Ligue 1: Season Round-Up

It’s done. Monaco took the title with a 2-0 win at home to Saint-Étienne in game 31 (which took place between games 37 and 38 due to their horrendous schedule from April onwards). The title-winning game was a best-of reel. Young starlet Kylian Mbappé opened the scoring, with the equally wonderful Thomas Lemar streaking up the left to put in the assist for the second from Valère Germain — who played for Monaco in Ligue 2.

So, after four straight titles, PSG got *just* a cup double – after beating Monaco 4-1 in the Coupe de la Ligue. They made it 11 Coupe de France wins in total, overtaking ahead of OM in the all-time stakes, with the season-closer against Angers. This was nowhere near as comprehensive; Angers dug in and held hard, so nearly holding out – until an injury-time own goal from Issa Cissokho, the most gutting way to lose.

Monaco’s game in hand meant the final day of Ligue 1 was largely irrelevant at the top of the table, but it was still all to play for at the bottom. Caen managed to save themselves with a surprise draw at the Parc des Princes, when of all the threatened teams on the final day, you’d have had them on nul points. Nancy and Bastia got the automatic relegation spots, and Lorient drew 1-1 against Bordeaux to give themselves a glimmer of hope, with the new play-off system pitting Ligue 1’s 18th against Ligue 2’s third.

The first leg was at Troyes, where narrative took over as 40-year-old Benjamin Nivet scored a 90th minute winner to put ESTAC in the box-seat for the second leg. That ended 0-0, despite the increasingly frantic efforts of the Lorient players and equally desperate encouragement from their supporters. After 11 seasons in the top-flight, Lorient are down – Troyes will join Strasbourg and first-timers Amiens in Ligue 1, with Amiens promoted after a 96th minute winner against Reims saw them jump from sixth to second in scenes of absolute joy.

In European competition, while the men did well to reach the semi-finals of both cups, the women were having another face-off. The Women’s Champions League final pitted PSG against Lyon, in their fourth match of the season. In the league, each had won at home (PSG inflicting OL’s only defeat of the season), and in the Coupe de France it ended 1-1, OL winning on penalties. The Parisiennes – who won’t feature in next season’s WCL after Montpellier took second spot in Division 1 – were out for revenge.

Again, there was a gutting end in a cup final; this time for PSG. They blocked, frustrated and counter-attacked for 120 gruelling minutes in Cardiff to take it to penalties. With Eugenie Le Sommer missing early, PSG had the upper hand, but young defender Onema Geyoro also missed. Sudden death ensued, and the goalkeepers stepped up – PSG’s Polish international Katarzyna Kiedrzynek sending hers well wide, before having to pull herself together to face Sarah Bouhaddi. The OL keeper didn’t miss, and confirmed a second consecutive victory (fourth in total). Kiedrzynek was inconsolable. OL motor on.

The summer is upon us; therefore, the transfer market is likely again to take key players from several Ligue 1 teams. But there are also international competitions to follow. Already over for France is the U20 World Cup (beaten 2-1 by Italy in the Round of 16) and the Toulon Tournament (the U19s failing to get out of Group B after drawing with Wales and losing to Cote d’Ivoire). But the women’s Euros kick off in July and there are high hopes for success in that.

Follow Philippa on Twitter at @Philby1976

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