Ligue 1 Has Begun

By
Updated: August 16, 2016
Lacazette hat trick

The French top flight is back for the 2016-2017 season introducing newly promoted Nancy, Dijon and Metz. There have also been changes at the top with newly appointed PSG, Unai Emery, formerly of Seville after winning three Europa League titles in a row. Last season’s top scorer Ibrahimovic is one of the biggest names to have departed France this summer along with others like Batshuayi to Chelsea, Umititi to Barcelona. With only two of the 20 Ligue 1 teams, PSG and Monaco are the only to have spent more than £10m this summer. Even clubs like recent title winners like Bordeaux, Lille, Marseille, Lyon, Nantes have spent very little in this transfer window and even 2011-2012 winners Montpellier have spent nothing at all.

Bastia 0-1 PSG
Kurzawa 74′

Friday night was when the season for the French kicked off with the Champions PSG going away to last season’s tenth place Bastia. Bastia will look on this season with a bit of optimism after their improved form in the last half of the season helped them climb the table to 10th. The visitors surprisingly left out new signing Krychowiak and Marquinhos who was unavailable due to Olympic duty. PSG looked like they lacked a bit of inspiration getting into the box and creating clear cut chances, summer signing Ben Arfa from Nice started upfront after his 17 goal season. Bastia were organised at forced PSG into long shots throughout the first half, it looked like the Parisians were missing the big Swede. The second-half was a lot better and Di Maria was more focal in getting the ball behind the defenders, they got out wide and created better chances. Di Maria’s slick through ball behind the defenders got through to ex-Real Madrid player Jese and a saved chip shot fell in the air in front of Kurzawa who cleverly placed the ball in the net after an impressive run forward from left-back. Bastia had what one could say as half chances but were pretty wasteful with the eventual shots.

Monaco 2-2 Guingamp
Fabinho (Pen) 71′   Diallo 29′
Silva 84′   Privat 37′

Monaco got off to a disappointing start aiming to finish higher than last year’s 3rd place. Guingamp who finished 16th last season and with new coach Komouaré were hoping for a more optimistic season than the last. They didn’t have the greatest of starts as they were holding on for the opening stages of the game with great amount of pressure coming from Monaco, but they settled in mid-way through the first-half. Both were just settled into the game as Guingamp lobbed forward a few ambitious long-balls that went forward and across-field and found Diallo who took the shot outside of the box into the top corner of Subasic’s net stunning the whole ground. The shock for Monaco continued when just a few minutes before half-time on 37 minutes Deaux’s run behind the full-backs drew all Monaco defenders out of place leaving him to cross the ball to new singing Privat’s head at the far post. Mbappe added to the hosts’ striker shortage injuring himself just before half-time with Falcao and Vagner Love already out injured. Bernando Silva was the man who replaced him although being a more natural winger and was the most influential player in the game firstly forcing the penalty when Bias carelessly shoved into the back of him in the box, Fabinho converted the spot kick without any problems and Guingamp defenders struggled all night with crosses coming into the box which left Monaco players all the space they wanted and a short pass from Dirar lead to Silva’s shot going in the back of the net.

Monaco 2-2 Guingamp

Bordeaux 3-2 St Etienne
Laborde 13′ Hamouma 81′
Rolan 57′ Soderlund 89′
Malcom 72′

Bordeaux also come into the new season with a new coach, Jocelyn Gourvennec, with his only Ligue 1 experience being maintaining Guingamp’s Ligue 1 status for 3 years after having helped them get promoted and promising signings like Jeremy Menez and French veteran Toulalan on free transfers although Menez didn’t start and Toulalan wasn’t in the squad. The start to Gouvernnec’s Bordeaux life got of to the best start with a lead in the 13th minute coming from Laborde’s header with the help of a long throw from Toure. Rolan made the most of an inviting cross from Laborde in front of the six yard box just 12 minutes after the restart of the second-half. Malcom put in the third from a dipping free-kick which left Ruffier on the spot helpless. St Etienne got back into the game when Polomat curled in a cross from a deep position to meet the head of Hamouma and past Prior who was caught wandering off his line. Prior was at fault again when he came out wildly to try and get the ball from Hamouma’s corner but got no way near it and let it go in off the head of Soderlund.

