Ligue 1

Lyon win tight championship race to claim fourth title - Ligue 1 2004/05

Paul Le Guen's side continued their domination over French football with their fourth win in a row

 
1:27pm on Thursday 2nd April 2020
By
Martin Macdonald

Olympique Lyonnais picked up their fourth Ligue 1 crown on the bounce with another typically assured campaign.

Paul Le Guen’s side led the championship from October to finish on 79 points, accumulating just three defeats all season. They ended comfortably ahead of LOSC Lille, who picked up a very positive second placed finish, with Monaco the other side to complete the podium.

The real race however, in an otherwise goal-shy season (just 2.17 a game on average) was the fact that just 13 points separated Rennes in 4th, and Caen in 18th spot. The gap between Lille and Lyon for example, had been 12. That meant that there were four teams competing for direct entry into the UEFA Cup while six were battling to avoid relegation on a frantic final day.

CHANGES

French football saw significant changes in the close season, though these were largely down to transfers pouring out of the league. The big move saw Didier Drogba, author of a fantastic sole season at Marseille leave for Chelsea in a stunning 38 million euro deal. The English side, under the direction of European Cup winning boss Jose Mourinho also bought Petr Cech from Rennes, while Djibril Cisse quit AJ Auxerre for Liverpool, and he was soon followed by Philippe Mexes who was picked up by Roma.

Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze left the capital for Manchester United, and creative midfielder Ludovic Giuly and Edmilson also left France for FC Barcelona.

To counter the flood of money entering Ligue 1, PSG put their faith in Jerome Rothen and Mario Yepes for a combined 20 million, while Lyon stepped up their domination in the market to convince Eric Abidal and Pierre Alain Frau to move to the Gerland.

SEASON SUMMARY

It was a season largely shorn of quality, with more than half of the teams changing managers during the campaign - including PSG and Marseille. There were only 2.17 goals a game scored on average, as French football began to develop the image of its teams preferring to play not to lose, rather to win.

This was evidenced by not only Lyon’s continued domination at the top, but the fact that there was no middle in the league table. You were either fighting for the Champions League, UEFA Cup or to avoid relegation.

Only 13 points separated a place in the UEFA Cup and a spot in Ligue 2 the following season. As such, until Lyon took the lead of the championship after 10 weeks, there were six sides who occupied top spot. The defending champions endured a rocky, if unbeaten start to the campaign - though resumed their stride by being three points clear of Lille come Christmas.

Paul Le Guen’s side eventually taste defeat in mid-January following the winter break, but they were largely untroubled by rivals who were shorn of real quality. They later secured the title with three to spare in May.

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

Michael Essien

The Ghanaian international built a reputation as a highly competent midfield enforcer, and he was instrumental in nullifying opponents week in week out in this successful campaign..

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

Paul Le Guen

The former Parisian midfielder delivered the title again at Stade Gerland, and the fact they did it so comprehensively meant this was a no-brainer.

YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON

Jeremy Toulalan

The future France international enjoyed an impressive campaign in an otherwise average Nantes side, but was praised for his versatility in midfield

TOP GOALSCORER

Alexander Frei

The future Switzerland captain hit 20 goals in this campaign, as Rennes pipped Marseille to direct UEFA Cup entry.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

COUPET; BEYE, CRIS, GIVET, ABIDAL; ESSIEN, KALOU, MALOUDA; JUNINHO; WILTORD, FREI

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Jerome Rothen & Javier Chevanton

Monaco to PSG - Lecce to Monaco

€10M

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Lyon 2-1 Ajaccio

Goals from Claudio Cacapa and Sidney Govou saw OL see off the challenge of the stubborn Corsicans to take them over the line and celebrate a fourth title

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