Ligue 1 Matchday 2 Saturday Preview and Predictions

Can Brice Jovial sink Toulouse?

Finally, the Ligue 1 season is underway. After last week’s matches, we can at least get a little glimpse into what some of the teams might look like. Yes, one match into the season isn’t a predictor of anything. Even so, we were able to really get a look at what some of the teams might be throwing out there this season, and help us get an idea of where they are going.

Lorient vs. Bordeaux – This is easily the tale of two teams that went in different directions last week. Lorient pulled off the upset of Matchday 1 with a victory on the road against Paris St. Germain. Bordeaux, on the other hand, continued to struggle to find a scoring touch and lost to St. Etienne by a score of 2-1. But will the same teams show up this weekend?

As far as Lorient, they did play an impressive match. Throughout their game against PSG, Lorient had the home side on their toes. Aggressive play against what many considered a superior opponent was quite a shock. But is that what we should expect from Lorient this season, or was that just a flash in the pan? As for Bordeaux, creating any offensive threat continues to be their main problem. And after the club stated in L’Equipe this week that they would not seek any new players for the remainder of the summer transfer period, Bordeaux are pretty much stuck where they are.
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Ligue 1 Predictions for 5th, 4th, 3rd.

5 – St. Etienne: Many people out there are saying ASSE will have a great season, but the jury is very much still out on them.

Of course, there is much discussion about the change of the team over the summer. The big names departing are Dimitri Payet to Lille, Blaise Matuidi to PSG, Emmanuel Riviere to Toulouse and Christophe Landrin to Arles-Avignon (which kind of surprises me). But even though some of these players are gone, there replacements should be able to prove themselves on this stage as well.

The biggest signing for ASSE has to be goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier from Monaco. Does this mean that Jermanie Janot’s retirement is closer than we think? Easily, both of these players know how to play goal, and are some of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1. But even so, both of them have different playing styles. Janot is more or an acrobat, while Ruffier is stellar at positioning. It will be interesting to see how coach Christophe Galtier juggles the goaltending roles.
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Mevlut Erding to Newcastle?

I enjoy the fact that this picture doesn't exactly suit the occasion...

After the news broke that Kevin Gameiro had signed for PSG, speculation was rife over the future of Mevlut Erding, who had a disappointing 2010-11 (hitting the net only 9 times in 34 appearances) and plays a similar role to the former Lorient man.

Newcastle, who have been linked to seemingly every notable Ligue 1 player in the last few weeks, have thus far failed in their pursuits of France-based attackers, having been turned down by Gameiro and Gervinho in favor of other moves. However, all this may change quite soon, as Erding, whose failure to maintain his prolific Ligue 1 strike rate has made him increasingly unpopular with PSG fans, will most likely not be an asset new PSG owners the Qatar Investment Authority want to maintain.

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Kevin Gameiro to PSG: Why it’s so Important for Ligue 1

At 2:30 PM (CET) on June 12th, 2011, the official website of Paris Saint-Germain FC announced that Kevin Gameiro had signed a four year deal. Outside sources claim that the fee was 11 million euros with additional incentives possibly worth 15 million. This marked the end of the transfer saga of one of Ligue 1′s brightest stars, having lodged 56 goals and 19 assists in his last three seasons and scoring/creating a goal every 133 minutes this season. Gameiro had been heavily sought after by several clubs, including Valencia, Newcastle, Villareal, and Sevilla in addition to PSG. The diminutive striker had nearly transferred to Valencia in January, agreeing to terms with the club, before Lorient noticed that Valencia hadn’t actually made an offer…oops! Gameiro stayed the second half of the season and came in second in the Ligue 1 scoring charts for the second year running.

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Lille do the double, win Ligue 1 title. Sochaux to Europa League.

Lille OSC: 2010-11 Ligue 1 Champions.

Lille OSC: 2010-11 Ligue 1 Champions.

After last week’s big win against Sochaux, Lille, who has not won a Ligue 1 championship since 1954, only had to score one point in their last two matches in order to secure the title. And trying to gain that point in the Parc des Princes isn’t the easiest of tasks. Yet Lille were up to that task as they drew with Paris St. Germain 2-2 and win the Ligue 1 title.

Unlike their French Cup match, which was pretty lame to say the least, this one was a barn-burner which saw a number of close chances for both teams as well as a number of confrontations as well. Lille opened up the scoring just five minutes into the match when Ludovic Obraniak, who scored the only goal in the French Cup final, knocked one in, making the score 1-0. After that, Paris were able to take control of the game, with a number of opportunities coming close for the home side.

