converted a penalty kick for the concluding 0-2 scoreline.

EA Guingamp are 10th in Ligue 1 with 44 points, while Saint Etienne are 7th with 49.

Nantes-Lorient

The upcoming match saw Nantes host Lorient at the Stade de la Beaujoire. The home side played with a 4-4-2, vowing for a solid structure similar to that of Lorient’s in their last games. Maxime Dupe was responsible in goal, while Leo Dubois played in his usual right-back position. Defensively, both Koffi Djidji and Diego Carlos (center-backs) had quality performances, and Guillaume Gillet did not fail to play up to his standards. Up front played in-form Prejuce Nakoulma.

The away team replicated their usual 4-4-2, with Benjamin Lecomte getting his 28th start of the season in Ligue 1. Steven Moreira played as a right-back, while Michael Ciani and Mathieu Peybernes acted as CB’s. Arnold Mvuemba was the powerhouse in central midfield, accompanied by Wesley Lautoa. While Benjamin Moukandjo and Majeed Waris failed to create scoring opportunities for Lorient.

The whole game was very similar, as the first half and the second half were played with more physique than football. Both teams, due to their lack of ideas, turned to crosses in seek of goal-scoring opportunities. The only goal of the game came from Emiliano Sala, as he scored a late dramatic winner in the 89th minute to give the home side the win. Nantes are 8th with 48 points, while the away side are 16th with 34 points. They recently escaped the relegation zone and are looking to stay in Ligue 1 for the next campaign.

SC Bastia-Rennes

The following game had relegation contenders SC Bastia hosting Rennes at home ground Stade Parsemain. The home team played a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Jean-Louis Leca having a stellar performance to go with his clean sheet. Abdoulaye Keita and Alexander Djiku had great games in defense. While Axel Ngando added an assist to a very good performance, but it was Enzo Cervelli who really made the difference in the game.

Rennes started with a 4-4-1-1, which turned into a 4-4-2 when defending. Benoit Costil was in goal, with Ramy Bensebaini and Ludovic Baal having good games at the back. Wesley Said acted as a wide midfielder, with Yoan Gourcuff and Giovanni Sio leading the attack.

The tough game commenced with neither side willing to take the initiative of the match. Consequently, the first half ended goalless. Enzo Cervelli bagged the only goal of the game in the 68th minute. The match ended 1-0 for the home side.They are last in Ligue 1 with just 31 points. Rennes are 9th with 44 points to their name.

Montpellier-Lille

The last game played on Saturday was between Lille and Montpellier. The match, played at the Stade de la Mosson, had little over 10,000 fans aboard. The home team’s starting shape was a 4-2-3-1, with Laurent Pionnier starting in GK. Lukas Pokorny and Nordi Mukiele played in defense, while Ellyes Skhiri and Stephane Sessegnon played as a midfield duo. Isaac Mbenza and Ryad Boudebouz were expected to be the ones in charge of creating chances for their team, however they failed to do so.

Likewise Lille began with the same 4-2-3-1, with GK Mike Maignan tallying an outstanding 7 saves. Sebastien Corchia and Marko Basa were the top performers for the away team in defense. Xeka (Miguel Angelo da Silva) was by far the man of the match. He controlled the tempo of the game, passed 30 times, assisted and scored. Nicolas de Preville also had a great impact on the game from the ‘number 10’ role.

As soon as the referee blew his whistle to start the game, it was pretty obvious which way the game was going to go. The home side seemed as demotivated as a relegation team, and the away side started the game with great ambition. This resulted in a rapid opener from the spot from Nicolas de Preville in the 13th minute. The first half had chances for both sides, but mostly for Lille. The first half ended 1-0. Xeka scored just 10 minutes into the second half to double the lead. This goal gave the away side some margin for error, however they kept pushing for more, and managed to score another goal 20 minutes later to see out a 3-0 win. Montpellier are 13th with 39 points, while Lille are 11th with 43 points.

