Ligue 1 returned to action with a bang at the weekend as 33 goals were scored across the ten games. In amongst these goal frenzies, there are already some interesting stories coming out from the newly promoted teams, new managers and new players so we’ve collated the main ones here to keep you up to date.
Marseille March On With Kamara Leading The Way
Marseille and Toulouse had the honour of kicking off the 2018/19 season at the Stade Vélodrome, but the Olympians were clearly the more prepared side as they ran out 4-0 winners on the opening night in front of 60,000 fans. Marseille closed out last season with eight games unbeaten in Ligue 1 and despite only bringing in one player over the summer, they seem to have kept their fantastic team cohesion and pace.
Every player looked right up for it with real plaudits going for the goalscorers but also centre-back Boubacar Kamara who was only making his seventh league appearance for the club. The eighteen-year-old was only fleetingly involved last year but with Marseille usual defensive partnership of Adil Rami and Rolando now having a combined age of 64, it’s about time that a new talent jumped on to the scene at the Vélodrome. Kamara made the most passes in the game, had an 89% pass accuracy, made four tackles, two interceptions and won two aerial duels in a dominating appearance against Toulouse who were fielding some tricky attacking talent. Not to mention, Kamara’s defensive partner was midfielder Luiz Gustavo filling in at centre-back, so the young Frenchman acted as the leader of that back four despite being only 18.
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Marseille have also signed the extremely promising young defender Duje Caleta-Car from RB Salzburg who made 28 appearances in the Austrian Bundesliga last season. This adds to the extremely exciting squad that the Olympians possess with them potentially being able to field a strong starting eleven with seven players 24 or younger; a fantastic prospect for Marseille fans.
What Second Season Syndrome?
Strasbourg probably thought they had a really difficult task on their hand when faced with Bordeaux on the opening day of the season. The Girondins have been stalwarts of Ligue 1 for the last 26 years and have looked impressive in their Europa League Qualifiers so far, but Strasbourg really took the game to them in this match and came away with a fantastic 2-0 win.
Bordeaux defender Pablo Castro suffered a red card thirteen minutes into the match after Benoit Costil played a risky pass to the Brazilian, giving Ludovic Ajorque a one-on-one opportunity and Castro no choice but to take down the big Frenchman. Ajorque is a really interesting signing as with Strasbourg facing a tricky second season in Ligue 1, manager Thierry Laurey has signed the epitome of a “plan-B.” Six-foot-six inches tall and 31 career goals at the age of 24, Ajorque will be the one acting as a battering ram against the Ligue 1 defenders this season. The tall striker had to come off after half an hour with a shoulder injury, but he definitely caused a few problems in his short stint on the pitch and it will be interesting to see how certain centre-backs cope with him this year; he can already cross Pablo Castro off his hit list.
Strasbourg did look very impressive all over the pitch with their defenders keeping a clean sheet, Kenny Lala was particularly good, and some of the team’s attacking play was phenomenal. Their two goals were actually quite different with Ibrahima Sissoko getting the first through a near post volley during a corner but the second was pure art. Jonas Martin made half of the eight rapid passes in the build-up to what was a beautiful team goal working from a throw in. If the Alsatians keep this up then they could be quite the team this season, one that even the best defences will have to keep an eye on.
Not Just Here To Make Up The Numbers
Reims and Nîmes are the new kids on the block since getting promoted from Ligue 2 last season, but they have made sure to make a name for themselves as both teams got a win on matchday one.
Reims travelled to the Allianz Riviera in what seemed a difficult match, but Stade made it difficult for Patrick Vieira on his Ligue 1 managerial debut. Midfielder Moussa Doumbia wasn’t known for his goals at Rostov, but he grabbed a debut strike against les Aiglons, scoring from 22 yards after being allowed to drift inside. Reims won a record-breaking 88 points last season in Ligue 2 and look really dangerous with them crafting some good chances despite Nice having Champions League winner Dante as part of their back four. Pablo Chavarria was Reims’ main man last season with 14 league goals but was pretty much non-existent in this match and will have to pick up his form if the club want to continue their tenure in the league.
Nîmes also got a win on the opening day as they scored three times in the last fifteen minutes to come out victorious with a 4-3 win at the Stade Raymond-Kopa. It was a goal fest at Angers, so the defence will definitely be something that Nîmes manager Bernard Blaquart will look to fix but he will still be delighted that his team managed to get a win over a good Angers side away from home.
Clément Depres started the game on the bench but came on for only his eighth Nîmes appearance where he managed to score twice to win the game for the team. The club actually have some really exciting attacking talent despite being one of the new teams in the league. 21-year-old Umut Bozok got 24 goals last season during his first season at the club and if he can find a way to link up with Depres, then the duo could cause havoc in Ligue 1 this season. Nîmes should try and forget about the goals conceded and just try and take the buzz of the win into next week’s game against Marseille. This will be a real challenge but with the match at the Crocodiles’ home ground, they might just fancy another positive result to keep the good vibes flowing.
Next week’s matches see Patrick Vieira have his second competitive game in charge of Nice at Caen; he has still to sort out much of his team’s cohesion especially in offensive areas but with the signing of Myziane Maolida from Lyon, he might have just found the missing piece in his attacking puzzle. Boubacar Kamara will be looking for a second consecutive start as Marseille travel to Nîmes and the champions travel to north-west France to face Guinamp who narrowly lost their opening day fixture to Saint-Étienne.
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