Paris Saint-Germain cling to top spot as rivals close in
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
PSG expects to find consolation for the midweek defeat against Evian.Following Paris Saint-Germain’s shock defeat in midweek at Evian and a milestone week for Ligue 1 goalkeepers, the race in France is wide open with three games remaining until the winter break.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc suffered his first defeat in charge since replacing current Real Madrid handler Carlo Ancelotti, and it was the capital club’s first defeat in 36 matches, one short of the team record.
The unexpected setback has allowed Lille to close within one point and Monaco two, after both clubs picked up wins over Marseille and Nice respectively, heading into the weekend’s action.
It was also a notable week for veteran goalkeepers Mickael Landreau of Bastia and Lille’s Vincent Enyeama.
Landreau, who began his incredible career between the sticks for Nantes in 1996 at just 17, set a new mark for top flight appearances in midweek when he raised the bar to 603, one better than former Monaco custodian Jean-Luc Ettori who set the previous record between 1975 and 1992.
Nigeria’s African champion Enyeama was also very much the talk of the league when he extended his number of minutes without conceding a goal to 1035 with a match-winning performance against Marseille. He is now within 141 minutes of the Ligue 1 all-time record of 1176 minutes unbeaten, held by Gaetan Huard and set in 1993. “In the dressing room, it was incredible, everyone congratulated me,” confessed Enyeama following the 1-0 win and passing the mythical 1000 minute mark. “Above all, I am just very proud to be here and be a part of this team,” he added.
Landreau equalled Lettori’s mark Dec. 1 with a clean sheet during Bastia’s 2-0 win over Evian before breaking the record against Corsican neighbours Ajaccio in a 1-1 draw on Dec. 4.
Ettori, 58, was diplomatic after losing his long standing record. “It is not just an anecdote and created a buzz,” he said in reference to his mark.
“Six hundred and three matches is not insignificant, it’s huge in fact and I’m happy for Mickael,” said Ettori.
“I played 750 matches for the same club (all competitions) and that is a record that is going to last, in fact I think it will never be broken,” he added. At PSG, Blanc’s men have a chance to bounce back with what appears to be a home banker against rock bottom Sochaux on Dec. 7 while Monaco host equally struggling Ajaccio and Lille travel to in-form Bordeaux.
Nantes have positioned themselves just one point behind fourth placed Marseille and the two teams met Dec. 6 clash at the Velodrome, with Elie Baup’s position as OM coach potentially on the line.
League Cup holders Saint-Etienne, were beaten by Rennes in midweek, and await the buoyant Evian side after their best win of the season over PSG. Lorient and Rennes meet in Brittany, Reims and Nice will do battle in the Champagne-region and Valenciennes are at home to Guingamp on Dec. 7.
Struggling 2012 champions Montpellier will have a caretaker coach for the trip to Toulouse in the remaining match after coach Jean Fernandez resigned on Dec. 5.