#FFWTOTW Bastia’s Maboulou excels under new Makelele role

Maboulou Bastia

Maboulou Bastia

As Matt LeBlanc found out in his pre-Friends days, the best things come to those who wait. And after a seemingly interminable 83 days, with pretty much only meaningless football played in between, Ligue 1 has come back with a vengeance, a fantastic, goal-laden weekend’s football opening the new campaign.

Two-time reigning champions PSG opened proceedings on Friday evening at Reims, threatening to run riot in the first 20 minutes but ending up having to fight back for a 2-2 draw (Reims’ Aïssa Mandi making up for two own goals last time the sides met with two goal-line clearances this time round). A Beautiful start for new Reims coach and James Blunt lookalike Jean-Luc Vasseur. Slightly ominous for the rest that Zlatan could afford to miss a sitter, miss a penalty (after diving to win it), horribly slice an easy cross, and yet still end up with a brace. As for Cavani and Thiago Silva, both were on the pitch but their footballing abilities are still on their summer holidays…

An impressive five more players matched Ibra in scoring doubles in a great night’s football on Saturday. Two of them came in arguably the most anticipated of the weekend’s matches – Marcelo Bielsa’s first as Marseille coach. The match lived up to the hype as Bastia, led by Claude Makelele for the first time, came back from two down to grab a 3-3 draw. Props to Bastia’s Christopher Maboulou and Marseille’s André-Pierre Gignac for their braces. Work to do for Bielsa but Marseille are already showing that they’re going to be fun to watch this year.

Nice fans were fearing the worst for the season – with good reason, it seemed, after conceding two goals in the final two minutes of the first half. However, they fought back to beat Toulouse 3-2, Dario Cvitanich looking back to his 2012/13 form in hitting two. Newly-promoted Caen are the early table-toppers (as well as winners of best kit of the season with their away shirt), Mathieu Duhamel scoring two as they impressively smashed Evian 3-0 away from home. And Mevlut Erding scored both goals (including another soft penalty) as Saint-Etienne came away from Coupe de France holders Guingamp with a 2-0 win.

In the Transfer-Embargico, Nantes beat Lens 1-0, the goal coming from former PSG shirt-seller Yacine Bammou, who took 32 seconds to score more goals for Nantes than Itay Shechter has managed in his career thus far. Also 1-0 winners were Willy Sagnol’s Bordeaux, who impressed in taking three points home from Montpellier. In the weekend’s only goalless match, Ligue 2 champions Metz bravely held off Lille to come away from the Nord with a point (arguably the highlight of the match was the referee usefully spraying the free kick spray along the 18-yard line!).

Come Sunday, Hubert Fournier got off to a winning start as Lyon played some lovely stuff in beating Rennes 2-0 (the second a dodgy penalty after the referee had denied both teams a valid penalty each). And the biggest surprise of the weekend was saved for last, as Lorient began their post-Gourcuff era in style, Sylvain Ripoll leading his team to an impressive 2-1 win over Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco – the Monégasques’ first home defeat of 2014.

This week’s player of the week, for marking his debut with two well-taken goals as well as winning a (-nother soft) penalty, is Bastia’s Christopher Maboulou. Joining him in our équipe type are:

2014 - Journee 1

On to our first Goals of the Week of the season. Maboulou’s first is a contender, but doesn’t make it because, as fantastic a shot as it was, Mandanda really should have saved it. And Duhamel’s second, a powerful header to meet an excellent Florian Raspentino cross, was a goal to make any centre-forward proud. But our top three is as follows:

In third is Steeeeeeeed Malbranque’s goal for Lyon. An excellent pass from the brilliant Jordan Ferri unlocked Rennes’ defensive line, Malbranque collected, tricked inside Mexer and curled a low shot inside the far post and beyond Costil.

Second place goes to Reims’ Antoine Devaux. Collecting the ball on the right wing, he bullied his way past Pastore, cut inside, passed down the line to Charbonnier and then continued his run to slot the return pass past Sirigu. OK, helped by statuesque defending but, still… the best long-distance 1-2 since Socrates-Zico-Socrates in 1982?

Goal of the Week goes to Cvitanich for his Nice opener. A clever cut-back from Grégoire Puel (surely dad Claude’s insistence on playing him in defence amounts to child abuse!) took out five defenders, and Super-Dario met it with a fantastic first time shot which curled past Boucher into the top corner.

Tune in next week for Matchday 2, which begins with early leaders Caen welcoming Lille, and sees Makelele returning to PSG with Bastia, Sagnol’s Bordeaux hosting his former club Monaco, and Marseille welcoming Montpellier to the Velodrome – no, Mosson – no the Velodrome.

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