It’s the Adam and Erics 2022! The complete revision of the Ligue 1 season | Ligue 1

Match of the season: Marseille 2-3 Lens

Competition is tough for this award after exciting and competitive Ligue 1 a season that left everything but the title to be decided on the final day. An average of 2.81 goals was scored per game, the most for more than 30 years. Lyon were involved in some of the most entertaining games of the season: they were conditioned by two of Rennes’ most convincing and fluid team displays, losing 4-1 and 4-2; and they were on the wrong side of two memorable comebacks – from Nico, who overturned a two-goal lead to win 3-2 – and from promoted Clermont, who scored twice late to force a 3-3 draw. PSG’s misadventures were also memorable. Alban Lafont became the first goalkeeper to be awarded a 10/10 by L’Équipe since 1997 after his masterful display in Nantes’ 3-1 win over PSG. And PSG’s 3-0 defeat at Monaco signaled a revival led by new coach Philippe Clement. However, few football theaters can match the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille for atmosphere and it was there that Lens edged a breathless match 3-2 in September aided by a runaway train of performance by midfielder Seko Fofana. AW

Lens party at the Stade Vélodrome.
Lens party at the Stade Vélodrome. Photo: Christophe Simon / AFP / Getty Images

Goal of the season: Wahbi Khazri v Metz

Taking the ball on the turn inside his own penalty area, the Tunisian mercurial stepped up and, seeing Alexandre Oukidja outside his line, he let fly with an effort that left the Metz goalkeeper helpless, the ball nesting in the net. Wahbi Khazri could not save St-Étienne of relegation but he provided a lot of entertainment during the season. ED

Salvation of the season: Anthony Mandrea v Nantes

After record signing Paul Bernardoni was surprisingly loaned to St-Étienne and his substitute Daniel Petkovic failed to impress, Anthony Mandrea became Angers’ third-choice goalkeeper of the season. His short stint was probably over after the arrival of Yahia Fofana from Le Havre, but Mandrea’s ridiculous stop at Nantes will be remembered for a long time. Quintin Merlin’s skillfully delivered dipped cross pushed Mandreao out of position as he left his line into no country. It looked like Ludovic Blas would be able to lead the ball into the now unguarded two-thirds of Angers’ goal. However, at an almost direct distance and despite Blas tying with the ball at some speed, Mandrea managed to recover and jump back across his goal to direct Blas’ head with his left fist at full stretch. AW

Player of the Season: Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappé dominated the Ligue 1 season on multiple levels. As comfortably the most outstanding player in the league, the 23-year-old managed 39 goals and 26 assists in 46 games across all competitions, the most goal-scoring contributions by any player in Europe’s top five leagues. With 28 goals and 19 assists in the league – many of which secured late, undeserved points for PSG – he was the first player to top both the goals and assists charts in Ligue 1 season. Numbers aside, he also showed new maturity and authority to go with his typical explosiveness. His decision to sign a new three-year contract, which seemed almost impossible before Christmas, was a major victory for Ligue 1 and could signal a change in balance between the European leagues chasing the Premier League. Mbappé’s future was the main news story for much of the season but he handled the relentless questions with the same calmness and maturity he showed on the pitch. AW

Kylian Mbappé dominated the season.
Kylian Mbappé dominated the season. Photo: Patrick Hertzog / AFP / Getty Images

Young player of the season: William Saliba

William Saliba, a longtime favorite of Arsenal fans (if not Mikel Arteta) was a well-known amount in Ligue 1, breaking through at St-Étienne before turning in a decent period loan at Nice. Injuries and the form of other players have kept Saliba out of the Arsenal team, but he was the first name on the team leaf at Marseille this season, playing the full 90 minutes in each league match bar two. His speed of recovery, ability in the gear and unnatural calm on the ball made him a model of consistency throughout the season, no bad feat for a defender who has just turned 21. A first call for France was just a reward for his season. His future may be in doubt, but there is no doubt about his talent. ED

Biggest flash point: Nice v Marseille

Dimitri Payet after being hit by a bottle.
Dimitri Payet after being hit by a bottle. Photo: Benoît Tessier / Reuters

