Ligue 1 Matchday 1 “Power Breakdown” Review.

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”.

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Ligue 1 & 2 Player award nominees announced.

Did Lisandro Lopez get left out?

Today, the Union Nationale des Footballeurs professionnels made their nominee announcements for their season ending awards of the year. While many of the players on the list aren’t a huge surprise, there were some players that were. Here are the nominees for the upcoming awards.

Best Player : Eden Hazard (Lille), Moussa Sow (Lille), Kévin Gameiro (Lorient), Nene (Paris-SG)

Best Young Player : Mamadou Sakho (Paris-SG), André Ayew (Marseille), Marvin Martin (Sochaux) et Yann Mvila (Rennes)

Best Goalkeeper : Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Mickaël Landreau (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Stéphane Ruffier (Monaco)

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Ligue 1 Matchday 34 Preview: Are there some big games this weekend?

Going into this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches, everyone can see the one big match that will be looming over all other matches, which is Sunday night’s heavyweight match between Lyon and Marseille, now termed the Olympico.

But of course, there are a number of other matches that will be going on that will have just as much of an impact on what could happen in the Ligue 1 season as the big OL vs. OM match does. Therefore, lets take a brief look at the upcoming weekend.

Lille is the team that is current leading the league. Luckily for them, they will be playing Nancy on the road. Nancy, a team that many people expect (and, sadly, want) to be relegated to Ligue 2 this season. They will be fighting for the Ligue 1 lives against the championship front-runners. Unfortunately for Nancy, Lille have the second best road record in Ligue 1. True, they will be missing the services of Yohan Cabaye, but his absence shouldn’t hurt them against an opponent that they should easily defeat. And if Lille is able to grab a valuable three points while both OL and OM are slugging it out (which could end in a draw), they could truly make this a two-horse race for the Ligue 1 title.

In other matches, a number of teams vying for the final Europa League spots will be squaring off against one another.

One of those matches will be Lorient hosting Toulouse. Both teams are coming off positive wins. And while Toulouse’s 2-0 win against Lyon might look more impressive than Lorient’s come-from-behind victory at Lens, they are still coming off a high nonetheless. For Lorient, Kevin Gameiro, who was looking like he might have slowed down about a month ago, is showing that he is back and with full force. But what will hurt Gameiro is that Toulouse’s defense looks to be back as well.
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Matchday 31 – What did we learn?

Benoit Cheyrou - the real "Player of the Year"?

1. Could lackluster end of season leave a bad taste in people’s mouth? - Usually around the end of a season, teams at the top of the table start elevating their level of play to try to either win the league or make a run for a Champions League position. But right now it doesn’t seem as if any of the teams really want the Ligue 1 title. Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, Lille and PSG have all played “less than average” games over the past few weeks, and one must really ask if any of them have the drive to win the championship. Instead of the best team pulling ahead of the rest, it is starting to look like “the team that doesn’t play the worse” might win this championship, which could damage the reputation of Ligue 1.

Because of this, we really can’t say who is the favorite to win the championship. We can’t pick out one team (like we did with Marseille last year) and say “ah ha, that is the team that will win it, they have the drive.” Instead, the end of the season might resemble the end of The Blair Witch Project, where people will be scratching their heads while leaving the theater saying “that’s it?”

So please, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, PSG or Rennes, can one of you please pick up your play so we can have at least a little bit of an idea on who really intends to make a serious run at the top spot in the table?
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Ligue 1 Matchday 20…what did we learn?

Is Gomis the best he has been since his St. Etienne days?

After the long winter break, and a bunch of major upsets in the French Cup, which saw one coach get fired, we are now back on the Ligue 1 season, where everything seems to be ‘business as usual’. So, what did we learn this week from another matchday of Ligue 1 action.

Gomis and Toulalan are back – One of our contributors, Martin Michelot, said on his twitter the other day during the Lyon game that Bafetimbi Gomis was “overshadowing” Lisandro Lopez. That is a very good sign for Lyon. In the past few matches, Gomis, who was the target of many boos and whistles (as an American, I still don’t get the whole whistle thing) has been showing his worth to the team. He has scored six goals in his last seven Ligue 1 matches. And by the reaction of the Lyon crowd on Saturday, with chants of “Bafe, Bafe” echoing around the Stade de Gerland, Gomis has gone from zero to hero.

Another player that impressed was Jeremy Toulalan. Toulalan looked like the player of old, doing one amazing play after another. He looked defensively sharp as well. Basically, he looks like he is on his way back. Many of my non-Ligue 1 football friends only knew Toulalan from the World Cup, and talked about how horrible and useless he was. Of course, many of them didn’t know what he used to play like with Lyon. Hopefully, Toulalan getting the “I was going to retire from football” thoughts out in the public might have taken the monkey off his back to play well. Hopefully, we will see more of the old Toulalan like we did this weekend.
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Ligue 1′s Wish List for Winter Mercato Part II (Monaco to Valenciennes).

A Sessegnon move to St. Etienne the best option (Reuters)?

We are continuing our quick “needs list” from the other day with the rest of the teams, starting with Monaco.

Monaco – Easily, Monaco has to be one of the biggest upsets of the season. Yes, they do miss Nene, but they still should be a decent mid-table team. Still, one seriously has to wonder if the organization really thought that Daniel Niculae could provide Monaco with the same offensive success as Nene. Yes, he is a solid player, but really?

Anyway, Monaco seems to have some major problems with both their midfield and up front. Their midfield is sub par, though they do have a few players like Nampalys Mendy, who seems to have a bright future. Also, offensively, Chu Young Park really needs to find both some midfield and up front support, so that he isn’t the only one producing offensive chances. Therefore, finding some good, solid forwards and midfielders should be Monaco’s priority. If they don’t build their team now, they might lose some quality players. While Park has a contract extension until 2013, Ruffier’s contract expires in the summer.

