Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Wed 26 August 2009

Jeu du Jour Week 3: Marseille Malaise

Of all the three main contenders for this season's Ligue 1 title, only champions Bordeaux now have a 100% record after three games following Marseille's 1-1 draw with Rennes last Saturday.

Didier Deschamps had made a great start to his new career at the Stade Vélodrome following wins over Grenoble and Lille, but Rennes are never the easiest of sides to beat - in fact the equivalent tie finished 4-4 last season.

As it was, Rennes were keen to retain their own unbeaten start to the season at home to Marseille and were the more threatening team in the opening exchanges. Guinean striker Ismael Bangoura almost picked up his second goal of the season early on when he chipped Steve Mandanda in the Marseille goal, but the crossbar intervened. The visitors were prompted to retaliate, but in truth they struggled to produce anything of note until Edouard Cisse headed over 15 minutes from the interval.

It was Rennes, however, that picked up the first goal and it came from the penalty spot after Souleymane Diawara handled the ball in his own area. Jerome Leroy converted the spot kick and Rennes started the second half 1-0 up, but Deschamps' men were soon back in the hunt when Mamadou Niang equalised after 52 minutes. Thereafter Marseille huffed and puffed, but the three points remained elusive - the result meaning they drop to fourth in the table.

Having started this season with a draw, Lyon have cleared their heads and are now ahead of Marseille on goal difference thanks to their second win of the season against an ever-faltering Auxerre. For the third match in succession, Jean Fernandez's side failed to pick up a point as Lyon moved up through the gears for what turned out to be an easy win. Jean-Alain Boumsong scored from close range on 31 minutes and before Auxerre knew where they were, Jean Makoun added a second as the first half closed.

With Auxerre forced to open up in the name of a reply, Lyon had to engage in a bitter battle but having weathered that, Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic put the game beyond doubt. A calmly taken shot from a César Delgado cross made it 3-0 and for a team that prides itself on never having been relegated from the top flight, Auxerre look ominously intent on rewriting the record books.

Bordeaux's title defence looks as solid as ever after their 4-0 walk in the park at home to Nice. After a promising start, The Eagles found themselves on a slippery slope when the wonderfully-named Jussiê scored with his head just before half-time. The second half only brought more misery when Yoann Gourcuff converted two well taken efforts, and by the time Alou Diarra added a fourth after 76 minutes, Nice were well and truly beaten.

So it's Bordeaux that top the table with nine points, Lyon second with seven, but between them and Marseille in fourth are Paris Saint-Germain who remain unbeaten after a 3-2 win against Valenciennes. It was an entertaining match by all accounts but it leaves Valenciennes without a win thus far.

Peggy Luyindula, Mevlud Erding and Christophe Jallet were the scorers for PSG and despite a second half fight-back by the home side, the team from the capital were able to celebrate their first win over their hosts in 32 years.

So far, so smug for us. We predicted last year's top three would be challenging near the top, we predicted PSG would be launching a stronger campaign to break into the top four and we suspected Valenciennes would be amongst the strugglers, but we haven't got it all right so far. New boys Boulogne are doing a Burnley thanks to a second win away to Saint Etienne and are now seventh.

Les Verts had plenty enough chances to win but failed to take any of them, unlike Alexandre Cuvillier who scored for Boulogne eight minutes before the break. Alain Perrin's position in charge of Saint-Etienne now looks somewhat tenuous following their last-gasp survival in Ligue 1 at the end of last season and their less than inspiring start to this one.

One place above Boulogne are fellow promotees and Ligue 2 champions Lens. They defeated another of our predicted relegation strugglers Grenoble 2-1 on Sunday to complete a healthy-looking table for the three promoted teams. Montpellier complete the line-up after they beat Sochaux 2-0 to rise to tenth.

Lille grabbed their first point of the season but remain in the bottom four after a 1-1 draw at home to an inconsistent Toulouse. They did at least beat Genk in the first leg of their Europa League tie last week and the second leg in France tomorrow night could be equally as interesting as Rudi Garcia's side struggle to match the standards of last season.

Elsewhere, Le Mans derailed Nancy's excellent start to the season with a 2-1 win which was credited in part to Anthony Le Tallec's decisive second goal. Le Mans now rise to 12th in the table, leapfrogging Lorient whose progress is heading in the opposite direction. They lost 2-0 to Monaco who bounced back well from their 4-0 defeat to Nancy last week to get a second win of their own.

That's all for now. Until next week, it's à bientôt. Results and tables here.

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