Yesterday, in South-West Paris, Lille secured their first Ligue 1 Championship since 1954.  James Davenport our man in Paris was there to tell us the tale from the Parc des Princes

The match was an important game for both teams; Lille needed just a point to secure top spot in the League and Paris Saint-Germain were fighting for a place in next seasons Champions League. The stage was set for an entertaining and attacking game and it certainly did not disappoint.

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Tonight league leaders Lille OSC travel south to Paris knowing that if they avoid defeat they will be crowned champions of France, for the first time since 1954. After winning the Coupe de France last weekend in the Stade de France it would be fitting if the double was secured in the same city, however defeat to Antoine Kombouare’s PSG side and a Marseille win would see the title race go to the last day of the season. Just like it did back in 1954.

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First of all…watch this!

 

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Only last month Lens defender Raphael Varane was profiled as one of our Ligue 1 20 for 20 – players to watch. In the piece it was mentioned how many clubs were keeping an eye on this talented youngster ready to make a move for him in the transfer market. Manchester United and Bayern Munich were the big names in contention, Sir Alex had been rumoured to be considering a £3m bid for the 17-year old.

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**Disclaimer** In no way is this an attempt to generate hits via having the keywords Eden Hazard, Arsenal and Transfer in the same article. Over the past few weeks questions about the future of Lille’s fantastic little Belgian have been flooding in via twitter and other avenues. It is time to put these to bed….for now.

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Thought I’d do a little bit of cross promotion on here.

For the last ten/twelve weeks now myself and Chris Oakley have been recording our own podcast focusing soley on French Football and the French national team.

If you fancy a listen, even if you’re a fan of Ligue 1 or not. There are always some great young talents coming through in France that are worth finding out about. Please check out the show.

Click the link - http://nasn.tv/2011/french-football-weekly-episode-10/

I would love to hear your thoughts, all feedback is welcome.

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This can’t be the best of times to follow Les Sang et Or your team sits precariously in the relegation zone while you look up at your biggest rivals on the brink of their first title since 1954. With the dark clouds circling overhead the Stade Felix Bollaert fans in the Marek stand are beginning to look towards the ray of sunshine coming from the centre of their defence.
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Before the big night game between Lille OSC and Olym pique Lyon we travelled to the Stade Lille Metropole – Terrain II to watch the CFA game between Lille II and Villemomble Sports. A chance to have a look at some of the young Lille players trying to break through, who knows the next “Eden Hazard” could have been on the pitch….he wasn’t. Twelve Lille players were on show and there was a mixture of possibilities and disappointments. The game finished 0-0.

Alexandre Oukidja


French: Goalkeeper – 22 years-old

Did not impress at all, he was called on a few times and he seemed to make a meal of everything he had to do. Flapped a few times at crosses, didn’t look comfortable with his feet and was slow to react to a few through balls. Worrying with Landreau’s age that there is a lack of quality replacements.

Mathieu Sauvage


French: Centre Back – 23 years-old

An uncompromising uncomplicated centre back, with the very little threat that Villemomble posed Mathieu dealt with their attacks very well. Good in the air and never tried to attempt anything too complicated. With Adil Rami leaving in the summer and a lack of quality on the bench it would be interesting to see Sauvage win a few minutes with the first time.

Adama Soumaoro


French: Centre Back – 18 years-old

To anyone that has watched Celtic over the years this will make a lot of sense. Soumaoro to me looks like a combination of Bobo Balde and Gary Caldwell. A scary prospect in more ways than one. Physically intimidating, powerful in the air, very rarely did he lose an aerial battle. Then when you gave him the ball at his feet, he was twisting and turning like a “Trequartista”. Obviously thinks he is a much better footballer than he is. Lucky not to be caught out, he never once took the easy option, full of little Cruyff turns and drag backs. Still young, but lots to learn.

David Alcibiade


French: Right Back – 19 years-old

Played a solid game at right back, I’m sure I had heard he was a centre-back but he looked mobile enough down the right. Linked up well Ait-Bouhou down the flank. However as he is not a natural full back there was no desire to get to the touchline and try and whip in a cross. Would like to see him in the centre.

Lucas Digne


French: Left Back – 17 years-old

During the game Digne probably impressed me the most, never got caught out at any point, Villemomble never got in-behind him, Positioning was good, timed his tackles well and his decent attempt at a free-kick showed he has some power in his left boot. To find out he is only 17 as well impresses me more, he looked the most calm and in control player in the back line. High hopes for Digne.

Henri Ewane


Cameroonian: Central Midfield – 25 years-old

When you first see Ewane he does stand out. Strong in the tackle, good on the ball, didn’t give it away and was able to pick a pass. For his size he is a tough competitor. Then you realise he is 25 and you wonder why has he not broke into the first team or at least play for a Ligue 2 side. If he was 19 you would be excited about his future, at 25 you’ve got to think he doesn’t have one.

