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Philippe Nguyen

An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)  

  1. 1.

    • Bordeaux (glory supporter! :p)
    • Lyon (obviously don't keep up with Ligue 1 ;))
    • Toulouse (but they suck?!)
    • Auxerre (boooo defensive play!)
      0
    • Lille (Eden Hazard)
    • All ('cause you love Ligue 1 that much :))
    • None (hater...)


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Mid-Season Review

Took me long enough to find the time for this. All that schoolwork and soccer and family reunions and socializing and dilly dallying is over now - for the most part. To take advantage of this time, I chose to do a review of what has happened thus far involving some of the most interesting sides in Ligue 1 and my views on how the rest of the season could unfold for them, as well as some discussion on the transfer window. Anyway, I have nothing better to do than ruffle through pages and pages of statistics. :D Enjoy.

Crème de la Crème

2 August, 2008. A mere week before the 2008-09 season of Ligue 1 kicks off, Olympique Lyonnais, who once again reigned victorious in the 2007-08 Ligue 1 season and the Coupe de France, face the Ligue 1 runners-up Bordeaux, who finished the season four points behind the champions, in the Trophée de Champions, the French equivalent of the English Community Shield. Lyon, the favorites, are intent on lifting the title for the seventh successive time, to match their glorious seven-season title streak in the league. The match, goalless by the end of extra-time, must be decided on penalties, and a failure by Lyon center-back Cris to convert his opportunity hands Bordeaux their first ever Trophèe de Champions and ends Lyon's streak. The Bordeaux victory is a brow-raising one, a mysterious precursor to the end of an era.

30 May 2009. Caen are relegated to Ligue 2 as they fall victim to FC Girondins de Bordeaux, who creep by with just a goal in their favor. Bordeaux, who win only by a single goal from Gouffran, lift the Ligue 1 title for the first time in a decade. After seven years of complete dominance of the top tier of French football by Olympique Lyon, Bordeaux ascend to the throne. Their goal above all is to succeed Lyon and reign supreme.

It is now 2010, and the reigning champions have not failed to live up to their hopes and their fans' expectations thus far. We could use a progress report. The first seven weeks of this season for them yielded not a single loss in the league. In all competitions, Les Girondins pulled off a gargantuan feat, a series of twenty-two games without a single defeat, between March and October. It required a shock result from at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard, when Saint-Etienne hosted them, for the champions - who, by the way, also lifted the Trophèe de Champions a second time after defeating Coupe de France champions EA Guingamp - to finally succumb to defeat. Even then, all competitions considered, Bordeaux have only lost three times since that match: a 1-0 loss to Auxerre the following week for the same reason as the first loss (We will explore this later when we examine things.), a defeat at the hands of Lille, and one against Valenciennes for the same reason again. It is indeed worth noting as well that Bordeaux won every single one of their group stage matches in the UEFA Champions League except for one, a 1-1 draw against Juventus. How is Bordeaux exerting such a superior presence over its contenders?

First, we must look at this from a broad scope and find a general idea before we examine the specifics. Bordeaux, of course, are currently at the top of Ligue 1. Last season, they were 2nd around this point, so there has been positive change. They have 43 points in the league, 9 more than 2nd place Lille. Despite there goal count of 32 being slightly inferior to their current underclassmen, Bordeaux have the best defensive record, only having conceded a dozen goals this season. Only three goals have been conceded at home.

Now to the specifics. Here, we can find some hard evidence. The best way to understand how they are succeeding is to look at how they are not: the defeats must be examined first, and inferences need to be made on these observations. These are the four games that Bordeaux lost this season, including interesting facts:

Saint-Etienne 3-1 Bordeaux

Saint-Etienne scored first, in the 8th minute. Bordeaux did not have Gourcuff. Chamakh and Cavenaghi came on only as second-half substitutes. Possession, which favored Bordeaux, had clearly no effect on the result. Bordeaux are playing away.

Auxerre 1-0 Bordeaux

Auxerre often rely on stalwart defending, launching counter-attacks to score. Gourcuff was again absent until the 70th minute. Chamakh and Cavenaghi, however, started. This happened to be the game right after their last defeat. Possession again was inversely related to the scoreline. The only goal was a penalty. Bordeaux are playing away.

