The Ligue 1 Review: Five wins out of five for Marseille

Five wins from the opening five — a club record and quite the statement of intent from Marseille who dominated at Nancy but somehow failed to convert any of their first-half chances. The breakthrough came just before the hour courtesy of the Ayew brothers — André crossing for Jordan — and it turned out to be the winner.

An impressive, and perhaps surprising, start from Élie Baup’s team who are beginning to prove themselves as genuine title-contenders alongside Lyon and PSG.

With Lille and Montpellier both seeming to have their minds on the Champions League, their league threats may be somewhat blunted. Marseille’s only potential problem could be a lack of squad depth; with Stéphane Mbia and Alou Diarra departed, their only direct replacement Joey Barton is suspended until November.

PSG are beginning to look comfortable, and they brushed aside the previously unbeaten Toulouse with very little problem on Friday night. Jérémy Ménez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic linked up well, with Ibra netting his fifth of the season.

Earlier in the game, Javier Pastore’s neat chip marked the first non-Ibrahimovic goal of PSG’s season. The Swede said “If I score, I am happy, and if someone else scores I am even happier!” but that seems rather hard to believe.

The slightly less free-scoring Montpellier lost their third game of the season 3-1 away at Reims as, yet again, their defence was cut open far too easily.

Coach René Girard admitted: “This is the first evening where I have had to ask myself some serious questions. We lost our values. We can be ashamed of ourselves tonight.”

The reigning champions have big problems ahead of facing tougher opponents in the Champions League. They face the man who they are missing dearly already, Olivier Giroud, and his Arsenal team, on Tuesday night.

There was a bizarre game at Nice where it was goalless at half-time but finished 4-2 to the hosts.

In truth, Brest were never in the match, with both their goals coming while they were three goals behind, and Nice did enough for their first win of the season.

Sochaux also picked up their first three points with the ultimate smash-and-grab at Saint-Étienne.

Simon Pouplin had an incredible performance, and certainly didn’t look like a keeper who had spent a year without a club, before Thierry Doubaï’s fantastic overhead kick fifteen minutes from time was enough to seal the points for the away side and lift them off the bottom of the table.

Replacing them at the bottom were Troyes, despite a decent point at home to Lille. The 2011 champions haven’t had the most convincing start to the season, and failed to capitalise on their 1-0 lead before conceding a late equaliser.

Rudi Garcia’s side will need to win against BATE on Wednesday to have any chance of getting out of a Champions League group containing Bayern Munich and Valencia.

Alain Traoré was again the star for Lorient in the Brittany derby against Rennes, scoring his third and fourth goals of the season, and once again they were spectacular. A delicious first-time lob over Benoît Costil was followed by a free kick reminiscent of a Roberto Carlos swerving effort.

Alain Traore…. steals the show yet again.

Rennes were uninspiring in a 2-1 defeat that left them third-from-bottom, and their rivals third from the top.

Just above Lorient in second lie Lyon, who did enough to dismiss Ajaccio. It could have been more but for a rather greedy Bafétimbi Gomis who seemed intent on going alone at every opportunity, but a goal in each half from Dejan Lovren and Lisandro López were enough to seal off the visitors.

The Corsican side brought on new signing Adrian Mutu for his debut, but it remains to be seen whether he will turn out to be a useful acquisition or a mere vanity signing.

Six Ligue 1 sides are involved in European competition this midweek, with Montpellier facing the toughest task, against Arsenal.

Interestingly, only Marseille have an away tie, a lengthy trip to Istanbul to face Fenerbahçe, so we may well see some rotation from Élie Baup, giving some of his younger players a chance before refocusing on the league for Sunday’s clash with Évian.

Lille have a home tie with Lyon to prepare for after their Champions League game against BATE, so this week will be crucial in gauging how competitive they will be this season. Lyon themselves will play Sparta Prague on Thursday.

Elsewhere, Bordeaux play Club Brugge in the Europa League and PSG play Dynamo Kiev in Europe’s premier competition.

Paris should be fairly confident in getting out of a group also containing Porto and Dinamo Zagreb, and Tuesday should see the long-awaited debut of record signing Thiago Silva as the side from the capital continue their effort at world domination.

 

Written by Alasdair Shaw

Follow him on Twitter @radalias

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