Friday, 4 May 2012

PSG (and Lille) turn up the heat in the title race

Much like this year's Apprentice, the Ligue 1 title race is too close to call.

In the case of Alan Sugar's reality show, this is because there are no stand-out candidates among his latest batch of wannabes and never-have-beens. In France's top flight there are three hopefuls, all worthy in their own ways: Montpellier, the plucky upstarts, Lille, the established favourites, and Paris St-Germain, the talented, nouveau-rich, pantomime villains.

PSG's comfortable 2-0 win over St Etienne on Wednesday night moved them to within three points of leaders Montpellier, while Lille were also victorious in Nice and sit a further two points back.

For perhaps the first time this season, the pressure is on MHSC to deliver, and with three games to go a few cracks are starting to appear at the Mosson. In a scene worthy of one of the many squabbles which take place in Sugar's board-room, Younes Belhanda yesterday had a go at Olivier Giroud for not stepping up to take the injury-time penalty which would've given Montpellier a 3-2 win over Evian. Souleymane Camara took it instead, and missed.

Belhanda, who had been sent off just before the spot-kick was taken, told L'Equipe: "I thought Giroud would take the ball as it was his turn to take a penalty... It was up to Giroud to assume his responsibilities!"

An apology emerged a few hours later, along with some angry words from Girard, who must be becoming a top manager as he's starting to get paranoid:

"This shit is not our doing," he said. "There was a problem in the match against Evian. It's (the media's) job to be honest and say who's responsible for the shit.

"I read L'Equipe this morning. There's a whole paragraph saying that Belhanda clashed with Mongongu and two lines saying that Mongongu hit Belhanda twice. I don't understand.

"There are more interesting things to see at Montpellier, or maybe it shows that people don't like the club. We don't need that. We want to work in peace. I've read everything except the truth."

It's completely understandable if tensions are beginning to creep into the Montpellier squad. Most of them haven't been in this position before, and experience can be vital in the closing stages of the season. You'd still make them favourites, but I'm also concerned about Lille, who do know what they're doing and of course go to Montpellier next weekend.

For PSG, next up are Valenciennes, and they go into the match in good spirits after goals from Nene (pen) and Pastore, his third in successive games, helped see off ASSE at the Parc.

Jezza Menezza was back in the side after missing the Lille game through injury, and earned praise from visiting coach Christophe Galtier, who described him as one of the best players in Ligue 1.

"The feeling is that we are still in the race, especially as we have played some beautiful football," said Menez after the match, perhaps getting slightly carried away.

"We will try and do the same in the three games we have left to play."


dominic said...

I'm convinced that three wins will win us the title.

MHSC are going to slip up.

dominic said...

Ha. How simple I make it sound!

What I mean is that it is (or will be) in our hands.

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