Four games have been played in France in this 2014-2015 season. There is no suspense in the title race, as Monaco’s ambitious project is going into oblivion after the transfers of James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, while no club can compete with PSG’s dream team. This season, the interesting part will be the race for second and third place between Monaco, Lille, Bordeaux, Saint-Etienne and Marseille.
The race against relegation should prove to be quite a thriller that should concern 6 or 7 teams until the very last minute of the very last game. Therefore, as PSG will be touring around France like the Harlem Globe Trotters with a weekly exhibition of their football stars, there is still a real competition going on in France. And Ligue 1 should prove, once again, to be one of the most competitive leagues in Europe (6 different winners in the 7 past years).
Round 4 highlights:
The game of the weekend: Monaco-Lille
The game of the weekend won’t be about what happened on the pitch. Although Monaco has one of the most technically gifted players in Europe (Dimitar Berbatov) and Lille has a very strong defence that many Premier League teams would be very pleased to possess, the true attraction in this game was not in the standings of the Stade Louis II. If you ever wondered how transfers happen, you had the opportunity to witness – live on TV – the transfer of Radamel Falcao to Manchester United. First Falcao was announced in the starting team. Then he was announced as substitute and eventually his name got withdrawn from the game sheet a few minutes before kick-off. After that, the cameras spent more time filming Falcao and his agent doing phone calls and talking to each other than filming the game. He was announced at Real Madrid at halftime, in Man City at final whistle and finally at Manchester United a few minutes later. That’s how transfers happen. Oh, by the way, the final score was 1-1.
You’ll see him at Newcastle next year: Dimitri Payet
With the player of the weekend, I’ll try to avoid all PSG players as it would make it too predictable otherwise. Dimitri Payet has always been a very talented player, technically gifted, and the French International (7 caps) would be playing in Premier League already if it wasn’t for his inconsistency. With two goals last Friday, he was key to Marseille’s win over Nice in the Côte d’Azur Derby. Marcelo Bielsa is known to get the best out of the players he coaches. For Dimitri Payet, it’s a sign of great things to come at the Vélodrome.
The goal of the weekend: Stéphane Ruffier
This week’s selection is a bit special. There have been some decent goals this past weekend in Ligue 1. But I chose Stephane Ruffier’s goal (see below) because it features one of these rare moments of loneliness that only goalkeepers can feel. And also because Ruffier is one of the best goalkeepers in France and he was the hero to Saint-Etienne’s qualification in Europa League last Thursday. And also because it ruined Les Verts’s defensive efforts and led PSG towards an easy win.
Marseille 4 – 0 Nice
Monaco 1 – 1 Lille
Caen 0 -1 Rennes
Lens 4 – 2 Reims
Lorient 4 – 0 Guingamp
Toulouse 1 – 0 Evian
Nantes 1 – 0 Montpellier
Bordeaux 1 – 1 Bastia
Metz 2 – 1 Lyon
Paris 5 – 0 Saint-Etienne