Throughout the years, Ligue 1 has always been considered one of the most physical leagues in all of the world. That physical play leads to less scoring as well, which makes for better defenders.
Still, this year seems to be bucking the trend, as goals are flying in Ligue 1 this season. Who thought, even with all the fire-power that both teams have, that we would see a 5-5 game between Lyon and Marseille a month ago.
Therefore, in Ligue 1 anything is possible.
Still, while there are many defenders that make the cut, there are a few defenders that caught the eyes of our voters. And here are our choices for out Ligue 1 All-Star team defenders.
Left Back – Aly Cissokho (Lyon)
While defense is a strong part of Ligue 1, sometimes there doesn’t seem to be depth in a certain position. And that can easily be said amongst the left and right backs in the league. Toulouse’s Cheikh M’Bengue and Bordeaux’s Benoît Trémoulinas received multiple votes in our poll. And even though he had a pretty good Champions League match yesterday, Marseille’s Taye Taiwo only received one bote.
But for our voters, Aly Cissokho of Lyon was an obvious choice, receiving five out of a possible six votes. Being promoted to the French National Team recently, Cissokho has shown his weight in gold this season. While the rest of Lyon’s defense has been much weaker than expected, Cissokho continues to shut down the right side attack of any opposing team. Even though he isn’t a scoring defender, Cissokho did score his first goal for Lyon today in the team’s Champions League match.
During his career, Cissokho spent much of his time with some smaller clubs. But in 2009 he joined current teammate Lisandro Lopez at Porta, where he showed what he was capable of. He transferred with Lisandro to Lyon this year, where he has shown Raymond Domenech that he is a worthy player for Les Bleus (even though it will be hard to knock off Patrice Evra for that left back position).
Right Back – Matthieu Chalmé (BDX)
Along with Cissokho, Matthieu Chalmé was also a strong pick for the right back position, receiving five out of a possible six votes. Even though he did well in the balloting, Auxerre’s Cédric Hengbart received four votes. All the other vote-getters were pretty much out of the running.
Chalmé has shown in both Ligue 1 and Champions League play that he is a force to be reckoned with. Unlike our other All-Star Cissokho, Chalmé possess a bit of an offensive side to him, being able to turn on a dime and bring the ball up the right side for Bordeaux. He also has extremely good dribbling skills. And in addition to pushing forward, Chalmé can also drop back quite fast. He is easily one of the most versatile defenders in Ligue 1.
Center Backs – Adama Coulibaly (AUX) and Marc Planus (BDX)
As both Bordeaux and Auxerre are strong at the right back position, the same can be said with their center backs as well.
Malian international Adama Coulibaly has shown that players from Africa can play just as strong at the defensive position as they can scoring goals up front. Coulibaly, along with Hengbart, help anchor a defense that is one of the hardest to get by in Ligue 1. So far this year Auxerre has only allowed 14 goals this season, just two behind defensive leaders Toulouse FC.
Marc Planus also possess the same ability and talents of Coulibaly. Along with Michaël Ciani (who Planus beat in a tie-breaker for this position in our voting), Trémoulinas and Chalmé, Planus adds strength to a defense that might possibly be the most disciplined in Ligue 1. All these defenders play positionally brilliant. And in set pieces Bordeaux (especially Planus) has proven to be far superior to any other Ligue 1 team.
Goaltender – Hugo Lloris (LYN)
There has been a lot of criticism of Hugo Lloris in recent weeks. Why is his team losing in Ligue 1? Why did he allow five goals against Marseille…blah, blah, blah.
Still, when all is said and done, Hugo Lloris has to be considered the best goaltender not only in Ligue 1, but on the French National Team as well (of course, this is my strong biased opinion).
Many commentators and writers have talked about the amazing saves that Sebastian Frey or Steve Mandanda have had recently. That is nice, but all professional goalkeepers make amazing saves, that is what they are paid for.
But Hugo Lloris has cat-like reflexes that most goaltenders can only dream of. He also possess rapid movement and recovery, and is usually smart with many of his rebounds (though that is questionable sometime, and leads to most of the criticism toward him).
Still, Lloris received four votes in our poll, closely followed by Bordeaux’s Cédric Carrasso.
So there, those are our defensive All-Star for the season (so far) in the 2009-2010 season. Here is how the voting was broken down.
N’dy Assembé….2 votes