April 24, 2024

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Bordeaux are bottom of Ligue 1 and only fighting among themselves | Ligue 1

6 min read
Bordeaux are bottom of Ligue 1 and only fighting among themselves | Ligue 1

When we last checked in with Bordeaux two months ago, it seemed as if things could not get any worse for the club, but somehow they have. They had just been thrashed 6-0 by Rennes and even the company that sponsored their shirts was making jokes at their expense. Bordeaux responded well to that defeat, beating Strasbourg 4-3 in a breathless game in late January, but results quickly soured again. They lost their next match 5-0 to Reims and have failed to win since.

Their match against Montpellier on Sunday seemed like a promising opportunity to right the ship. Montpellier have been wildly inconsistent this season, and with key men Mamadou Sakho and Stephy Mavididi missing, they looked vulnerable –their form has dipped badly in the new year, their charge for a European finish undone by a run of one win in six games.

Bordeaux were without forward Rémi Oudin, who was suspended, but the good news was that their veteran goalkeeper, Benoît Costil, returned after two months out injured, putting a merciful end to what had been a poor run of performances from his understudy, Gaëtan Poussin. Facing an out-of-form opponent with what was more or less their first-choice XI, this looked like an ideal time for Bordeaux to pick up some points. They were also playing at home and their supporters were well up for the match – perhaps a little too up for it, even, as flares delayed the start of the match. Bu even the fans’ passion would soon turn sour.

Montpellier took the lead in the 11th minute. Elye Wahi has been the biggest beneficiary of Mavididi’s absence and the teenager opened the scoring, tucking the ball inside the far post after holding off centre-back Stian Gregersen. Marcelo had strayed out of position for the first goal and the Brazilian, who was signed from Lyon in the winter to provide leadership, was also at fault for the second goal five minutes later, losing the ball to Téji Savanier, who set up Florent Mollet for a signature rocket finish.

Even though they were 2-0 down, Bordeaux were not out of it. Montpellier defender Nicolas Cozza was sent off late in the first half and Bordeaux were awarded a penalty, but Alberth Elis was denied by goalkeeper Jonas Omlin, spurning a wonderful chance. There was another dismissal before half-time too, Mihailo Ristić scything down Elis and leaving Montpellier to play 45 minutes with just nine men. Surely Bordeaux would pick up a badly needed home win on a weekend when Metz had been thumped, and Troyes and Saint-Étienne had drawn?

Alas, it was not to be, and the fans were quick to display their anger even before the game had finished. Costil was subject to abusive chants and whistling from the club’s ultras, with stewards having to intervene and pull them apart at half-time; the goalkeeper responded by sarcastically applauding.

The fans’ anger did little to spur their side on, an imperious Omlin keeeping a clean sheet in the Montpellier goal. But when the Bordeaux players sank to the ground in disappointment at full-time, they had been undone as much by their own ineptitude as they were the skill of Wahi, Omlin and Mollet andknew they had passed up a golden opportunity. They still have to play several relegation rivals before the end of the season but, on the evidence of this display, they do not look up to the task.

Bordeaux are bottom of Ligue 1 and only fighting among themselves | Ligue 1
Benoît Costil could leave Bordeaux after clashing with ultras. Photograph: Thibaud Moritz/AFP/Getty Images

The ugliness continued after the match, with hundreds of supporters attempting to reach the players’ parking area underneath the ground. Stewards managed to keep them at bay, but several members of the squad came out to speak. Leading supporters’ group, UB87, also upped the ante by accusing Costil and former club captain Laurent Koscielny of “scandalous, sometimes racist” behaviour.

Whether or not there is any truth to the accusation, the club has done little to support the players, with clubpresident Gérard Lopez saying merely that “Our supporters are disgusted and I understand”.

Costil is a combative and unapologetic figure, but as recently as January – when he made a mistake against Marseille that cost the team – he said he would prove his worth and “fight to the end”. He may have changed his mind. On Sunday night, the reportedly told several teammates and staff that he would not be finishing the season at the club. A friend of Costil’s later said he had reacted in the heat of the moment, but it remains to be seen whether he sticks around after the international break.

Lopez’s veiled criticism of the players may seem bizarre given that the team is in a relegation battle and he has no way of signing anyone at this stage of the season, but he has a strong relationship with the ultras and is siding with them rather than the players. Paradoxically, even as Bordeaux sink in the table, Lopez – whose dealings have played their part in the team’s current struggles – grows closer to the fan groups. He has developed unusually close connections with the UB87, who have been quick to leap to his defence, saying they do not see the club’s other potential suitors from last year, Pascal Rigo or Didier Quillot, as being viable options, especially in the event of relegation.

The supporters’ groups also seem confident that Lopez will back the club even if they are relegated, with one speaking of “a remarkable symbiosis despite our place in the table.” While Lopez may be a better fit for this proud and passionate fanbase than previous president Frédéric Longuépée, there’s no doubt that further pain likely lies ahead in Ligue 2 – or worse, should administration loom again as it did last summer – with the fans unable or unwilling to see the forest for the trees.

Quick Guide

Ligue 1 results

Show

Monaco 3-0 PSG

Angers 1-0 Brest

Bordeaux 0-2 Montpellier

Lorient 0-0 Strasbourg

Rennes 6-1 Metz

Reims 0-0 Lyon

Marseille 2-1 Nice

Lens 3-1 Clermont

Nantes 0-1 Lille

St Etienne 1-1 Troyes 

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Talking points

Monaco players celebrate while PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kicks the post in anger.
Monaco players celebrate while PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kicks the post in anger. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Rex/Shutterstock

Monaco may have rescued their season with a surprisingly comprehensive 3-0 win over PSG on Sunday. They have struggled lately, suffering frustrating eliminations from both the Europa League and the Coupe de France, and it seemed like aa place in Europe next season could also be slipping from their grasp. However, Philippe Clement’s team – powered by a double from Wissam Ben Yedder, who is now the top scorer in Ligue 1 – picked up a result that moves them to within two points of Lille, who lie sixth in the table. The two teams still have to meet and Monaco must also playderby rivals Nice and Rennes, but their place in Europe is firmly back in their own hands.

Rennes continued their relentless pursuit of a Champions League spot with a 6-1 win over Metz, Serhou Guirassy leading the way with a hat-trick. Despite giving their all against Leicester in midweek, Bruno Génésio’s players were well up for this game, with Martin Terrier adding a brace as well. The Breton side are back in league action against Nice after the international break, and a win there would see them four points clear of Les Aiglons in third. With Marseille still to play, they may even harbour thoughts of finishing second.

One side who could not take advantage of their rivals’ missteps was Strasbourg, who scraped a goalless draw against Lorient. While Julien Stéphan’s side are still unbeaten in seven, they may regret results like these at the end of the season. They missed the injured Adrien Thomasson but, given strikers as good as Ludovic Ajorque and Habib Diallo, they really ought to be doing better against a side scrapping to stay up.

Ligue 1 table

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