Lille 2-0 Bordeaux

Bordeaux have Gourcuff and Chamakh starting. Lille are in good form, and soon prove it with a run of spectacular performances still ongoing. Bordeaux are playing away.

Bordeaux 0-1 Valenciennes

Bordeaux are at home now. Chamakh is injured and taken off in the first half, while Gourcuff is absent altogether. Not only does possession hugely favor Bordeaux, but this time so do shots. VA score an early goal 7 minutes in. This happened to be just one week after losing to Lille.

We can draw from the first three games that Bordeaux are a tad weaker away from home. This does not explain everything, though, as they have won many away games. Gourcuff and Chamakh seem to have highly influential roles. When Gourcuff did not play in the first, second, and fourth loss, Bordeaux lost. Chamakh's absence can be connected to the first and last games. This is no surprise, considering that Chamakh, with 6 goals, is the team's top scorer, and Gourcuff, with 6 assists and 5 goals, is the top player overall in the team. The third game is a valid defeat for Bordeaux, but it must be taken into consideration that Lille have, statistically, the most productive attack in the league. Therefore, Bordeaux in a way can be partially "excused" from losing while still having Gourcuff and Chamakh. Also, only three times have Bordeaux conceded an early goal (In this case, a goal must be within the first 15 minutes to count as such.), and two of those times resulted in a loss. The other time shook up Bordeaux a lot during their one-goal win against TFC. Top this off with the fact that Bordeaux cannot seem to capitalize efficiently on possession, which they often dominate, and the conclusion reached is that Bordeaux's attacking play is easily undermined when they concede before scoring and when they are without their stars. Ultimately, we can say - through deductive reasoning - that the driving force in Bordeaux is highly psychological and technical: there is a slight reliance on playing at home, which is not surprising, and a massive moral reliance on the partnership of Gourcuff and Chamakh to inspire their team's attacking play and make the most out of the possession they get, as without these guys, the team virtually gives up and cannot create anything, regardless of their statistical dominance.

What, then, is the ultimate fate of Bordeaux? The answer is simply down to the Chamakh saga. Those who read my transfer updates know how much of a nuisance it is (or at least to me) to see "Chamakh this" and "Chamakh that" and "Chamakh here" and "Chamakh there". The cold, hard truth is that if Chamakh leaves, Bordeaux will, literally, lose about 50% of their chances of making the most of what they have. All for about £4-6 million. If Chamakh stays this January, Laurent Blanc can sit back and relax, as he will have very little to worry about with his team just about guaranteed a second consecutive championship. However, with Chamakh already claiming that, even if he stays until the Summer, he will not sign a new contract, Bordeaux's possible hopes of a third successive title are seriously disrupted. The effect it would have on Bordeaux is staggering. Suddenly, Chamakh has just become one of the most valuable players in Ligue 1. :eek: So, if Bordeaux, whether by a drop in form for one of these two stars or by the departure of one of them, are not to rise victorious come the month of May, who will?

Not Just a Lil' Club!

Enter LOSC Lille Métropole, the brainchild of Rudi Garcia and the institution of kickin'… butt. :P Many of you who follow my thread recall my extensive analysis of Lille. Here is the link: http://forum.soccermanager.com/showpost.php?p=857061&postcount=1441. As it is unnecessary for me to repeat myself, I will only recapitulate on what was discovered in that analysis. The following held true about Lille:

1.) They have a very balanced attack, with a wide range of players taking shots and scoring, rather than having a sole "target-man", which was proven to be an inefficient method of play. Examples include the dependence of TFC on Gignac, Monaco on Nenê, Nice on Rémy, and Le Mans on Le Tallec - in all cases, these players took the most shots for their clubs, so much so that not one else did, implying a lack of team effort (Instead, the teams that seemed to do best in their attacking play all had multiple players in the top-30 list of shot-takers.).

2.) A huge factor influencing Lille is home advantage. Lille have been much worse away than at home, but thanks to their stunning home record, they have been able to stay alive and lay waste to any visitors. In fact, only once, in their opening day match against Lorient, have Lille failed to make do of the atmosphere at the Stadium Lille-Métropole.

