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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.


1 comment


February 27th, 2010

don’t believe in Hazard, he’s a hazard

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