Ligue 1 blows threat to rid itself of ‘farmers league’ jibe
It becomes now not imagined to manifest like this for Ligue 1, now not with the manner things appeared a fortnight ago. PSG’s Champions League exit changed into possibly down extra to controversial occasions and individual mistakes than the eliminations of Lyon and Rennes. However, notwithstanding the latter two facets having been given the little risk of their ties towards Barcelona and Arsenal, each entered the return legs in advantageous positions, mainly given the gulf in assets and popularity between them and their fighters. What observed for the two sides, but, become a pair of abject shows with a view to doing little to dispel the “farmers’ league” trope that has been a millstone around the neck of Ligue 1 within the recent past.
Lyon, in spite of everything, had been arguably the wonderful package deal of the Champions League organization stage, being indeed one of most straightforward sides to complete unbeaten, and recording near-unbelievable outcomes against Manchester City. In the first leg, that they had ridden their luck (and a negative day trip from Luis Suárez) however had their probabilities in a goalless draw, not handiest keeping themselves inside the tie however also denying the La Liga leaders an away goal.
In the return leg on Wednesday, however, as opposed to taking the sport to Barcelona as they had on the Parc OL, Lyon had been extra bad with Lucas Touart displacing the hugely more creative Houssem Aouar in midfield and the type of players who ought to prosper on the counter (Bertrand Traoré, Maxwell Cornet) given short shift. It is tough to mention something new at this factor on Bruno Génésio, Lyon’s alternately maddening and tremendous manager who has coaxed a number of the membership’s best “publish-austerity” moments from the team (e.G. This season’s group degree, the win over PSG, and 2017’s Europa League semi-final) however has also stumbled badly when handed the initiative, unsure whether to stick or twist. One should forgive Génésio to a few degrees given the level of overall performance from Lionel Messi; such was the Argentine’s play it turned into unlikely that Lyon would have advanced in any occasion, but a poor technique from the outset without the proper guns to play on the counter meant that Lyon’s hopes of progression, clearly realistic, have always been going to founder. Les Gones can nevertheless take coronary heart in their progress to the semi-finals of the Coupe de France, wherein a win over Rennes should see them into a very last which could see Lyon earn a primary trophy in seven years, a run which has accomplished nearly as an awful lot to demoralize the club’s supporters as has the bevy of one-manner visitors inside the switch market. That visitors guarantees that his summer season might be one among trade, because it so regularly is in Lyon; in addition to his gamers, Génésio may be on the pass, with chairman Jean-Michel Aulas seemingly disposed to put in an extra ambitious supervisor. A Coupe de France win, progress to the knockout degree of the Champions League and a pinnacle three end is a robust season for Lyon, but the membership continue to be not able to shake a loss of decisiveness, each on and off the pitch, and something desires to trade for Lyon to make the excellent of the expertise that they have. Rennes, beneath Julien Stéphan, may also be upset to have blown a 3-1 lead against Arsenal. The young manager, who has been key to the Breton aspect’s development in current months, also got his technique wrong at the Emirates on Thursday. Like Lyon, the occasion may have been a bridge too a long way for the incredibly callow Stéphan and his green (in European phrases) institution of players, but Rennes did not take any initiative against Unai Emery’s side, even knowing that an away purpose would have changed Arsenal’s position from tough to desperate.
It is hard to slate Stéphan an excessive amount of right here, but the reality of the problem is that on a historical night time for his club, he failed to seize the possibility. Rennes, barring prevailing the Coupe de France, is an out of doors shot at first-class to get back into Europe following season, in spite of an in shape in hand. Injuries have curtailed Rennes’ season to a few degrees. However the club’s hierarchy had been investing at a close to-ancient stage in current windows, and a slinking goes out while progression regarded a real opportunity is a sadness.
Wherever each of PSG, Lyon, and Rennes locate themselves next season, the contemporary marketing campaign’s tenor of unhappiness and what-approximately-ism is one that is not likely to be forgotten any time quickly. It is a fact that on their day, French facets in Europe have the expertise and money to in reality go toe-to-toe with Europe’s elite, but it appears it’s miles now a count of having the clubs themselves to trust that they could do so on a steady foundation. Until that takes place, Ligue 1 will continue to battle with this crisis of identification and belief, one which appears unfortunately self-inflicted. Talking points • The weekend’s major event became “Le Classique,” and Marseille, regardless of failing to win, gave a more than astonishing account of themselves before Steve Mandanda’s sending off, taking the initiative at some point of and quick pulling an intention again after going behind just earlier than the interval. Mandanda, the club’s lone source of continuity from their maximum recent era of fulfillment beneath Didier Deschamps, changed into among those called up through his former club supervisor for Les Bleus remaining Thursday. However, it’s difficult to justify his inclusion with other, younger alternatives additionally available (Lille’s Mike Maignan). It would be harsh to return down too hard on Mandanda, however with Marseille tantalizingly close to a go back to the Champions League, it’s far harsh not to think about Mandanda needing to be placed on the shelf as Dimitri Payet, Adil Rami, and Luiz Gustavo had been in recent weeks. • Could Guingamp pull off the impossible? The Breton facet earned a nervy win over Dijon in a relegation six-pointer and moved off the lowest of the table, and above both Caen and their opponents in the method. For an aspect that regarded useless and buried a month in the past, the Breton facet has made strides in recent weeks, recording two wins and attracts of their ultimate five fits. Avoiding the relegation play-off continues to be a stretch, with Amiens an also seven points in advance, however for the first time given that the beginning of the campaign, there is now a modicum of positivity on the Stade Roudourou. • Finally, Lyon shook off their abject performance in opposition to Barcelona to pinnacle Montpellier three-2. It becomes a win made unnecessarily nervy by using a late intention from Souleymane Camara and a neglected penalty from Nabil Fékir. However, one that, coupled with Lille’s loss to Monaco, noticed Les Gones area towards the top. Martin Terrier scored an opportunistic opener, his fourth of the season, and there’s a growing experience that young attacker is beginning to come into his personality.