3.) Lille can thank their latest manager, Rudi Garcia, for a number of reasons. Yes, these players are doing a lot on the pitch, but Garcia has done well to make sure they could - for just £8 million he brought in Gervinho, £10 million less than the amount received from Bastos' departure. His keeping of Rami has also proved effective, and Landreau has worked wonders for Lille since replacing Malicki for a meager price.

4.) I did not make this point clearly in my analysis, and I think I should accentuate it here. Fitness has been absolutely no concern for Lille, who are receiving little to no injuries to their players. The months of November and December have been the roughest months all season, and once the season resume, teams will no longer be playing two to three times a week. Lille, however, seem to have fed on this fitness concern. They peculiar immunity to sustaining injuries has been a major beneficent in their massive victories in December. Simply said, while every other team is bickering about replacements and injuries and the wear-and-tear of the season, Lille has taken advantage of this time very effectively, staying fit and thrashing unfit sides.

The future of Lille may lie in just that - the season match schedule. The winter break did not just give teams a break after being marauded by Lille; it is a signal to all teams that there will be much fewer games than before, meaning fitness for many sides may not be as big a concern. The result is a smaller advantage for Lille, as they will be less able to exploit those shrinking concerns. Additionally, the strong teams that Lille played during the first half of the season were all visiting teams, so the second half will yield a number of games in which Lille will be playing away against serious opposition - especially Lyon and Bordeaux. Lille's chances of robbing Bordeaux of a second consecutive title are existent, but they may diminish as time wears on, unless Garcia adapts to the more balanced half of the season, perhaps through transfer window activity or something else. Time will tell.

I Used to Rule the World…

Seas would rise when I gave the word; now every morning I sleep alone, sweep the streets I used to own... Sorry, I'm a Coldplay fan. :P Anyway, we now turn our gazes to a gloomier side of Ligue 1, to the scowling bunch of fellows at the Stade Gerland who once were the unchallenged, unthreatened seven-time champions of France but now since Olympique Lyonnais.

The tragedy of OL is no abrupt end to a steady reign, though. Lyon, in fact, have been following a very hill-like pattern since rising to dominance. Currently, Lyon have only 30 points in the league, after 19 matches. The table below shows Lyon's mid-season progress in terms of points in their last ten seasons, this season included.

Untitled-1-1.jpg

Given that Lyon did not succeed in snatching the Ligue 1 title in the 2000/01 and 2008/09 seasons, we can infer that their hopes of reclaiming the title are dim, as their mid-season progress this season is their lowest since before they even embarked on their domination of Ligue 1. This link below leads to the Guardian Stats Centre's "League Pos. Analysis" of Lyon, and their graph clearly show that Lyon are not worse than their past several seasons, but they are declining still. Even their manager, Claude Puel, has somberly commented on his team's situation with little optimism. Puel said to Ligue1.com, "There's no point at looking at top spot, or even a place in the top three at the moment… Firstly, we need to concentrate on our own play, put all the ingredients into the mix... whether it be physical, technical, movement, play simple... play well... then the results will come...” These words are far from hopeful and show the harsh reality of Lyon's progress (or regress, shall I say?) this season.

This is not to say that Lyon lack a strong team. The players are there: Lisandro Lopez is inarguably a game-changing goal machine, and Bafetimbi Gomis is just a bit short of him; Toulalan is perhaps the best defensive midfielder in the French top tier; and Hugo Lloris is simply France's current and quite likely permanent goalkeeper.

However, the main problem at Lyon has been down to problem that the club failed to assess properly last season: the year-round injury dilemma. The Lyon defense, with the exception of goalkeeper Lloris, has been very shaky from the start, not just plagued with injuries, but actually incompetent towards other teams' offensive plays. In fact, Lyon's attackers have not been so shabby. After all, who can deny Lopez and Gomis in terms of goalscoring instinct? On the attack table, Lyon are currently 4th place, only half a dozen goals from first-place Lille. However, their defensive table standing is a jaw-dropping 13 - they have conceded 26 goals, more than two times as many goals as Bordeaux have conceded, 12. Consider the last decade of French football. In no season, from 2000 to 2010, has Lyon been this low at the mid-season point. This has been the lowest ever mid-season defensive record since Lyon conceded 28 times in 19 weeks back in the 1996/97 season, well over a decade ago. We can find an explanation to this shocking collapse in the squad.

