Le Weekend Qui Foot: Mbappe already the difference-maker

Ligue 1, week two, started with the excellent news that BT Sport have signed up for another three years, meaning that we’ll be able to watch French football on a full screen rather than a betting –site postage-stamp sized screen. Unfortunately the goal tally wasn’t quite as high as last week’s 33, but still a lot of quality matches and finishes.

In Short

Before the start of the season you’d have been hard pushed to find anyone predicting that the top four come the end of the season would be made up of anyone other than PSG, Lyon, Marseille and Monaco, the only question being the order (for places two to four anyway…). That being said, such is the unpredictability and depth of talent in the league, no one was expecting them all to have things their own way.

This week was one of those weeks. All four teams had very poor first halves, with PSG, Lyon and Marseille all going in at the break one goal down and Monaco the poorer of the two teams at 0-0 against Lille.

Lyon, who had fallen behind to a Pablo Chavarria goal at newly-promoted Reims, reacted reasonably well in the second half and pushed the Remois far more, but were rarely able to keep them under sustained pressure, with their mercurial attack having an off-day, and Reims held on for their second straight impressive win.

Monaco improved slightly after the break but still did not show enough to break down a resolute Lille defence. They should however have won the points as a VAR review helped Monaco win a penalty. Falcao vs Mike Maignan – who saved a penalty with his first touch in professional football, and repeated the feat a week later. He can now add Falcao to his list of victims, a poor spot kick meaning that the points were shared.

Marseille did react to another Ligue 1 newcomer, Nimes, taking the lead, Denis Bouanga capitalising on Hiroki Sakai hesitancy. A lightning break early in the second half ended with world champion Florian Thauvin chipping in brilliantly for an OM equaliser. But a fantastically attacking-minded Nimes team kept pushing, scored an excellent breakaway goal of their own through Sada Thioub, before Renaud Ripart sealed a deserved win for the Crocodiles with the third.

Which leaves PSG. Outplayed in the first half by Guingamp, they were relatively lucky to go in 1-0 down, Nolan Roux scoring just after having another shot brilliantly pushed onto the bar by Gianluigi Buffon, before Nicolas Benezet had another goal disallowed, after a long VAR delay, for a push.

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Unlike their three rivals, however, PSG could call upon a pretty good second half substitute, by the name of Kylian Mbappe, for his first appearance of the season. Within 10 minutes, the 19-year-old world champion had played a part in PSG’s equaliser, setting the until-then-anonymous Neymar free, the Brazilian being brought down and then putting away the penalty. Then – after Guingamp were denied what looked a stonewall penalty for a Thomas Meunier push – Mbappe scored a double – the second a brilliant acceleration and dinked finish – to seal a flattering 3-1 win.

Many within PSG have been at pains to maintain that Neymar remains the main man at PSG. But this weekend suggested that Mbappe is continuing his ascent to being the real superstar draw, at PSG, in Ligue 1 and in world football.

In other games

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  • A sigh of relief for Patrick Vieira, who looked headed for a second straight defeat and scoreless performance as Nice trailed at Caen. However, 19-year-old substitute striker Ignatius Ganago popped up with an excellent late header to give Vieira his first point as a Ligue 1 boss.
  • Alongside PSG and the two promoted clubs on two wins out of two are Dijon, who followed up last week’s late win over Montpellier with a 2-0 win over Nantes. Both goals came from Cape Verde international Julio Tavares. The underrated striker, Dijon’s top scorer last season, now leads the Ligue 1 scoring charts with three goals in two matches – out-of-this-world form! In fact, you could say that heaven must be missing an angel!
  • Toulouse vs Bordeaux was also going to be an intriguing match, it being a local derby and, this time round, between two teams coming off the back of poor first week defeats. This match was given extra edge by Gus Poyet’s suspension as Bordeaux coach last Friday, after publicly slating his bosses for allegedly transferring a striker without his knowledge. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Toulouse came out on top, although the Girondins gave a very good account of themselves in the circumstances. Toulouse’s first goal, by the way, was a cracker scored by Michy Batshuayi’s brother, Aaron Leya Iseka.
  • Toulouse’s winner (after his horrific miss in the first half) was scored by new signing Matthieu Dossevi. He was one of three scorers this weekend (Roux was one of the others) who were playing for Metz last weekend, while another weekend scorer, Ismaila Sarr, was with the Messins the year before. It is mystifying to Metz fans (I should know – I’m one) how we managed to be just so dire last season!

Goal of the Weekend

It could easily have gone to Leya Iseka, Sarr or Thauvin. But this week’s winner is the fourth of those ex-Metz scorers, Florent Mollet, for this scorcher for Montpellier vs Amiens.

 

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