Montpellier – During the off-season, many were wondering if the Costa-Montano tandem could be replaced by the Estrada-Giroud pair. And even with a few injuries this season, these two players have been able to work well together. True, they aren’t at the level of Costa-Montano, but they have the potential.
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Who should be France’s “Number Three” Keeper?

Has Jeremie Janot made a case for being France's #3 keeper?

Of course, as we all know, positions in the French National Team, especially after the arrival of Laurent Blanc, can be like a game of musical chairs. Match after match, we could see different players. And, as of right now, anyone could have a chance to play on the World Cup team in 2014.

Even with this being said, the position of goalkeeper is pretty much set. Hugo Lloris continues to be the best keeper in France, and one of the best in the World. And honestly, after his exclusion by UEFA as a nominee for “2010 Team of the Year”, I would be upset if I were Hugo.

Still, he is the number one keeper for France.

France, as well, has a number two keepers. Yep, Cedric Carrasso. Carrasso has shown this year that he is easily deserving of the number two spot. And if he keeps playing like he has for Bordeaux this season, he could even challenge Lloris for the top position, considering Blanc is the coach. But I highly doubt that, and Blanc should consider such a move.

Of course, technically, Steve Mandanda is the second keeper for the French National Team. But as time passes, Mandanda looks worse and worse. He seems to be out of position more and more, as well as committing more errors than he did a few years ago. Therefore, should Mandanda be the third keeper for Laurent Blanc’s team?

Here are some possible choices for the third keeper for France:
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Ligue 1 Matchday 16: What did we learn?

For our American "Craig Ferguson" fans. Just Google it...

Another week of Ligue 1 action, and another week of questions answered and unanswered. So, what did we learn this week? Lets dive right into to.

Lille has a powerful offense – I don’t know what it is in the air around this time of the year in Lille, but for some reason when winter starts, Lille’s offense kicks it up a notch and goes into high gear. And they proved that yet again with a 6-3 victory over Lorient. Yes, the Lorient keeper Fabien Audard might have been red carded, but he had already allowed four goals before that time.

In addition to Lille showing their stuff, Moussa Sow has shown that he is one of the top players in Ligue 1 right now. Sow recorded a hat-trick, giving him 13 goals on the season. Oh, and if you are wondering if he might be shooting for a Ligue 1 record, he isn’t. Marseille’s Jisop Skoblar scored 44 goals in the 1970-71 season.
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Squad for Norway-France friendly. And, yes, no World Cup players.

Benzema, Nasri and Mexes...three guys that should have never been off the team, are back.

Well, this is kind of the moment that we have been waiting for. After the debacle that was Raymond Domenech, supporters of the French National Team were wondering what direction new manager Laurent Blanc was going to guide the team.

And by his first selection of player for the friendly against Norway, it is still hard to tell.

But even with it being hard to tell, we are kind of seeing what personnel are maybe in and out.

One promise that Blanc made a few weeks ago is that there would be no World Cup players on this team. And this was a promise that he was able to keep. With the exception of Lassana Diarra (who was expected to play in the World Cup but couldn’t), this squad is a totally new look for those of you who either casually watch France, or watch the French on a regular basis.

So, lets dive right into the roster. Here is the squad that Blanc released today for the Norway friendly:

GARDIENS : Stéphane Ruffier (Monaco), Nicolas Douchez (Rennes).

DÉFENSEURS : Rod Fanni (Rennes), Adil Rami (Lille), Philippe Mexès (AS Rome/ITA), Mamadou Sakho (Paris-SG), Benoît Trémoulinas (Bordeaux), Aly Cissokho (Lyon), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille).

MILIEUX :
Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid/ESP), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), Yann M’Vila (Rennes), Samir Nasri (Arsenal/ANG), Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Charles N’Zogbia (Wigan/ANG), Blaise Matuidi (Saint-Etienne).

ATTAQUANTS : Hatem Ben Arfa (Marseille), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Loïc Rémy (Nice), Jimmy Briand (Lyon), Jérémy Ménez (AS Rome/ITA), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris-SG).
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Can Montpellier bounce back against Monaco?

Week after week, everyone expects Montpellier to fall flat on their face and start moving down the standings. Coach Rene Girard even said at the start of the season that his team’s goal was to avoid relegation, and that they would eventually move down the standings. Even team boss, the colorful Louis Nicollin, expected his team to have a decent, but not great, year. Still, with 30 games already in the books, Montpellier look to be poised to not only avoid relegation (which is now mathematically impossible), but to actually play in European competition as well.

Last week, Montpellier got a wake up call from Lille, another team looking to make a charge for one of the three Champions League positions. With a returning Gervinho (and for those of you who put money on Niang or Nene to win the scoring title after Gervinho’s injury, all I have to say is ’not so fast’), Lille dominated the southern French side with a 4-1 victory. Pure and simple, Montpellier were outplayed during the entire match. Lille dominated in possession, quality chances on goal, basically everything. Still, Lille seems to be a team that, if they can keep together, be destined to be the next Lyon or Bordeaux.

But back to Montpellier. They lost. They were dominated. But does this mean anything? Even the mighty Bordeaux loses to St. Etienne, so anything is possible in Ligue 1. Still, Montpellier play today against Monaco, a team which is one of the ‘hotest-coldest’ teams in Ligue 1. One string of good matches and they look like they can challenge for the top five. Another few weeks, and they look destined for the midtable. And with only eight matches left to play in this season, Monaco’s season looks to be heading toward the latter.

So what should we look for in today’s game?
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