Dimitri Payet was at the center of the two major flash points of the season. Lyon (who were also expelled from the cup following fan violence) were subtracted a point after the Marseille striker was shot down by a bullet fired by the crowd in November. That match was abandoned, just as the trip from Marseille to Nice was a few months earlier – apart from this time a mass brawl involving Nice fans, both teams and both benches resulted in the middle. After Payet threw the offensive bottle back into the crowd, Nice supporters poured over barriers to face players. The chaos lasted until well into the night with multiple flares between the teams, Marseille refused to restart and Nice briefly restarted the game alone. Amid a pile of fines and bans, the Marseille coach was banned for the rest of the season after disarming a Nice fan to the ground, leaving him in need of treatment. A humanitarian problem remains a constant concern in Ligue 1, as we saw at the end of the season when St-Étienne fans threw a bombardment of flares at their own players for their relegation was confirmed. AW

Manager of the season: Antoine Kombouaré, Nantes

Antoine Kombouaré led Nantes to a top-half finish and the Coupe de France this season. With a thin squad and several players draining their contracts, Kombouaré improved players young and old alike, and tactically put his booth in good fashion, making Nanton. both hard to break and ruin on the counter. His work will not be easy next season, with Randal Kolo Muani already gone, but for Kombouaré to achieve this at a club as anxious as Nantes is something really special. ED

Moment of the season: Predrag Rajković meets Lionel Messi

PSG’s early season win over Reims was as routine as one would expect. Kylian Mbappé scored twice to seal a simple 2-0 win on the road. However, it generated a lot of excitement, as Lionel Messi made his Ligue 1 debut, playing the last 24 minutes of the bench. Reims goalkeeper Predrag Rajković took the opportunity to ask Messi to pose with his young son on the pitch. Like Rajković, we all still did not believe that Messi was actually on the field in France, and wanted to enjoy the moment, as well as the added visibility that his arrival brought to the league. ED

Reims goalkeeper Predrag Rajković asks Lionel Messi to hold his child for a photo.
Reims goalkeeper Predrag Rajković asks Lionel Messi to hold his child for a photo. Photo: Dave Winter / Shutterstock

Signature of the season: Gaëtan Laborde, Rennes

With just one goal since mid-March, Gaëtan Laborde slowed towards the end of the season, but he gave Rennes much-needed focus in attack. For much of the season, his hard work and presence of air made Bruno Génésio’s methods come true. The 28-year-old has an outside chance from a call-up from France. ED

Failure of the season: Georginio Wijnaldum

It may seem strange to choose a player who arrived with a free transfer as the failure of the season, but Georginio Wijnaldum arrived with excellent genealogy and experience, yet only made 18 starts in PSG midfield, which is without excellence other than Marco Verratti. With the World Cup approaching, he can benefit from a loan move. Honorable mentions are to the reverse youth movement of Lyon; neither Xherdan Shaqiri nor Jérôme Boateng had much (positive) impact this season, even if the Swiss did contribute to what appeared to be a vital win against Marseille behind closed doors. ED

Shock of the season: relegation

Although Bordeaux and St-Étienne has been in decline for some time, and both narrowly avoided the fall at times, the notion that both would be eliminated in the same season still seems unthinkable. Bordeaux, the champions as recently as 2009, finished bottom of the table and conceded a whopping 91 goals in their 38 games, most in Europe’s top five leagues. Replacing former Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic for defensive mind David Guion in February did little to help. St-Étienne’s manager switch, firing Claude Puel for Pascal Dupraz, seemed to have saved them at one stage. However, after a late season setback they eventually lost the relegation final on penalties to Auxerre. Both clubs have had squads good enough for mid-table but their themes are much deeper. Constantly protesting fans, unprecedented transfer policies and severe financial concerns suggest that both need major revisions. With Ligue 1 cut to 18 teams, they may have been gone for a while. AW

Problem in St-Étienne after their relegation.
Problem in St-Étienne after their relegation. Photo: Jean-Philippe Ksiazek / AFP / Getty Images

Team of the season

Beginning XI: Anthony Lopes; Jonathan Clauss, William Saliba, Nayef Aguerd, Nuno Mendes; Aurélien Tchouaméni, Séko Fofana; Benjamin Bourigeaud, Téji Savanier, Kylian Mbappé; Wissam Ben Yedder. Substitutes: Walter Benítez; Andrei Girotto, Jean-Clair Todibo, Marco Verratti, Lovro Majer, Dimitri Payet, Martin Terrier.

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