Caen 3-2 Lorient
Rodelin 32′ Moukandjo 5′,19′(Pen)
Santini 43′, 87′ 

Two relegation candidates who were at different ends of the table last season with Caen deemed to have over performed to finish 7th and Lorient dropping down into 15th. Caen were exposed early on being punished for having a high line as Waris got in behind from a through ball and laid it off to Moukandjo for an easy finish in the six yard box. Romain Philippoteux was clumsily tackled by Mouhamadou Dabo and Moukandjo made it a great start to his season scoring his second within 20 minutes. A red card in the 26th minute for Zargo Toure for a faint touch on the back of Ivan Santini, being through on goal, turned the game around. After a corner in the 32 minute a series of shots were being resisted by the Lorient’s defence until Rodelin found a way through to the bottom corner. Lorient were undone again on a corner but this time Santini found himself with a free header just before the interval. Lorient with the one man handicap were holding on for the second-half but couldn’t resist longer than 87 minutes when a low-cross across the face of goal from Bessat was finished by Santini for his second of the match.

Dijon 0-1 Nantes
Thomsen 48′

Not such an exciting match but on Dijon’s return to Ligue 1, they struggled a fair bit in this match. Nantes could have taken the lead early on when a free-kick going towards the bottom corner from Rongier was saved by Reynet. Sammaritano had one of Dijon’s best chances with a half-volley outside the box spectacularly saved by Nantes goalkeeper and captain Riou. Nantes got the goal just after half-time with a low whipped cross from Iloki in-between defenders and goalkeeper which was too inviting for Nicolaj Thomsen to miss. Dijon struggled to take control of the game as their left side of defence was continuously exposed to Iloki’s pace and dangerous crosses in behind their defenders were a constant threat in the match.

Metz 3-2 Lille
Erdinic 56′, 76′ (Pen) Lopes 35′, 70′ 
Jouffre 88′ (Pen)

Metz made their return to Ligue 1 having just squeezed past Le Havre to make it into the top flight, Lille on the other hand Lille were looking to improve on last year’s 5th place finish and failing to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League meaning no European distractions. Lopes opened the score after a fair amount of Lille pressure led to Lopes unmarked with a free shot following Palmieri’s cross into the box which was cooly finished on the stroke of 35 minutes. Metz turned it around in the second-half when Turkish international loanee from Hannover, Erding, scored on his debut pouncing on Balliu’s cross on 56 minutes. Euro 2016 hero, Eder had his shot go across goal and Lopes at the back post put the wide shot into an empty net to make it his second of the game. Sarr’s charging run from down the left-wing into the box was halted by Civelli who was struggling to keep up and awarded a penalty to Metz, Erding got his second as well by calmly sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Metz were awarded another penalty in the last minutes of the game when Diallo’s run through on goal was stopped by Lille goalkeeper Enyeama, who couldn’t get out of the way of Diallo’s trailing leg. Jouffre got his first goal for Metz by slotting home the penalty after Erding was substituted 6 minutes prior to the penalty.

Montpellier 1-0 Angers 
Boudebouz 8′

A repeat of last season’s opener for both teams when Angers surprised the hosts but Montpellier were hoping for a better start than this time although spending nothing this summer meant optimism wasn’t too high either. They got of to a good start opening the scoring in 8 minutes when Angers failed to clear the ball and Boudebouz’s individual brilliance dribbling outside the box and placing just near the far post which was the deciding goal in the match. Both teams created equal amounts of chances between them during the whole match but were both frustrated by very compact defences that were made to be very difficult to break down, shots were mostly taken outside the box to try and force errors from the goalkeeper but none ever materialised.

