Goal of the Week – Matchday 1
There were a number of great goals that were considered for the this award. Long-range goals from Toulouse’s Paulo Machado, Caen’s Gregory Proment and Auxerre’s Alain Traore were considered. But even with this stiff competition, Evian’s captain Olivier Sorlin’s volley off a deflected corner wins this weeks “Goal of the Week”.
Of course, this was one of the best offensive Matchday 1s that we have seen in years. With a new emphasis on offense in the league, I don’t think it was that much of a surprise. Still, even with offenses firing it up, there were some stellar defensive skills on the field this weekend.
Defender of the Week – Bruno Ecuele Manga (Lorient) – Yes, PSG didn’t look that great. A lot of it had to do with a lack of chemistry. But much of it had to do with the play of Bruno Ecuele Manga. Ecuele was extremely impressive when dispossession attacking PSG players with the ball, especially Kevin Gameiro and Guillaume Hoarau. But what was most important was that he was constantly clearing the area, making it almost impossible for PSG to create any organized chances on the attack. Also, many of Ecuele’s clears led to good counter attack opportunities.
Midfielder of the Week – Alou Diarra (Marseille) – Almost immediately, Alou Diarra’s presence on the pitch paid dividends. While he is a defensive midfielder, he didn’t hold back. He created turnovers in the defensive zone as well as the offensive zone. His pass intercept and dribbling abilities lead to Marseille’s first goal eventually scored by Lucho Gonzalez. And throughout the match, he remained a force, both creating turnovers and pushing the ball up the field to the attacking squad.
Forward of the Week – Victor Hugo Montano (Rennes) – Even though Rennes did find offensive production from a number of different players, it seems as if Montano was, in some way, a part of many of them. Like with Diarra, he demonstrated his amazing dribbling abilities throughout the game. He would finish the match with one goal, but could have had more. Already, we are starting to see that Montano, along with Razak Boukari, will be a good combination up front.
Ligue 1 “Team of the Week”
I didn’t mention this in the preview article, but I am creating a 4-4-2 formation. Why? Because I would like to have one attacking and defending midfielder as well as a left and right midfielder, no matter if attacking or defending. Here is this week’s team:
This weekend, St. Etienne’s defense looked great. If Sylvain Marchal wasn’t the direct reason that Bordeaux scored, he might have been on the list as well. Still, Carlos Bocanegra did a good job on both holding the ball as well as pushing the play forward. As for youngster Loris Nery, he showed that he can play an aggressive game and knows how to hustle. Great work ethic by the French U-21.
Another youngster that looked great on the field was Franck Tabanou of Toulouse. Many TFC supporters have known for a while that he has what it takes to be a star. And, I am sure in nine months from now, he will be linked to bigger teams. But in this game against Ajaccio, Tabanou was impressive on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. During the match, TFC’s offense didn’t have that much of a spark. But if it did, it was usually started or finished off the foot of Tabanou.
Even though Dijon had the worst of luck on Sunday, the team did look impressive. One of the most impressive players for the team was Brice Jovial. Jovial scored a goal right before the half, in addition to having a goal disallowed, which should not have been. Even with his team down, he continued to be an offensive threat throughout the match. This will be a player to watch. He has a good combination of speed and strength that seems to be able to power through central defenders.
Adama Coulibaly had another strong performance for Auxerre, which will have to rely more and more on his services as the team becomes less and less offensive. Coulibaly stood out for the team by being at the right position at the right time. Like Ecuele, Coulibaly continued to clear the ball in an effective manner in a defense that was missing the services of Cedric Hengbart, and also relying on a rookie goalkeeper.
Lucho played like Lucho of two seasons ago. He was all over the pitch. He was amazing dribbling. He had a number of shots that were just wide or required great saves. He had three shots on target and seven shots total. Of course, he scored OMs first goal. But his presence on the field showed that OM really needs to do what they can to keep and not dish him off before the transfer deadline hits. He is just too important after watching Saturday’s match.
In that same game, Ryad Boudebouz continued his productive play from last year and was able to transfer it in his first match. Again, when Sochaux was on the attack, much of that production came off the foot of Boudebouz. While he did have a few questionable passes, his overall production overshadowed them. He, along with Marvin Martin, showed that they will be a force yet again this season.
Finally, Montpellier goalkeeper Laurent Pionnier was amazing for Montpellier. This game could have easily gone Auxerre’s ways in the opening minutes, but the amazing saves of Pionnier kept Auxerre to only one goal. Most of his saves weren’t easy, and required reaction times instead of acrobatic looking moves. But he is purely the reason Auxerre only scored one goal. But even with Pionnier’s great performance, Stephane Ruffier should be mentioned as well for having a great debut match for St. Etienne.
Young Players of the Week
1st. Franck Tabanou – 5 points
2nd. Loris Nery – 3 points
3rd. Ryad Boudebouz – 1 point
Ligue 1 Talk’s Power Rankings for Matchday 1:
After an impressive match on Sunday, and scoring five goals, Rennes were able to take the lead in our first “Power Ranking”. Of course, this is the first ranking and gives favor to visiting teams. And since only half of the teams were on the road, next week should give a better predictor. This is why in US college football, the BCS poll doesn’t come out until weeks after the season starts. Therefore, expect the numbers to be a true reflection of what is happening in Ligue 1 on Matchday 4 and beyond. This is more of a reflection of this weekend’s matches. And even with an impressive match, Dijon was not able to get out of the final spot.
Filed under: Ligue 1 Commentary Tagged: | Adama Coulibaly, Alou Diarra, Brice Jovial, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Carlos Bocanegra, Franck Tabanou, Laurent Poinnier, Loris Nery, Lucho Gonzalez, Ryad Boudebouz, Stephane Ruffier, Victor Montano