This weekend in Ligue 1 featured a notable surprise: Paris Saint-Germain finally lost their first game of the season at struggling Strasbourg. Unai Emery fielded a slightly rotated team, with in-form hitman Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti both named on the bench. A front-line led by Kylian Mbappe carved out several good chances, but the runaway leaders could only find the back of the net once.
Strasbourg opened the scoring 15 minutes into the game, when Joia Nuno Da Costa nodded home an excellent delivery from Dimitri Lienard. PSG piled on the pressure after, as Mbappe’s audacious back heel was well defended, before Julian Draxler surged into the penalty area and lashed an effort narrowly wide of the far post.
It was truly a heroic performance from the home side, who had picked up only three wins before the most recent match day. Despite missing Cavani, Paris Saint-Germain put in a typically silky performance at times, which has helped the Parisians score 48 goals this season so far. However, after Mbappe tucked home Rabiot’s drilled delivery into the box, Strasbourg hit back when Stephane Bahoken received a flicked header and smashed home into the roof of the net.
Cavani and Verratti were introduced soon after, but couldn’t carve out a way through a well marshalled Strasbourg back-line. Whilst the result doesn’t impact hugely on Paris Saint-Germain’s title challenge, their slip up allowed both Monaco, Lyon and Marseille to receive a faint whiff of potential Ligue 1 glory.
Monaco fell to defeat mid-week, and this weekend’s performance wasn’t particularly impressive either from Leonardo Jardim’s team. Angers were the visitors to the Stade Louis II; a team firmly in a relegation scrap. Last season’s champions took the lead after only two minutes, when Radamel Falcao nodded home past Alexandre Letellier. However, despite the early goal the home side failed to capitalise and Angers created chances to equalise.
Karl Toko Ekambi drilled an effort towards goal that was well smothered by Danijel Subasic, before Angelo Fulgini and Mehdi Tarat also missed good chances. Monaco held on for an important three points, although they still remain nine behind the league leaders. Another team firmly in the hunt behind Jardim’s outfit is Lyon.
Bruno Genesio’s side have impressed with their displays of vibrant, attacking football so far this season. A front line led by former Real Madrid striker Mariano with support from Memphis Depay and Maxwel Cornet has fired Lyon into second place, with the second-most amount of goals scored. The title challengers took on high-flying Caen, who have enjoyed a successful season so far and sit in seventh place.
As predicted, the match was tight and decided by moments of individual brilliance. Lyon opened the scoring after ten minutes, when Maxwel Cornet fired home after capitalising on a scramble in the penalty area. Cornet’s game would come to a premature end, after the Ivorian picked up a nasty-looking injury, but Lyon would go on to score a second.
Ten minutes after half-time, Mariano expertly controlled a dropping ball just outside the penalty area, before he turned and fired home on the volley. It was a moment of extreme skill, and the despairing dive from Remy Vercoutre did nothing to help the shot stopper from getting close to stopping it. Deep into added time Caen would eventually find their way through, when Ivan Santini drilled home at Anthony Lopes’ near post. But it was too little too late for the mid-table side, and Lyon go marching on with their solid recent form.
Lille’s improved performances in recent weeks has seen them climb out of the relegation places, and whether this is a coincidence after Marcelo Bielsa’s suspension still remains to be seen. Toulouse were their opponents, and threatened to take the lead throughout the first half.
On the hour mark, the home side took the lead when Benzia laid off to Nicolas Pepe, who drove forward to the edge of the penalty area and fired in an unstoppable effort off the underside of the crossbar. Deep into stoppage time, just when the game looked set for Lille, the referee pointed to the spot and awarded Toulouse a spot kick after Fodo Ballo-Toure’s handball. Andy Delort stepped up, but Maignan plunged low to his right to save and seal a crucial three points for his team.
Elsewhere in France, Bordeaux’s Malcom fired home what is sure to be one of the goals of the season in a 3-2 defeat away to Dijon. The forward picked up the ball just past the halfway line, before surging forward and unleashing a venomous effort that hurtled into the top left corner. It was a finish of real brilliance, and one that caused Bordeaux’s social media team to share their true feelings in a humorous, expletive tweet.
It will be interesting to see if any player is able to match or improve on Malcom’s piledriver, and it is sure to require a flash of magic to make it happen.
There are a few fixtures to keep a close eye on in this weekend’s round of fixtures. PSG take on Lille at the Parc des Princes, while Monaco welcome struggling Troyes to the Stade Louis II, who have only picked up one win in their last six. Lyon travel to Amiens on Sunday, whilst Marseille host St Etienne.