Nancy 0-3 Lyon
Lacazette 33′, 44′, 90 +2

Nancy weren’t expecting much from the first match but they were certainly hoping to at least contain Lyon who have more ambitious titles hopes this season, Lacazette made himself top scorer of Ligue 1 after his hat-trick which could have been a call for Arsenal to come and get him and also a reason to increase his price even more. Lacazette came close early on with a free-kick saved by Cameroon goalkeeper N’Dy Assembe. Lacazette didn’t take long after that to leap on the rebounded shot from the goalkeeper to start Lyon’s season. The second goal came as a shock even so for Lyon players when Portuguese goalkeeper Lopes came far out of his goal to clear the ball and as Nancy’s defence was sleeping and cleared the ball behind their defenders, the French striker was there to make it 2-0 just before half-time. Nancy were hanging on to not make it too embarrassing when Cornet was in on goal but failed to really test the goalkeeper. Nancy improved in the second-half by getting forward a bit more and taking more risks, they had a penalty claim when Rubic deemed to be tackled by Morel but the referee decided that there was no foul. Lyon ended it when Nancy’s midfield were slow to react and their defence was out of position letting Ferri in behind who gave the bal to Lacazette for his third and end the game.

Nice 1-0 Rennes
Sarr 60′

Nice wanted to continue from last season’s great 4th position finish and like Rennes, who finished 8th last season, have invested in young players this summer. Nice having the youngest squad in the league and high hopes. Highly rated Swiss manager, Julien Favre, took over Nice from Claude Puel, who took the Southampton job, after having succesful periods in Switzerland and Germany until his bad start last season with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Christian Gourcuff returned to Rennes after his spell from 2001/2002. A minute’s silence was held one month after the attacks in Nice on Bastille day. Rennes seemed to deal reasonably well dominating possession in the first-half after losing star youngster, Dembele to Borussia Dortmund. Apart from that, there weren’t too many opportunities in the first-half. Nice had to also deal with the loss of their star man, Hatem Ben Arfa to PSG. Defender Sarr scored the only goal of the game when an inviting free-kick from Seri J perfectly met his head to give the Southern team an important goal even if Rennes were more worthy of a goal. Rennes were even more unfortunate with multiple chances undoing Nice defenders but failing to put the ball in the net.

Marseille 0-0 Toulouse

Two very underperforming teams last season were hoping to start from scratch and it shown as Marseille started with 6 new players in the starting line-up. Marseille home form was one of their concerns last season having only won 3 last season at the Stade Veledrome having the worst home record out of the teams in the league who avoided relegation. Toulouse who finished one place above relegation were also hoping for a better season and better away record having the worst away record last season for teams who stayed in the league. Mandanda’s successor, Pele, had the most to do out of both keepers but dealt with most shots without any difficulties. Cabella who moved from Newcastle or Gomis on loan from Swansea failed to make a great enough impact to get a needed goal for Marseille in the first-half, they looked like they missed Chelsea stiker Batshuayi, who moved to Stamford Bridge this summer from Marseille. Toulouse were able to create some decent chances following errors from a defence that seemed to have no understanding between them and a lack of communication but three of the four defenders are new to the team. The south coast team experienced booing at the end of the first-half with the fans already unhappy with the home performance, as became a usual spectacle last season. The second-half was a reflection of the first- half with Marseille defenders again making silly errors but fortunately for them, Toulouse couldn’t capitalise on those chances. Gomis had chances in the second-half but easy shots for the keeper meant that he wouldn’t get a debut goal.

Gomis at Marseille

Lyon currently lead the table and will hope to keep that up until may at least having beat new newly promoted Nancy who look in danger already. PSG looked a bit deflated and hoping to progress in Europe without Ibrahimovic could take its toll. Monaco failing to make the impression they’ve always wanted to make may force for cheaper investments or maybe a title challenge is coming soon enough. Teams like Caen or Nice will be pushing to make shocks again this season along with Bordeaux or St Etienne still challenging for a remaining top four place. It’s all still to play for.

Table 

1. Lyon +3 3 pts
2. Caen +1 3 pts
3. Mertz +1 3 pts
4. Bordeaux +1 3 pts
5. Nantes +1 3 pts
6. Nice +1 3 pts
7. Paris SG +1 3 pts
8. Montpellier +1 3 pts
9. Monaco 0 1 pt
10. Guingamp 0 1 pt
11. Toulouse 0 1 pt
12. Marseille 0 1 pt
13. Lille -1 0 pts
14. Lorient -1 0 pts
15. St Etienne -1 0 pts
16. Angers -1 0 pts
17. Bastia -1 0 pts
18. Dijon -1 0 pts
19. Rennes -1 0 pts
20. Nancy -3 0 pts

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