5 things to know about the French league
PARIS (AP) — Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim and Marseille counterpart Marcelo Bielsa don’t have much time left to adapt to the French league.
Monaco, a title contender, has zero points after two matches, while Marseille has one point.
Jardim and Bielsa had successful spells at Sporting and Athletic Bilbao, respectively, but they still have to prove themselves in France.
Both coaches are still waiting for reinforcements. In the meantime, their tactical approach will be under heavy scrutiny again.
Here are five things to know about this weekend’s games:
FROM THE TOP
Monaco’s poor results have prompted Vadim Vasilyev, the club’s vice president, to publicly support Jardim this week.
“It’s not a choice for one season. We are not going to change strategy because of two bad results,” Vasilyev said. “If we believe in our project, we will stick to our strategy. And we believe in Jardim.”
Jardim replaced Italian coach Claudio Ranieri, who led Monaco to a runner-up finish last season. Monaco visits Nantes on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain was undefeated last season until it lost 2-0 at Evian in December. That memory will keep the defending champions on their toes when they travel on Friday to the Parc des Sports d’Annecy at the foot of the Alps.
“It was very cold each time we played there,” PSG playmaker Javier Pastore said. “It’s my fourth season at PSG, and it’s the first time that we’ll go and play there in the summer. I hope that will tip the scales in our favor so that we can win.”
Willy Sagnol has quickly found the way to success in his first coaching stint at club level. Bordeaux has won its first two games and visits Nice on Saturday.
“He’s a coach who makes players feel confident,” Bordeaux defender Lamine Sane said. “He knows the words to motivate us. We believe in his method and it shows on the field.”
As a player, Sagnol won the Champions League with Bayern Munich in 2001 and was part of the France team that lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy. He coached France’s under-21 team before joining Bordeaux.
STABILITY PAYS OFF
The key to Saint-Etienne’s good start has been the stability in its squad. In the 3-1 win over Reims last weekend, 10 players in Saint-Etienne’s starting lineup were at the club last season.
“Stability is necessary and we have it,” Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier said. “Therefore we have an advantage over other clubs where there are a lot of moves.”
Saint-Etienne wound up fourth in the league last season, its best finish since 1988. It hosts Rennes on Sunday.
Marseille’s campaign has been undermined by the uncertainty about its squad and differences of opinion between Bielsa and the management.
Marseille hasn’t signed a defender while center backs Lucas Mendes and Souleymane Diawara left and the club is also trying to offload fullback Rod Fanni.
The 2010 champions will seek their first victory of the season when they face Guingamp on Saturday.
“We’ve worked a lot in the pre-season,” Marseille winger Romain Alessandrini said. “I think it should be fine in the next two or three games.”