In the third minute of stoppage time in the first half, PSG were able  to finally net that goal, with the goal scorer being Guillaume Hoarau, leveling the match at 1-1.
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Lille one step closer to Ligue 1 title.

Clifford even closer to celebrating a Lille double.

Lille moved one step closer to the Ligue 1 title on Wednesday night as they defeated visiting Sochaux by a score of 1-0. While assuring that they did all but clinch the title, Marseille are still mathematically in the race. But it would take a Herculean effort, as well as two Lille defeats, for Marseille to repeat as champions.

Like many of Lille’s matches lately,they weren’t able to find the scoring touch early in the game. And while they were able to pressure the Sochaux defense, bad luck lead to the first half being scoreless.

A number of Lille players showed impressive play in the opening half, but none more than Gervinho. While he was having his way with the Sochaux defense, his opportunities were either hitting off the posts, or his passes would just take an unlucky bounce.

During the half time, the Lille supporters were able to take a glimpse at their new hardware, as Lille president Michel Seydoux walked around the stadium track with the Coupe de France raised in his hands.
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Ligue 1 Talk interview with Evian keeper Quentin Westberg.

Quentin Westberg's arrival at Evian this season.

Earlier today, Ligue 1 Talk was able interview French-born American goalkeeper Quentin Westberg of Ligue 2 title contenders Evian.

In the interview, we talked about Quentin’s training in the youth academies in France, which includes impressive places like Camp des Loges and Clairefontaine. He was also featured in “A la Clairefontaine” as well.

In addition we talked about American players in France, the MLS, playing for the US Men’s National Team and the Boston Red Sox. Also, we both agreed to bash the New York Yankees.

Please forgive us for any audio problems. It wasn’t noticeable while we were recording. So my apologies in advanced.
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Arsenal target Kevin Gameiro turns eyes to Paris.

In the last six months, there has been much news regarding the sale of Kevin Gameiro. During the summer transfer window, many expected Gameiro to move to Bordeaux to solve their offensive problems that were sure to come (and eventually did come) with the departure of Marouane Chamakh and Yoann Gourcuff.

In the winter, there was talk about a deal in the bag that would send Gameiro to Valencia.

And with the 2011 summer transfer window about to open, the talk of an EPL transfer is growing larger and larger, with Arsenal being the front-runner.

But today, according to L’Equipe, Gameiro spoke with members of Paris St-Germain a few days ago regarding a possible transfer to the capital club. There are no real figure amounts that can be thrown around yet, but it is reported that Gameiro will only play for PSG if they are able to qualify for the Champions League. Technically, Paris, Lyon, Rennes and Sochaux are fighting for third place, which is Ligue 1′s playoff spot for the Champions League.
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Lille defeats Paris St. Germain in the Coupe de France final.

Lille has had the pressure on them all season long. And with the possibility of doing the double, which is a hard accomplishment in French football, the pressure was even harder. On top of that, Lille had to play against Paris St. Germain, who has been the best team as far as French Cup appearances, especially since 1993, where they have won six Cups and appeared in two additional finals. But this was to be Lille’s day as Ludovic Obraniak scores the game winning goal in the closing minutes of the game, giving Lille the 1-0 win over the Cup giants.

Like a typical Ligue 1 match, both teams took a while to get warmed up. In the first fifteen minutes, both sides had a few opportunities to create something, but were rarely able to convert any of their chances. The best chance in the opening minutes was in the 10th minute when Gervinho broke free on the left hand side. But instead of passing the ball to an open Eden Hazard in the box earlier, Gervinho waited, and the play was broken up by the PSG defense.
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French Cup (Coupe de France) Final Preview: Lille vs. Paris St. Germain.

Like every year in the French Cup, this year was filled with excitement. There were the close games. There were the near-upsets. And in the end, there was Chambery, a CFA-2 team (5th Division) team that knocked off three Ligue 1 teams, making their way to the French Cup quarterfinals before they were knocked out by Angers.

But then it was down to two. Current Ligue 1 leaders Lille and defending cup holders Paris St. Germain will be facing off against each other at the Stade de France on Saturday night. But who will have the advantage going into this match? Besides the obvious “who has the best” questions, we will try to examine the match a little further and give you an idea of the mindsets of these two teams.

Goalkeeping – If you were to ask this question four years ago, Gregory Coupet would be the easy choice in goal. But it is 2011, and Mickael Landreau, who isn’t a spring chicken himself, has the upper hand. Granted, Coupet has looked decent for the Paris side over the last few matches, but so has Landreau, who stopped an amazing penalty kick against St. Etienne this past weekend. Therefore, while both keepers are getting up there in age, the 31-year old Landreau has the advantage over the 38-year old Coupet. Advantage: Lille.
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