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From 2001 to 2008 to most the French League was a 1 horse race, Lyon winning 7 titles in a row, very rarely were they pushed to the finish line, however the rest of the teams have always been very close usually you’ll find from 2nd to 10th only having 4 points between them, giving some end of season tension and excitement.

Then in the 2008/09 the league was given a bit of a shock Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux ended Lyon’s dominance winning Le Chammpionat by 3 points, and not only that Marseille finished runners up with Lyon coming 3rd, this was a changing in the guard.

This season things have looked a lot different to previous years, 9 teams had changed manager in the off season Antoine Kombouare taking the reins at PSG after his great work with small northern club Valenciennes and Didier Dechamps returning to France to replace Eric Gerets at Marseille, on the field things weren’t the same either.

Toulouse and PSG who qualified for Europe last year are struggling to find their feet lying 10th and 14th respectively, Andre-Pierre Gignac hasn’t recreated his scoring touch so far 24 goals last season only 6 so far this season, one bright spark for Les Verts has been the play of Moussa Sissoko, improving game by game the dynamic midfielder has also scored 7 goals.

At the top end of the table Bordeaux are leading the way, Blancs men are playing excellent football, only 14 goals conceded in 22 games, only losing 4 of those games, Yohan Gourcuff and Marouane Chamakh combining for 12 goals, Yoann Gouffran and Wendel adding another 4 each.

Eden Hazard of Lille

After a shaky start Lille have come good powering their way to third in the league behind the goals of new boy Gervinho and the surprising goals of Pierre-Alain Frau, Gervinho managing 11 before going to Angola for the African Nations Cup and Frau has 9 already his biggest tally in one season since he came to everyone’s attention playing for Sochaux, the midfield trio of Balmont, Cabaye and Mavuba back up the talents of young Belgian sensation Eden Hazard.

The inspiration behind this post was the exploits of the team that surprised the whole league this year. Rene Girard’s Montpellier. The newly promoted side from the South of France have taken everyone by surprise winning 13 out of 22 games only losing 6 times.

Rene Girard

Rene Girard taking on his first club job since 1998 most of his managerial experience coming from working with the French Federation, Assistant Coach of the National team for 4 years, then moving down to working with the very successful u-19, u-16 and u-21 teams, Girard took over from French coaching legend Rolland Courbis at the start of the season, it was Courbis that had masterminded Montpellier’s promotion to Ligue 1 coming 2nd behind RC Lens but ahead of Boulogne and Strasbourg.

When Courbis decided he needed time off from football and Girard took over no one really expected Montpellier to really achieve anything this season, even staying up was regarded as being a struggle, the secrets behind their success have been quite simple, bringing in players with Ligue 1 experience: Geoffrey Dernis. Romain Pitau and Cyril Jeunechamp clocking up 27 years of top flight experience between them.

Colombian striker Victor Montano has lead the line superbly, 7 goals to show for his efforts the diminutive strike has linked up well with loanee Souleymane Camara who has bagged 4 goals, another very shining light has been 20 year old talented midfielder Karim Ait-Fana the Under 21 French International has left an impression with everyone that has watched him play, the talent he is showing will make it hard for Girard to keep him at the Stade de la Masson for next season.

There is no reason that Montpellier can’t keep this form up, attractive economical football that is great to watch, talented veterans and young players, but with the likes of Lyon, Lille and Marseille in the chasing pack, a European place or at worse a top 10 finish will be seen as a fantastic achievement, and help them establish themselves as a Ligue 1 team for years to come.


First of all Well Done to Egypt winning their 3rd African Nations title in a row, also their 7th overall, as I’ve said here before, everyone had written them off as potential winners, but they have proved everyone wrong, a great victory and the people of Egypt will be partying for a while, until the hangover hits and they realise they are still not in the World Cup in South Africa.

However that was not the point of this blog, yes the Egyptians will be partying into the night, the tournament however has come to what can only be described as a sour end, after the shocking scenes in Cabinda with the Togo team being attacked and people dying, they made the decision to leave the tournament, as they felt they weren’t mentally right to play, the emotions summed up by Adebayor conducting an interview in an Arsenal training top, a bit of a gaff, I’m sure at the time he couldn’t have cared less what top he had on, after having to carry one of his shot teammates to hospital.

The tournament went on without them, an everything had sort of moved on, we had some great football, great goals, and everyone was looking forward to a great final……until this happened.

A statement from the Confederation of African football (Caf) on Saturday confirmed the disciplinary action, saying: “The executive committee has banned Togo from the next two African Nations Cup and fined the Togo FA 50,000 US dollars.”

The Caf statement stressed the ban and fine were not intended to punish Togo’s players but their government for withdrawing the team from the tournament after the shootings.

“The players publicly expressed their willingness to return to the Nations Cup to compete. But the Togo government decided to call back their national team,” Caf explained in its statement.

“The decision by political authorities contravenes Caf and African Nations Cup regulations.”

So having your bus shot at, 2 people dying in front of you, teammates shot, apparently isn’t enough punishment, now you can’t play in an African Nations Cup till 2016.

What an absolute disgrace, the person that has made this decision needs to resign ammediately, there is no place for peope like that to be in charge of  a football federation, If the CAF had come out and said that Togo could automatically qualify for the Cup in 2012 noone would have batted an eyelid, it was a tragedy what happened to the team, there is no need to make it any worse for them, 6 years is a long time in football, this decision ends the chance for alot of the current Togo team to every play again in the tournament.

I hope following the outcry this decision has cause the CAF take a good look at themselves and retract all the sanctions they have placed on Togo, wipe the slate clean, and try again. Who would have thought the CAF could have made Sepp Blatter look like a genius. Commonsense should prevail here, I am not convinced it will though.

I wonder if the same thing happened to Brazil or England during the World Cup would the same punishment be followed, I very much doubt it.