Although Cris has - rather - a commanding role, Boumsong is only average and Bodmer is not naturally a defender (The now-central-defender was once a midfielder with a future until his recent change in position at Lyon.). Réveillère is often injured and still is only average when he plays. His replacement, Clerc, cannot seem to stay fit. He, too, is not champions-of-France quality (Chalmé of Bordeaux is easily better than these guys.), and the third in line is Gassama, who is a good prospect, but just too young. Toulalan suffered an injury that stunted the midfield's strength significantly, and for a few games this season the French national team holding defender had to play in the defense due to injuries.

Also, the lack of a solid starting eleven could be preventing the team from gelling together correctly. Compare Lyon to Bordeaux, a much more successful team at the moment, to the misfortune of the former, and the effect of a concrete line-up is evident. By looking at the "Analysis" section of each clubs' page on football-lineups.com, we can see apparent differences: Lyon have had three players play at right-back, five at center-back, four at left-back, eight on the right wing, eight on the left wing, eight in the center of midfield, and six in the forward role(s); in contrast, Bordeaux have had only two different players feature at right-back, five at center-back, two at left back, four on each wing, six in the middle, and four in the front. Even more interesting is that, as far as football-lineups.com's interpretations of positions go, Makoun is the only midfielder, left, right or center, to have exceeded ten starts in a single position.

In conclusion, Lyon are a team who have fallen victim to both injuries and uncertainties in the team's line-up. Additionally, the pressure exerted on them to redeem themselves and return to the top of Ligue 1 is staggering, and it just might have been the final punch needed to knock them just about out of the title race. Puel nailed it in his interview with Ligue1.com. What Lyon now must do is to completely reconstruct themselves and find a way to revive the spirit that they once played with if they want to get back in this.

Mastering the Defensive Game

Auxerre currently are 5th in the league, and at a glance, one may want to thank players like the Polish striker Ireneusz Jelen for their offensive productivity. Looks indeed can be very deceptive - it is actually safe to say that Auxerre are the exact opposite of Lyon. The club are a meager 13th place on the offensive table, with just 19 goals scored (Jelen, their top goal scorer, has a modest goal tally of four.). However, they stand second on the defensive table, with only 15 goals conceded, three more than Bordeaux. This defensive superiority has supplied Auxerre with a powerful advantage over many teams. Their play is often based on the counter-attack, unleashing itself to an opposition striving too hard to break the back four. Apparently, this defensive mastery has been highly productive, as Auxerre have not fallen below 7th place since Week 9, and they completed the previous season in 8th place. This current position of 5th could well be their very best position in years.

Perhaps Puel could learn something from his Auxerre counterpart, Jean Fernandez, here. Auxerre have one of the more stable back four in the league. Almost every Auxerre game features Hengbart on the right, Gritchting on the left, and Coulibaly and Mignot in the middle. Coulibaly stands as the 5th best defender in the league by L'Equipe's ratings, an Hengbart at one point had the very same spot. In addition, Sorin has been good for them between the posts. Examining AJA's matches this season shows that they have only conceded goals in two of their wins, showing just how formidable their defenders are in shutting out the opposition. Triumphs over attacking teams like Marseille, Bordeaux, and Lille only further support this.

Not Mastering the Game at All

Introducing Toulouse FC, the most disappointing team of the season by far. Upon examining some of TFC's history and the club's current situation, it becomes quite a wonder as to how a club almost an exact clone of Auxerre in terms of play can be separated so widely from its northern counterpart. The similarities are shocking. The Violets have scored precisely 19 goals, the very same amount as Auxerre. They have conceded 16, only one less than Auxerre have. However, the gulf between the two sides in the general league table is a massive ten positions, with Auxerre holding 5th and Toulouse 15th. The answer may just lay in the tactical and psychological approaches of these two sides.

