Week 1 review: Stars shine on opening weekend!
By S. Willis
The 2017-18 Ligue 1 Conforama season got off to a spectacular start with Lyon emerging in top spot after a 4-0 win over Strasbourg, with champions Monaco besting Toulouse and a certain 222 million Euro Brazilian arrival watching on as PSG trumped Ami
The opening round of the 2017-18 Ligue 1 Conforama season offered a bevy of exciting action from a host of new-look sides bolstered by new arrivals both on the pitch and the touchline, but there was one man who threatened to overshadow it all: Neymar Jr.
The Brazil international's astronomic arrival at Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday night led to scenes of near-pandemonium in the French capital - the club sold around a million Euros' worth of shirts bearing his name in the 24 hours following his signature - before the former Barcelona superstar was presented to an enraptured crowd at the Parc des Princes in the lead-up to the Week 1 clash with promoted Amiens.
A paperwork delay prevented Neymar from being eligible to take the field, but Unai Emery's men reminded everyone that the club had a fairly decent side before the Brazilian's arrival as last season's top scorer and Ligue 1 Player of the Year Edinson Cavani opened his account (42'). He then provided the assist for Javier Pastore to round out a dominant 2-0 win over an understandably defence-minded Amiens, playing the first-ever top-flight match in the club's 116-year history.
"We played the match the way we wanted to, with a lot of control and in a stadium where the atmosphere was good. We had possession and chances but need to stick more of them away in order to be comfortable," said PSG coach Unai Emery, who will almost certainly field his new signing in next week's trip to Guingamp. "There's enthusiasm at the club and it's great to see the supporters excited. Paris is a great club and with Neymar on board has just become greater still. Together we can grow. Neymar is there to add something to the team."
Jardim: 'A good attitude'
A solid start for last season's runners-up, while for reigning champions Monaco it was slightly tougher going as they twice came from behind before trumping Toulouse 3-2 at the Stade Louis II. Andy Delort starred for the visitors with an assist for Zinedine Machach (6') and a fine strike (53'), but Monaco - even though teenage sensation Kylian Mbappé had a relatively quiet match - hit back through Jemerson (28'), Radamel Falcao (58') and Kamil Glik (70').
"I have to congratulate the team, because normally your physical condition isn't perfect at the start of the league," said last season Coach of the Year Leonardo Jardim. "It's thanks to a good attitude that we won. If you drop off physically and mentally, you never manage to get back. We deserve this win."
Diaz, Fekir take OL top
Meanwhile a new-look Olympique Lyonnais rocketed to the top of the table after braces from new captain Nabil Fekir and new signing Mariano Diaz clinched a 4-0 drubbing of promoted RC Strasbourg Alsace. An encouraging performance given the exodus of top-class talent - Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso and captain Maxime Gonalons - but coach Bruno Genesio was careful not to count his chickens.
"It's just the first match and I don't want to draw premature conclusions. The idea was to be solid defensively as our defence was what stopped us being in the top three last season. We scored 114 goals in all competitions but we were too unbalanced and left too much space between the lines. We put the accent on correcting that, but this was only a first game."
OM, LOSC among the goals
Just below OL sit Olympique de Marseille, who trumped Dijon 3-0 - thanks to a Clinton Njie brace on either side of a strike from Florian Thauvin - by turning things around following a tepid first-half performance.Meanwhile OM's former coach Marcelo Bielsa landed with a splash at new club LOSC, trumping fellow Ligue 1 Conforama new arrival Claudio Ranieri's Nantes 3-0 in the north.
LOSC signed no fewer than 12 players for the Argentine coach's overhaul of the squad, and two of them - Junior Alonso and Anwar El Ghazi - got on the scoresheet along with last season's ray of hope Nicolas de Préville.
Strong start for Guinamp, more pain for Bordeaux
EA Guingamp claimed the only away win of the round, trumping FC Metz 3-1, while Montpellier and AS Saint-Etienne both got off to winning 1-0 starts, over SM Caen and OGC Nice respectively. Promoted Troyes were caught in their 1-1 draw at home to Stade Rennais and Bordeaux, after being dumped out of Europa League qualifying in mid-week, saw victory slip through their fingers as a late goal from their hosts clinched a 2-2 draw in Angers. Montpellier kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 victory at home to SM Caen.