Ligue 1: PSG without competition, exciting attacks, repeated incidents … What we liked and least liked about the first part of the season

On Wednesday, the last matches of the first leg of Ligue 1 were played. Halfway, the time has come for a first assessment.

And now, it’s time to rest. After one 19 th day full of emotions , Wednesday 22 December, Ligue 1 players benefit from a few days off. The opportunity to take stock of a lively first part of the season, marked by ups and downs.

Spectacle and goals on all levels

So often criticized, Ligue 1 offers a great show this season. This translates to an average of 2, 77 goals per game, a stat higher than the last two seasons at this stage (2, 77 in 2020 – 2020 and 2.5 in 2000 – 2019). If the figure has not yet reached the German or Italian peaks, greater than 3 goals per game, Ligue 1 titillates a Premier League yet more highly rated (2, 92 goals per game) and greatly exceeds the Spanish Liga and its meager 2.5 goals per game

As a result, the number of draws also weakens. With eight small 0-0, Ligue 1 is at the level of the Bundesliga. Only Italy (7) does better. Above all, the French championship is doing much better than the Premier League () and La Liga (21!). Who said the grass was greener elsewhere?

The uninhibited game of Strasbourg, Rennes, Montpellier and Lens

In this spectacular Ligue 1, three teams are particularly successful. Strasbourg, Rennes (33 goals each), Montpellier and Lens (33 achievements for both) are, behind PSG, the three best attacks

These teams, however not the best endowed financially, illustrate the offensive turn taken by Ligue 1. Metamorphosed by the arrival of Julien Stéphan on his bench , Strasbourg cardboard. The Ajorque-Diallo duo flambé (17 goals between them), and Racing, close to relegation and often criticized for its defensive play the year past, is at the gates of European squares.

The Rennais, here during their large victory against Lyon (4-1), have the 2nd attack in Ligue 1. (SAMEER AL-DOUMY / AFP)

It is even more convincing for Lens, which confirms the promises made last season. Carried by a hot public and a very offensive 3-4-2-1, the Sang et Or impress. Despite a worse blow in December , the Artesiens of Franck Haise, 9th, clearly aim Europe.

We thought the MHSC was helpless after the departure of its fireworks Delort and Laborde at the end of August. But with the arrival of trainer Olivier Dall’Oglio, resolutely focused on the offensive, the Héraultais have largely filled these departures. The Englishman Stephy Mavididi (6 goals) took over, and it’s all Montpellier, 5th at the break, who dreams out loud.

In Rennes, the attractive game advocated by Bruno Génésio works wonderfully. The Bretons remained undefeated for two months in the heart of autumn and occupy 4th place in the ranking. The recruits Laborde (9 goals), Sulemana, Majer or Santamaria are perfectly integrated in the red and black collective. With them, Rennes has something to see coming, including on the European scene .

Attacking midfielders carry their teams brilliantly

The “League of Talents” definitely lives up to its name. The start of the season has confirmed a trend: Ligue 1 is full of decisive players, creative attacking midfielders who, with a bright pass, a dribble from elsewhere or a surgical strike, can unlock the fate of a match. The Montpellier Téji Savanier, by his influence on his team (5 goals, 5 assists) as by his individual technique, is probably the most convincing example.

3 – Téji Savanier a scored 3 direct free-kick goals with Montpellier in Ligue 1 this season, more than any other player in the 5 major European leagues in 2020 / 22. Artist. # MHSCSCO

– OptaJean (@OptaJean) December 21, 2208118 Despite a drop in speed in December and a disappointing OL, Lucas Paquetá shone . The same can at least be said of Seko Fofana (Lens), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Lovro Majer (Rennes), Romain Faivre (Brest) or Ludovic Blas (Nantes). This list, anything but exhaustive, gives pride of place to many clubs. And proves, if necessary, that talent is not only concentrated in the big teams.

PSG, a pale leader with no real competition

Just reading the standings, one might think that Paris Saint-Germain, leader with 11 points ahead of Nice, crushes the League 1. This is partly true, but one cannot help but experience an ounce of disappointment with regard to the Parisian services . Too often ( Lyon , Metz , Angers , Lille , Nantes , Lens or Lorient ), PSG came out with great success, without really mastering the meeting. Not very decisive (a goal) and without real control over his teammates, Lionel Messi symbolizes, despite himself, these stammering Parisians. A year after his appointment, Mauricio Pochettino is struggling to establish his paw.

– Paris suffered 11 shots in the first period against Lorient, equaling his record in Ligue 1 this season already established in Lens on December 4 and against Clermont the 11 September. Vulnerable. # FCLPSG GbiUQbkLCQ

– OptaJean (@OptaJean) December 22, 2021 Paradoxically, this bland PSG but carried by a radiant Mbappé dominates the championship without sharing. The fault, too, with a non-existent competition. Ambitious at the start of the season, Lyon , Marseille, Monaco and Lille trample. If their chronic irregularity gives rise to an exciting race for the places of honor, the fight for the title has already been sealed for a long time.

Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne, the historic ones at picks it up

No, Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux did not expect to play for the title. But after a narrowly acquired hold last year, supporters of both camps were hoping for a quieter season. Alas, Greens and Girondins, sixteen championship titles between them, are once again embarked on a difficult season.

Red lantern with 11 points, ASSE separated in early December from his trainer Claude Puel . His successor Pascal Dupraz missed his debut against Nantes (0-1) on Wednesday, and the young Saint-Etienne squad does not leave him much leeway. Despite a lot of internal turmoil this summer (change of ownership, of trainer and remodeled workforce), Bordeaux, 17 e with 16 points, won only three times and has never kept his clean sheet.

The Girondins, here Ricardo Mangas and Mbaye Niang against Lyon, totally missed their first part of the season. (ROMAIN PERROCHEAU / AFP)

With extremely porous tusks (33 and 43 goals conceded, highest total in the championship), the offensive assets of Saint-Etienne (Khazri, 7 goals) and Bordeaux (Elis, 7 goals) may not be enough. The salvation could come … from the competition, since Lorient or Metz have so many deficiencies.

Incidents in the stadiums

The football world was delighted to rediscover frenzied atmospheres, after eighteen months in camera or extremely reduced gauges. Okay, many forums have, fortunately, offered a superb show mixing tifos and songs. But how can I forget the many incidents, too repetitive , which tarnished the image of Ligue 1?

AT Montpellier , Nice , Lens , Angers , Saint Etienne, Marseille and Lyon , land invasions or jets of projectiles interfered with the conduct of meetings. The collective sanctions (partial or total behind closed doors) imposed by the League have not calmed the ardor of the minority of troublemakers. The measures announced by the government on Thursday 13 December will they prevent further incidents? The return weeks will be closely scrutinized.