What a difference a week makes. Having equalled Monaco’s 50 year unbeaten record of six wins from their opening six league games, Olympique Marseille crashed back down to earth with a 4-1 away defeat to Valenciennes FC.
Having risen like a phoenix from the flames of last season’s disappointments, Marseille were easy prey for their opponents and looked more like the Didier Deschamps’ side of the previous campaign.
A woeful defensive display, added to by disastrous goalkeeping errors, cost OM dearly with former Liverpool striker Anthony Le Tallec and winger Gael Danic pulling the strings in an impressive Valenciennes victory.
Marseille had won just one of their previous eight meetings with VAFC at the Stade de Hainault, and predecessor the Stade Nungesser, but nobody would have predicted the beating they were to receive at the hands of their northern opponents.
Having dominated from the start, Valenciennes took the lead after quarter of an hour’s play. Gael Danic’s terrific freekick left Mandanda stranded and forced to blame his wall for poor positioning.
Danic turned provider 20 minutes later with some sublime skill down the left, leaving the OM defence flat footed before playing in Le Tallec to fire home.
However, it was to worsen for the league leaders just before half time. France number two Mandanda’s dreadful attempt at a throw out landed at the feet of VAFC midfielder Foued Kadir, who fired into an empty net without hesitation.
Marseille offered little in the way of a comeback in the second half, and Kadir linked up well with Le Tallec for the forward to head home his second of the game on 64 minutes.
A stoppage time Jordan Ayew strike was stark consolation for OM, who will need to reorganize in time for their Europa League tie with AEL Limassol FC and next weekend’s much anticipated encounter with Paris Saint-Germain at the Velodrome.
The Parisians had to call upon an unlikely hero in their 2-0 victory over Sochaux at the Parc des Princes.
A double from striker Kevin Gameiro – his first goals since April – saw PSG continue their rise up the league table. Gameiro, who many thought would be sacrificed following the summer signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ezequiel Lavezzi, was the star of the show with two fine finishes from close range.
The France international hit a reasonable 11 goals last season after a big money move from Lorient in 2011, but has found playing time hard to come by this year. Despite strong interest from Valencia in the summer, Gameiro chose to stay in the capital and he took full advantage of his first start of the season, returning the faith shown to him by coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Gameiro was among a number of changes, as Ancelotti had one eye on this week’s Champions League meeting with Porto.
Paris Saint-Germain looked solid, if not spectacular against the visitors as they maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign. The win will further boost confidence in what is a big week for the Parisians, who now sit second behind fierce rivals Marseille.
Sunday saw a match 33 years in the making as two of France’s most decorated clubs, Saint-Etienne and Reims, played out a 0-0 draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Both sides have been sleeping giants in recent times – a far cry from the glory years of the 1950’s through to the late 70’s, where star names such as Raymond Kopa, Just Fontaine and Michel Platini would feature.
Having struggled in the lower echelons of French football in recent times, Reims have made a resurgent return to the top flight, losing only two of their opening seven games of the season. The performances of captain Mickael Tacalfred, youngster Christopher Glombard and new signing Diego from Tours have got fans dreaming again.
Saint-Etienne have endured a mixed start to the season, drawing too many games they felt they should be winning. Although they have only picked up eight points so far, the quality in their side is evident. Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and playmaker Romain Hamouma have been considered among Ligue 1’s most exciting players this season.
Despite the lack of goals, there was great entertainment on show as Saint-Etienne pushed hard for the breakthrough, dominating possession and creating 18 attempts on goal.
However, it was Reims’ rearguard that proved too strong on the day and the home side will feel hard done by as Aubameyang’s 30th minute strike was harshly ruled out for offside.
Both sides can take positives from the game as they look to rebuild on the nostalgia.
Elsewhere, Lorient maintained their impressive unbeaten start to the campaign with a late Gilles Sunu equaliser away to Evian. Lyon were handed their first defeat of the season in a 2-0 loss to Bordeaux at the Stade Gerland, while champions Montpellier received a morale boosting 2-0 win away to Nancy.
Gameweek 7 – Results
Stade Rennais 2 – 0 LOSC Lille
Evian TG FC 1 – 1 FC Lorient
AC Ajaccio 1 – 0 Stade Brestois
OGC Nice 2 – 2 SC Bastia
ESTAC Troyes 0 – 2 Toulouse
AS Nancy Lorraine 0 – 2 Montpellier
Paris Saint-Germain 2 – 0 FC Sochaux Montbeliard
Valenciennes FC 4 – 1 Olympique de Marseille
AS Saint-Etienne 0 – 0 Stade de Reims
Olympique Lyonnais 0 – 2 Girondins de Bordeaux