First, the mental half of the game. Obviously, if two sides are scoring and conceding at the same rate, the only factor capable of affecting the league positions of those two sides is the distribution of those goals, something that ultimately boils down to a little aspect of football we call consistency. A glance at the league games TFC have played this season reveals a crystal clear truism of their season: they have been extremely inconsistent. This goes beyond winning and losing streaks; TFC have never, at any time this season, won, lost, or drawn two games in a row. Every win is followed by a loss or draw, every loss by a win or draw, and every draw by a win or loss. Not only are TFC one of the most, if not the most, inconsistent team in the top tier of French football. Although it may be misleading at first, TFC have also been highly consistent, and this consistency has been in terms of the goals they concede. To cut the statistical chatter, when TFC concede goals, most of these goals happen to be in their losses, and the scarcity in the goals they concede mean only one thing: because they do not have all their conceded goals bunched up in a few games, their goals are distributed evenly, leading to more losses. As the phrase goes by some manager whom I cannot recall, "I would rather lose 3-0 once than 1-0 three times". In both cases, three goals are conceded, but in the first case, six league points are spared as opposed to the alternative. Toulouse are that alternative. All this, to wrap it up, is a confusing way to say that Toulouse are just plain inconsistent and they have just happened to concede goals in the wrong games.

Toulouse follow a method that just has not managed to work itself out, despite its success last season. The basic Toulouse mindset last season was derived from fundamental inductive reasoning: Gignac scores a lot, so we should always chuck the ball to Gignac. Alain Casanova understood this and responded by assuming a 4-5-1 formation, with Gignac spearheading the team, to maximize output. The tactics worked magic as Gignac finished his season as top goalscorer. This season, Gignac has scored just a quintet of goals this season. He had a dozen at this same time last season, which doubled by the end of the season. Statistically speaking, Gignac should be able only to score about ten goals by May. Gervinho has exceeded that count last month. The problem with Toulouse's ways are not just that they are faulty, but that they are changing. How do we know this? Casanova has switched around midfielders countless times this season, but at no point did he dropped the idea of slamming long balls toward Gignac's side of the pitch and pressuring him to shoot, expecting the striker, who obviously is in bad form, to score. Additionally, Gignac has continued to reign supreme in shots. Five more attempts at goal and APG will have taken a shocking number of 100 shots this season. Remember, he has only scored five times. That puts his scoring success at about one in 20 shots. To compare, Nenê of Monaco has scored ten times in only about 70 shots, a success rate of just one in seven shots. This heavy reliance on Gignac to take just about every shot Toulouse can think of is not just damaging to Gignac's morale, but ridiculous considering its lack of success.

Gignac seems to be the key man, here. The striker has loads of pressure to perform exceptionally, and it is obviously getting to him. What is more of a problem, however, is the fact that Toulouse have not opted out of the fling-the-ball-Gignac-and-hope-that-he-will-score-every-twenty-times tactic. The bright side is that others have stepped up to the plate. By that, I mean Moussa Sissoko, the midfield sensation who has so far scored six times from his spot in DM and AM. The guy is just sublime. Still, he is not a striker, and Gignac is still alone at the front. Worth noting is the fact that TFC have no other forward. Pentecote, the closest to even playing, does not make the cut. Could it be that Casanova is currently searching for a striker to possibly partner Gignac, avoiding the catastrophic attacking style his squad is playing with? A two-striker formation would definitely loosen the pressure on Gignac, who, due to Pentecote's incompetence, has had to play week in and week out. I say, give the guy a break and make a two-man attack out of this. Then, Casanova can have Sissoko beside or in front of Capoue or Didot. Just my two cents.

At this rate, however, Toulouse are just not finding consistency in their matches and not getting the most out of their squad, which is actually quite formidable. Unless Casanova changes things around, Toulouse will not be able to produce a shock comeback and return to the top half of the table.

In Conclusion

There are many teams I have not managed to cover, and if I did (or do) cover them all, it would take me an equally long post. Time prevents me from continuing, however. If I feel like it (Your opinions are worthless! ;)), I will follow this up with a Part 2. I would bet on it, as my next week could be a rather open one for me. Right. Back to the soccer. Rather than introducing any linking ideas, I just want to summarize what may be in store for each of these five clubs.

