behind PSG, a very tight championship

The Angevin Stéphane Bahoken, against Strasbourg, November 2, 2019.
The Angevin Stéphane Bahoken, against Strasbourg, November 2, 2019. JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

We had not seen it for 19 years. After twelve championship days, Angers is second in the Ligue 1 standings, behind PSG, with only 20 points: it is, for this rank of dolphin, the lowest total at this stage the competition since Bastia in 2000 .

Last year, Montpellier and Lille already had five more. A year earlier, Monaco posted 28 on the clock. With 20 points, Angers would have sailed between fifth and sixth place. A rank that would seem more appropriate for a team that has won only one of these last five games.

"This second place is anecdotal because this championship is very tight," In fact, Stephane Moulin, the Angevin coach, admitted after a win against Strasbourg (1-0) on Saturday (November 2nd).

This low total points for the second in Ligue 1 is synonymous with a very tight championship. Before the start of the thirteenth day, Friday, November 8, only nine points separated Angers second, Nimes 20th and last: a first since 1987.

Between the teams appearing on the podium and the place of barragiste (18th), there are only seven points. The least good series can revive any team: 19th after seven days, Saint-Etienne was back at the foot of the podium five games later, after four wins and a draw.

The "big" at the stop

If such a situation is possible, it is mainly because, apart from a PSG a little late on its times of passage, nobody manages to keep a rhythm "normal" in front. "In terms of numbers, teams like Monaco or Lyon would have imagined having a different league start", euphemised Julien Stéphan, the Rennes coach, before a canceled match against Nimes on 31 October.

Since his last title in 2008, Lyon had arrived, on average, at the twelfth day with 22 points. This season, OL has only sixteen, its second lowest total in eleven years, after a slow start, which led the club to separate from his coach, the Brazilian Sylvinho, after only two months on the bench .

Second in the championship 2018-2019, Lille has already garnered more than half of the losses suffered last season and again relapsed last week in Marseille. OM, like Nice, alternates the good and the bad and can not seem to follow.

In trouble for two seasons already, Monaco has solved his offensive problems with the arrival of the Slimani-Ben Yedder duo, but remains friable defensively, which plunges its beginning of the season.

Saint-Etienne is better since the arrival of Claude Puel as a coach, but the St Etienne have had a catastrophic start to the season. "The team that will have a minimum of regularity will be in front of", predicts the coach of the Greens.

The problem is that for the moment, this regularity is almost non-existent. A third of the championship, almost all teams still have trouble stringing good series, as shown on the right side of this ranking.


The "little ones" resist

In addition to the loosening of the "big" in front, behind, no one is still released. "This is the most consistent championship I've seen, ahead Olivier Dall'Oglio, the coach of Brest. Everyone can beat everyone. Reims will win in Paris and is beaten at home by Dijon, who was off the hook but came back in the race. "

Behind also, we beat record number of points. No red lantern had scored more than eight after twelve days, since the return to twenty clubs in 2002: Nimes is already eleven (with a game late).

Moreover, still since this season 2002-2003, never the trio of the red zone cumulated so many points. The only season that is close to this phenomenon is that of 2010-2011, with the 18th and 19th at thirteen points (one more than this season), but with a red lantern, Arles-Avignon, which was already far behind with only five points on the clock.

While some observers explain this homogeneity by a drop in level and quality of the championship, the coach of Angers, Stéphane Moulin, reacted strongly Friday. "I think the whole season our championship will be perceived as phony. It's a lack of respect for all the teams that work. (…) That we have the delicacy to greet the teams who are at the top of the table, but who should not be there. "

A long fight

"This championship is compact, challenging and athletically demanding, tactically hyper-responsive. No match will be easy, for anyone », Michel Der Zakarian, the coach of Montpellier in L'Equipe, October 19, to try to explain this exceptional situation.

Stéphane Moulin emitted another hypothesis to explain this compactness: "All the clubs have made a little more financial effort in view of next season with the increase in TV rights that will make Ligue 1 a little Eldorado. "

However, this situation should not last forever. Olivier Dall'Oglio and Julien Stéphan believe that several teams should find the next weeks the rank that usually lends them at the top of the table. "Lyon and Saint-Etienne will come out of this group from below, esteem the Brest coach. For now, there is no normality in the results. In my opinion, it's not going to last, we'll find the same teams down, in the middle and in front of … "

But below, the fight may last a long time. "There are a dozen, a dozen teams that are quite close to each other, and that will certainly brawl long months", predicts the Rennes coach. The soap opera continues this weekend.


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