Ligue 1

Lyon in seventh heaven as Les Gones hold off Bordeaux - Ligue 1 in 2007/08

 
3:01pm on Sunday 5th April 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

There was no change at the top as Alain Perrin’s Lyon side continued their utter dominance of the French championship with their seventh league title in a row, holding off a resurgent Bordeaux side who ultimately finished four points adrift.

Lyon, who also won the Coupe de France to mark an impressive double, were powered by the goals of Karim Benzema, whose season total of 20 was enough to claim the top scorer award.

At the other end, Paris Saint-Germain avoided relegation, but picked up a European spot by virtue of their Coupe de la Ligue victory whilst surprise package AS Nancy Lorraine were pipped to the Champions League by Marseille.

Two of French football’s most frenzied fanbases - RC Lens and RC Strasbourg suffered relegation.

CHANGES

It was one of the most talked about transfer windows in France for a while. A cycle had come to an end for all-conquering Lyon, who saw several key players depart for pastures new. Eric Abidal left for FC Barcelona, while France international Florent Malouda left for Chelsea. Sylvain Wiltord moved to Rennes, with Tiago also swapping Stade Gerland for Juventus. In came Mathieu Bodmer, Kader Keita and World Cup winner Fabio Grosso.

Marseille also saw a key player depart. Franck Ribery, who starred in last year’s World Cup was sold to Bayern Munich for a Bundesliga record 26 million euros. OM strengthened considerably with that windfall, signing no less than 7 players - led by Djibril Cisse and a then-unknown Steve Mandanda.

Nancy did not sign one player in the summer window - with their existing crop of players going on to claim a spot in the UEFA Cup the following summer.

In the dugouts, Bordeaux offered a first chance in management to Laurent Blanc, while seven others changed managers in the close season.

SEASON SUMMARY

The season had largely followed the template of recent years - i.e. a couple of pretenders exchanging the lead of the championship for a few weeks, before Lyon settled into their rhythm towards the end of the autumn and go on to sweep past all before them. There were no serious challengers to Lyon’s throne, despite Bordeaux keeping the pace under an impressive seasonal debut from Laurent Blanc.

It was tiny Le Mans who occupied the top spot after a strong early start to the campaign, before they were usurped by Nancy - who despite having only the 8th smallest budget in the championship, managed to hold on to the summit for an impressive five weeks. Nevertheless, it was Lyon who regained the lead from the 10th week, and held it through to the end - despite failing to win 14 of their 38 games. Their home form was enough to seal the championship, suffering just one defeat - to Marseille - at Stade Gerland.

Elsewhere in Ligue 1, there was a dearth of interesting races, as French football grew weary of a one-sided championship. There was a tight race for qualification to the UEFA Cup, with just six points separating Saint-Etienne in 5th and Lorient in 10th.

Caen, in their return to the top division performed strongly to finish 11th, ahead of typical top division stalwarts in Paris, Monaco and Auxerre. Meanwhile, there was a veritable Champions League play-off at Stade Velodrome on the final day, as OM held their nerve to beat Strasbourg 4-3 in a dramatic match to qualify for the premier European competition in Samir Nasri’s last game.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

Karim Benzema

The young forward enjoyed a dazzling season, with his goals and link-up in a powerful front three delivering the title with ease for Lyon.

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

Laurent Blanc

The former Manchester United defender enjoyed a great first season at Stade Chaban Delmas as Bordeaux qualified for the Champions League group stages, finishing 2nd.

YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON

Hatem Ben Arfa

The silky winger was rewarded for his consistent performances throughout the season in this all-conquering OL side.

TOP GOALSCORER

Karim Benzema

The Lyon forward scored 20 goals, ahead of OM double act Mamadou Niang and Djibril Cisse to claim the award.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

MANDANDA; BONNART, PUYGRENIER, HILTON, TAIWO; TOULALAN, CHEYROU, VALBUENA, WENDEL; BENZEMA, NIANG.

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Kader Keita

Lille to Lyon

€16.8M

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Lyon 4-2 Bordeaux

In a keenly fought encounter, Lyon defeated Bordeaux with just ten games to go to all but eliminate their nearest challenger. Despite slipping in four times in the next 10 games, this victory made it possible that they would not be caught.

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