Bordeaux are still favorites for the title, as their unstoppable Gourcuff-Chamakh partnership is about as dangerous as me with ice skates (Interesting story I have, in fact…). However, their major problem is dealing with Chamakh's imminent departure during the Summer. Lille are the favorites if Les Girondins flunk out. They have the greatest attacking unit Ligue 1 has to offer, and Garcia's genius has made them somehow immune to exhaustion. Lyon's chances of success are slim, and will have to seriously fix up their defense and bolster their squad's fitness levels if they want a chance at bringing the Ligue 1 trophy back to the Stade Gerland. Auxerre are currently flying high primarily thanks to a formidable defense and skillful counter-attacks. Toulouse, similar to them in terms of goals scored and conceded, have failed to put up a challenge due to tactics in serious need of revising and some horrendous inconsistent results.

Sound good? Better be. Now let me have my sleep. Dammit Ligue 1, you've deprived me of enough sleep! :P

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

I'm glad my idea is spreading ;) Excellent thread, Phillipe (as usual). It was a good read and thanks for giving us (poor, unsophisticated, unfrench) people some knowledge.

However, I do have to add that the poll is totally biased and doesn't even have a choice: "other". I'm very disappointed Phillipe - you've been a bad boy!

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

That's some nice reading. Banging job! I've gotta spread it...

I went for "all", but only because I don't have a preference in that selection. Had Rennes been included, then obviously that would have changed. ;)

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

First thigns first: awesome analysis! Then few comments.

First' date=' we must look at this from a broad scope and find a general idea before we examine the specifics. Bordeaux, of course, are currently at the top of Ligue 1. Last season, they were 2nd around this point, so there has been positive change. They have 43 points in the league, 9 more than 2nd place Lille. Despite there goal count of 32 being slightly inferior to their current underclassmen, Bordeaux have the best defensive record, only having conceded a dozen goals this season. Only three goals have been conceded at home.

[...']

What, then, is the ultimate fate of Bordeaux? The answer is simply down to the Chamakh saga. Those who read my transfer updates know how much of a nuisance it is (or at least to me) to see "Chamakh this" and "Chamakh that" and "Chamakh here" and "Chamakh there". The cold, hard truth is that if Chamakh leaves, Bordeaux will, literally, lose about 50% of their chances of making the most of what they have. All for about £4-6 million. If Chamakh stays this January, Laurent Blanc can sit back and relax, as he will have very little to worry about with his team just about guaranteed a second consecutive championship. However, with Chamakh already claiming that, even if he stays until the Summer, he will not sign a new contract, Bordeaux's possible hopes of a third successive title are seriously disrupted. The effect it would have on Bordeaux is staggering. Suddenly, Chamakh has just become one of the most valuable players in Ligue 1. :eek: So, if Bordeaux, whether by a drop in form for one of these two stars or by the departure of one of them, are not to rise victorious come the month of May, who will?[

So, first: Bordeaux defense staying solid no matter what shows how little Diawara meant for it after all: it's basically Planus and Chalmé that matter - plus the solidity of the system. I mean, not only are same guys playing always with each other, and only one player is changed at the time, but the way they play stays the same and the new player is always introduced to the old system. Bordeaux's defense has been top for years now, it has courage to play up forward and keep the ball because it has used to do so.

Second, I do not believe Chamakh's departure would drop Bordeaux from the title fight. He is replacable. Even without Gourcuff and Chamakh they would still be a top team, only perhaps not having that little extra something to make them win in important matches. Gourcuff's departure, if that would happen at some point, would of course mean that team would rely on other means again. They just did that against Juve, didn't they. Currently Bordeaux should be attractive enough team to get new top level players. If only whole team isn't lost all at once, but Triaud can keep on building up the team calmly, and players are transfered one by one in long intervals, I don't believe that Bordeaux will fall for loss of any single player and if it would this player would be Gourcuff and not Chamakh. And this is with all respect to Chamakh. Although one must note that Chamakh has been in Bordeaux since 2001, so all the success Bordeaux has and has not had during 21st century has been with Chamakh. But still, he hasn't been that big factor without Gourcuff and indeed he was there as a rotation forward when team didn't compete that well.

