Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Winners and losers

"I could definitely be better than Hazard if I wanted to"
As Manchester-based football fans will confirm, four minutes is a long time in football.

Paris St-Germain's already faint title hopes were almost extinguished in the fourth minute of stoppage time at the Stade Mosson on Sunday night. With the score at 0-0 between Montpellier and Lille, Olivier Giroud latched onto a long ball over the top, and showed great presence of mind to square for Karim Aït-Fana to tap in the winner for MHSC.

"One more point and then a tit-wank" declared Montpellier's out-spoken president Louis Nicollin, a man who can be relied on to provide an appropriate summation of any given situation. In some respects the goal didn't make a massive difference: whereas at 0-0 we needed Rene Girard's men to draw their last match at Auxerre, now we need them to lose it. Either way, already-relegated AJA are going to have to pull off a massive shock if we are to take the title, and the psychological boost the goal will give Montpellier cannot be underestimated.

At the Parc-des-Princes, PSG had earlier won 3-0 against Rennes, Nene notching a hat-trick to take his tally for the season to 21, level with Giroud at the top of the Ligue 1 goalscoring charts. The Brazilian's achievement is made all the more remarkable given that he rarely turns up away from home - 18 of his 21 strikes have come at the Parc.

Last night Nene was named in the Ligue 1 team of the year, missing out on the player of the year award to the phenomenon that is Eden Hazard. He was the only Parisien in the team, and this has riled a few of our supporters, who were surprised to learn that Lyon's Hugo Lloris was preferred to Salvatore Sirigu as goalkeeper of the year.

Lloris is a fine keeper, and has been excellent on the few occasions I've seen him this season - indeed you may remember his man of the match display when Lyon knocked us out of the Coupe de France - but it seems to me this is a vote that has gone on reputation. If it weren't for Sirigu it's doubtful whether PSG would be in the running for the title right now. His performances, particularly in the first half of the season, saved countless points, and he has impressed consistently despite playing behind a defence barely worthy of the name.

It's easy to forget, too, that he is still a young man in his first season in a foreign league, and he would have been a worthy winner. Let's hope next season he has less work to do.


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