Monday, 12 November 2018

Ligue 1: October Review

Ligue 1 continued to deliver throughout October with excellent football and quality goals. PSG maintained their perfect start to the league season making it 11 wins out of 11. While Lille, Montpellier and Lyon make up the Champions League places. While Monaco and Guingamp continue to prop up the table with Monaco sacking Leonardo Jardim at the beginning of the month.

PSG continue to dominate France and no doubt Thomas Tuchel will be absolutely delighted with his side’s adaptation to his style of play and goals are really flowing for the Parisian club. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are enjoying their seasons while youngsters Moussa Diaby and Christopher Nkunku are thriving under the German. A maximum point total and a 8 point lead at the top already suggests PSG aren’t going to be caught this season. However, Lille are putting up a determined fight below them after a perfect October for Christophe Galtier’s side. 3 wins out of 3 in October have seen Lille cement 2nd in the table. A solid defence has been the key to their success with Lille consistently securing narrow victories as opposed to PSG’s rampant style. Nicolas Pepe continues to shine in the Lille team with his solid performances and a good goal return for a winger with 8 so far this campaign. Like Lille, Montpellier are also flying after another excellent month for Michel der Zakarian’s side. 7 points from 9 in October has seen Montpellier comfortably lie 3rd in the table but they are 11 points behind PSG at the top. Strikers Andy Delort and Gaetan Laborde are forming an excellent partnership up top with the pair notching 11 goals between them so far. No doubt both Lille and Montpellier are overachieving so far, and both teams will hope their positive momentum continues. Lyon make up the top 4 but Bruno Genesio’s side are 13 points behind PSG and that is simply not good enough. Despite winning 2 of their 3 games in October, Genesio’s side struggle for consistency with Lyon struggling to put good runs of form together. They are a young side and that could be a factor, but Bruno Genesio and owner Jean Aulas will certainly want the team to be pushing PSG harder. It is extremely unlikely PSG will be toppled this season, but Lyon must make it a fight for the Parisians.

Marseille, Strasbourg and Nantes all had good Octobers. Rudi Garcia celebrated a new contract at the Stade Velodrome by collecting 6 points from their 3 matches during October. However, they ended the month with a defeat and sit 5th in the table. Like Lyon, Marseille struggle for consistency and it is a clear factor as to why they aren’t challenging PSG at the top. Meanwhile, Strasbourg are firmly enjoying their 2nd season in Ligue 1 after a strong October collecting 5 points and overall have lost just 1 of their last 6 games. Lebo Mothiba has been a terrific signing for Strasbourg with the striker notching 6 goals since his late move from Lille in August. While full back Kenny Lala is also winning plaudits for his attacking flair and defensive solidity. They are firmly enjoying their season so far sitting 7th in the table and not too far behind 4th placed Lyon. The first 2 months of the season were miserable for Nantes with the club sitting in the bottom 2 at the end of September and Miguel Cardoso sacked after just 8 matches in charge. However, fast forward to end of October and they lie 14th after a terrific start under new boss Vahid Halilhodzic. 2 wins out of his first 3 matches have seen them climb out of the relegation zone. 2 straight league wins as well after losing their opening match under their new manager. A thunderous win over Toulouse really ignited Halilhodzic’s tenure and striker Emiliano Sala is enjoying his campaign with the Argentine firing Nantes up the table.

Times are tough for the bottom 2 Monaco and Guingamp. The bottom 2 are three points behind Amiens in 18th place and 4 behind 17th place Dijon. A miserable start to the league season has cost Leonardo Jardim his job. Defeat at home to Rennes cost the Venezuelan his job and club legend Thierry Henry has taken his first steps into management by taking over his boyhood club. However, things haven’t improved under Henry with just 1 point in his first two games. A defeat to Strasbourg followed by a disappointing home draw against Dijon. Henry has plenty to do at Monaco with their defence conceding far too many while goals are proving allusive in this very young team. However, a major problem for Henry is that Monaco are winless at the Principality Stadium and that is simply not good enough. Henry has certainly had a baptism of fire and now is fully aware of the task ahead. Guingamp lie below them and despite an unbeaten October of 3 draws, it is 1 win in 11 matches and the pressure is mounting on Antoine Kombouare. Despite more encouraging performances, wins are proving allusive and they lie bottom on goal difference and could the axe fall during November? Only time will tell.  

Other sides struggling throughout October included Angers, Caen and Dijon. All three sides had winless Octobers and are beginning to sink down the table. While Angers are well organised, they struggle to score goals on a regular basis and when you don’t score you don’t win matches. After a winless October they lie 12th in the table. 1 win in their last 6 games has seen their mini September revival halted. Caen are also experiencing tough times under new manager Fabian Mercadal. Caen lie 16th after a winless October and an overall run of 1 win in 7. Goals are alluding them and they are not getting their rub off the green. On the end of narrow defeats to Lille and Marseille. However, things must improve during November because although Mercadal is relatively liked, he must start getting results to move Caen away from the relegation zone. August seems a very distant memory for Dijon after a perfect start to the season saw them win their first 3 games. However, fast forward to October and Dijon have collected just 2 points in their last 8 games and the pressure is mounting on Olivier Dall’Oglio. Dijon have sunk to 17th in the table and things must improve during November. Only Monaco are on a longer winless run than Dijon in the league. Despite their poor run of form, they are only 3 points behind 8th placed Bordeaux so it is extremely tight.

October was excellent, and no doubt November will be the same. More quality football, excellent goals and potentially more managers facing the axe and the pressure point of the season begins to arrive. There are some mouth-watering matches during November including PSG vs Lille, Lyon vs Bordeaux, Montpellier vs Marseille, Monaco vs PSG, it is the Rhone Derby between Lyon and St Etienne, Caen vs Monaco and Nice vs Lille. It is certainly approaching a crucial part of the season in France with the final international break and then a run of matches before the winter break and that period could be crucial in the season.

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