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

Enter LOSC Lille Métropole' date=' the brainchild of Rudi Garcia and the institution of kickin'… butt. :P Many of you who follow my thread recall my extensive analysis of Lille. Here is the link: [url']http://forum.soccermanager.com/showpost.php?p=857061&postcount=1441[/url]. As it is unnecessary for me to repeat myself, I will only recapitulate on what was discovered in that analysis. The following held true about Lille:[/font]

[...]

1.) They have a very balanced attack, with a wide range of players taking shots and scoring, rather than having a sole "target-man", which was proven to be an inefficient method of play. Examples include the dependence of TFC on Gignac, Monaco on Nenê, Nice on Rémy, and Le Mans on Le Tallec - in all cases, these players took the most shots for their clubs, so much so that not one else did, implying a lack of team effort (Instead, the teams that seemed to do best in their attacking play all had multiple players in the top-30 list of shot-takers.).

[...]

4.) I did not make this point clearly in my analysis, and I think I should accentuate it here. Fitness has been absolutely no concern for Lille, who are receiving little to no injuries to their players. The months of November and December have been the roughest months all season, and once the season resume, teams will no longer be playing two to three times a week. Lille, however, seem to have fed on this fitness concern. They peculiar immunity to sustaining injuries has been a major beneficent in their massive victories in December. Simply said, while every other team is bickering about replacements and injuries and the wear-and-tear of the season, Lille has taken advantage of this time very effectively, staying fit and thrashing unfit sides.

First, LOSC's "institution of kickin' buttocks" ain't simply a brain child of Garcia's, as this good project has been running for years before him. Not to say I wouldn't think he has done great job, but team is overall very well managed - just like Bastos testified before leaving for Lyon - ha ha! move to a bigger club and lose to your former one....

Second, I think this balance especially in attack has a lot to do with Lille having no fitness problems. Their winning run was amazing indeed. At one point they took 7 consecutive victories in just 3 weeks time. That was immense. So, the balance means a good rotation system: Lille has throughout the season played different guys in attack in consecutive games. None of their big heros have played full season. Expect for some defenders, but with Lille's "let's roll" tactics the defense mainly kicks the ball forward to midfielders who again get it fast up to feed the attack and the shots are taken fast fast fast. LOSC's defenders don't play so big part in creating the offense as do those of les Girondins.

With LOSC there's way bigger possibility of significant losses in transfer market than with Bordeaux, by the way. LOSC is again, after this season, likely to lose some of it's biggest and shiniest stars. Probably at least Cabaye and Rami, very possibly at least one of the important wingers, most likely Hazard who has been followed by probably every single club that could imagine being able to attract him one day.

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

I Used to Rule the World…

Seas would rise when I gave the word; now every morning I sleep alone' date=' sweep the streets I used to own... Sorry, I'm a Coldplay fan. [/quote']

Funny, me too. Although I don't feel that's something to be apologized. ;)

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Thanks for the table. Very interesting.

"There's no point at looking at top spot' date=' or even a place in the top three at the moment… Firstly, we need to concentrate on our own play, put all the ingredients into the mix... whether it be physical, technical, movement, play simple... play well... then the results will come...” These words are far from hopeful and show the harsh reality of Lyon's progress (or regress, shall I say?) this season.[/quote']

And isn't this exactly the same he said at mid point of last season. I mean, how much time do they need to "just concentrate on their own play".

This is not to say that Lyon lack a strong team. The players are there: Lisandro Lopez is inarguably a game-changing goal machine' date=' and Bafetimbi Gomis is just a bit short of him; Toulalan is perhaps the best defensive midfielder in the French top tier; and Hugo Lloris is simply France's current and quite likely permanent goalkeeper.[/font']

Indeed. Compare OL's defense to that of AJA and then the number of goals each team has conceded and you're shocked :eek: ...how on earth can that super duper multimillionaire defense make Lloris concede about twice as many goals than Sorin (no offense, but Sorin just has never ever before been praised as a superb keeper and there's a reason too it, as there's reason why he hasn't and won't be tried for l'EDF) concedes in that little village club (again, no offense, but Auxerre ain't exactly a metropole).

how can you mess up your success so badly.... well, on OL's side we must mention that they have also built very well on that success, so it's not like it would have dropped to them from the heavens and they just failed to keep it in their hands after catching it. I believe OL is very likely to rebound, the club is healthy.