Pierre Baherle


French: Central Midfield – 19 years old

I must say I saw a little bit of quality in this kid, would certainly like to see him again. At first glance he looks slight and maybe a little light-weight but he got stuck in and fought for every ball, then when in possession he was able to control the play and pick out his teammates. Worth keeping an eye on. Better then Ewane and six years younger.

Anice Badri


French: Left Midfield – 20 years-old

Didn’t really do much in the match to be honest, a couple of poor crosses from the left, and a very weak shot on goal. Never beat his man and never really looked like threatening.

Mustapha Ait-Bouhou


French: Right Midfield – 21 years-old

Showed some good use of pace in places, but twice when he got in a good position down the right his final ball was atrocious. Quite direct but seemed to lack any tricks to beat his man and tried to rely on his pace alone. Was taken off in the second half.

Omar Wade


French: Centre Forward – 20 years-old

In the three games of football we watched while in Lille, Omar was the biggest disappointment of any player I watched. The only Lille II player I had been aware of before the weekend I was expecting to be impressed and he literally did nothing for 90 minutes. His movement looked decent at the start and then he got a knock, never looked interested again. Should have been taken off as his mood dropped and he basically moped around the pitch. Needs to not let his head go down.

Steevy Negouai


French: Forward – 19 years-old

Showed glimpses of someone who could become a very decent forward. My eyes at first were drawn to Omar Wade but over the course of the game Negouai became the focal point of the attack. Some good movement off the ball, liked to come deeper and get involved. Moved out the right when Baseya came on and he went quiet. A tall elegant looking player, good with his feet and a turn of pace.

SUBS

Cedric Baseya


French: Centre Forward – 23 years-old

As soon as he entered the pitch you could see the mammoth size of the big forward, and he set about muscling the Villemomble centre backs around. Then he went for his first header and got beat for the ball, now at 6 foot 4 and built like a tank, this shouldn’t happen. In 20 minutes I think he won one header. Movement was poor, I felt sorry for Negouai, moved out to the win to accommodate the big striker. With Baseya and Wade upfront there was never going to be a goal.

Rachid Chihab

French: Manager
Looked a mixture of Terry Horlock, Michael Bolton and Wolf from Gladiators. A very animated character, never sat down for more than 2 minutes at a time. Always shouting and encouraging the players. Looks the sort of manager that would be a great personality in Ligue 1 or Ligue 2

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Lee Garrity talks us through this week’s Coupe De France Quarter-Finals

On Tuesday Ligue 2 Reims entertained Ligue 1 side Nice in the first of the Quarter Finals, Daniel Ljuboja gave the visitors the lead on the half hour but Reims hit straight back when Romain Amalfitano side footed home from a Odair Fortes cross. Eric Mouloungui restored the lead for Nice on 48 minutes but once more Reims deservedly hit back, Fortes adding a goal to his earlier assist to force the game into extra time. Mouloungui was to be the hero for Eric Roy’s Nice as substitutes David Bellion & Anthony Mounier combined for the former Strasbourg forwards 2nd goal of the game vindicating Roy’s decision to rest several key players.

There was to be no more giant killing heroics from non league Chambery as Ligue 2 Angers strolled to a 3-0 victory at Grenoble’s Stade des Alpes. On loan Bordeaux man Henri Saivet broke the minnows hearts on the stoke of half time and 2nd half strikes from Sebastien Renouard & Diego Gomez gave the scoreline a one sided look.

Ligue 2 leaders Le Mans travelled east to the capital to face a Paris Saint Germain side who started with a mix of experience and highly rated youth, it was to be the youth that would eventually come out on top. Scoreless at full time and with the hosts down to 10 men the game ebbed and flowed with both sides creating chances, possibly the best of which fell to Le Mans, the visitors also went down to 10 men early in extra time and PSG took hold of the game, taking a 108th minute lead through Jean Christophe Bahebeck and sealing the game through another youngster Neeskens Kebano.

The last of the Quarter Finals was to be the final game played on the notorious Metropole pitch at Lille. The hosts had the better of the chances but visiting Lorient keeper Fabien Audard was in fine form and after extra time the game ended 0-0. The first four penalties were converted before a woeful spot kick from Lorient’s Arnold Mvuemba gave the home side the advantage, both sides scored their next penalty so it fell to Lille’s talisman Eden Hazard to win the game and he did just that although Lorient may feel that the Belgian playmaker should have re-taken the kick after he appeared to stop mid run up before tapping the ball to the stricken Audard’s right hand side to give Lille a 5-3 shootout win and send them into the semi finals alongside Angers Nice & last season’s winners Paris Saint Germain.

 

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