Caen-Marseille

The first match on Sunday had relegation zone Caen host Marseille at the Stade Michel d’Ornano in front of a crowd of over 20,000. The home team shifted to a 4-2-3-1, with Remy Vercoutre in goal. Damien da Silva acted as a right back, and Alaeddine Yahia performed as a CB. Yann Karamoh provided an assist for his clubs only goal of the game for the home team. Ivan Santini scored off of Karamoh’s cross.

The away team began with Yohann Pele in goal, Patrice Evra as a left-beck, and Rod Fanni as a center back. Morgan Sanson acted as a midfield maestro, next to man of the match Maxime Lopez. Star trio Dimitri Payet, Bafetimbi Gomis, and Florian Thauvin started in attack.

The away side had the best first half as Florian Thauvin opened the score just 2 minutes in, with a beautiful shot into the top left corner. Maxime Lopez doubled the score just two minutes later with a shot between the keeper’s legs. Ivan Santini scored an absolute beauty just 4 minutes later, for a 1-2 score just 9 minutes into the game. Maxime Lopez scored again in the 27th minute to end the half at 1-3. Florian Thauvin scored a beautifully curved chip into the left side of the net. He would then add another goal to his personal count. He completed his hat trick in the 89th minute, for a final score of 1-5. Caen are 18th with 33 points, while Marseille are 6th 55 points.

Dijon-Bordeaux

The next game of the weekend will have Dijon face Bordeaux. The home side played with a 4-3-3, with Baptiste Reynet in goal. Jordan Loties and Cedric Vaeeault as CB’s, Pierre Lees-Melou put together also had a good game in midfield. Lois Diony played as a striker and Frederic Sammaritano started on the wing.

Bordeaux began playing with a 4-3-3, with Cedric Carrasso in goal. Left-back Diego Contento had a good game on the flank. In the midfield, Jeremy Toulalan did not have the best of games. Youngsters Malcom Silva and Francois Kamano performed on the gins, but both were subbed off during the match.

The match had little if any emotion, as Bordeaux did not perform up to par. The game was full of errors and slow transitions, resulting in a boring 0-0. Jordan Loties had the best performance of the game, not meaning that his game was spectacular. Dijon are 17th in the league while Bordeaux dropped to 5th, with 56 points.

Nice-Paris Saint Germain

Onto the last match of the weekend, and by far the most important, came Nice vs. Paris Saint Germain at the Allianz Riviera. A match that probably decided who the Ligue 1 winner will be. Nice began with a 4-2-3-1 with Yoan Cardinale having a very good game in goal, while Arnaud Souquet had an active game down the flank, as he linked up with Ricardo Pereira who started as a right midfielder. Vincent Koziello and Jean Seri absolutely commanded the game in midfield. Mario Balotelli had a brilliant game in attack, as he drove Paris Saint Germain crazy.

The away team began with German Kevin Trapp in goal, Thiago Silva and Serge Aurier seemed lost the whole game in defense, and Thiago Motta and Angel di Maria were sent off in what was a frustrating match.

The game began with a both sides looking as ambitious as ever, with the home side finding the net for the first time. The Italian mystery that is Mario Balotelli scored from outside the box to make the game 1-0 for the home side at half time. 3 minutes after the break, Ricardo Pereira scored to make it 2-0.  Marquinhos scored from a corner to make the game 2-1, but Anastasios Donis killed any titles hopes PSG had. The game ended with a 3-1, with Motta and di Maria being sent off in the final minutes. Nice are now 3rd in Ligue 1, with 77 points. PSG, direct rivals, are 2nd with just 3 points more.

Final Scores:

Angers 1-2 Lyon

Monaco 3-1 Toulouse

Metz 2-1 Nancy

Guingamp 0-2 Saint Etienne

Nantes 1-0 Lorient

SC Bastia 1-0 Rennes

Montpellier 0-3 Lille

Caen 1-5 Marseille

Dijon 0-0 Bordeaux

Nice 3-1 PSG