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

This AJA vs. TFC comparison is interesting indeed, especially when you consider the Auxerre's case: how on earth they made it that high with that bad goal difference. And, well, it's exactly as you put it: lots of 1-0 victories and when losing, losing by a lot. not a mark of big team, but a way to success surely. I have to say, AJA going to CL would be catastrophical. Again, this is no offense, but look at that football! and their chances lie in this league form where they can make it to top 5 or 6 (never win) by having a lot of small victories and goalless draws.

Dédé's job would be a lot easier if he had some offensive support, I mean other than mainly defensive midfielders. So, perhaps buying a new forward would increase Gignac's goal count. Also, as I mentionned before the season that Tabanou doesn't have huge task to make it a starter in TFC because the wide mids aren't star caliber, indeed he has become a starter and this doesn't only signal Tabanou being a true talent but also the clear lack of quality offensive midfielders.

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

I'm glad my idea is spreading ;) Excellent thread' date=' Phillipe (as usual). It was a good read and thanks for giving us (poor, unsophisticated, unfrench) people some knowledge.

However, I do have to add that the poll is totally biased and doesn't even have a choice: "other". I'm very disappointed Phillipe - you've been a bad boy![/quote']

I only included teams from the analysis. Should I produce a sequel to this, containing reviews of other teams, you would see other teams. In this case, though, the point is to choose among the ones presented in the post, as if the others didn't exist. So, if you don't like any of them, click none... you hater. ;):P:D

I voted for Toulouse' date=' because Porto's former youngster Paulo Machado plays there :P.[/quote']

I had a feeling that was the reason... :P:D

That's some nice reading. Banging job! I've gotta spread it...

I went for "all"' date=' but only because I don't have a preference in that selection. Had Rennes been included, then obviously that would have changed. ;)[/quote']

They'd be included if/when there's a part 2. ;)

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

I only included teams from the analysis. Should I produce a sequel to this' date=' containing reviews of other teams, you would see other teams. In this case, though, the point is to choose among the ones presented in the post, as if the others didn't exist. So, if you don't like any of them, click none... you hater. ;):P:D

[/quote']

Nay. I'm not a hater - I'm a fan of Gourcuff and that should've pointed where I was going to tick the box ;)

Furthermore, I totally agree with Didi. I will probably be a minority here, but I feel that both Dzeko and Chamakh are very overrated. They're good forwards, but nowhere near most people see them. Bordeaux have been building and getting strong for a while, but the main shadows behind their success are their star playmaker and their coach. The combination of two took the strong to the next level - a dangerous European power. While I don't think that departure of Chamakh will destroy the side, the departure of either Gourcuff or Blanc would do much more damage. Bordeaux have a great squad, but they still need the genius of Gourcuff (who can save them at any game) and Blanc, who can do the tactics and motivate the side.

However, I do agree with everything else in your analysis (and Didi's too (that may be due to the fact that I'm not that knowledgeable at French football)). Thanks to both of you for all of this :)

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

I support Lyon and Stras. But I have family in both and was going to support them whether they were top of the league or in division three! (Go S.R. Délémont in Switzerland! :D)

As for the post; I think it definatly belongs in the "Cream of SM" Category.

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Re: An Extensive Mid-Season Review and Analysis of Ligue 1 (2009/10)

I support Lyon and Stras. But I have family in both and was going to support them whether they were top of the league or in division three! (Go S.R. Délémont in Switzerland! :D)

As for the post; I think it definatly belongs in the "Cream of SM" Category.

Both Didi and Phillipe have been in that category for a long time - it's just that people don't notice that. They both can analyze what they see and then later on explain it in an exciting fashion.

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