Week 5 review: Paris power on as Monaco fall
By S. Willis
PSG's 5-1 mauling of Metz sent them three points clear of Monaco, who fell to a first defeat in 17 Ligue 1 Conforama matches, 4-0 in Nice. Undefeated Lyon went third while Marseille were humbled 3-1 at home to Rennes.
Reigning Ligue 1 Conforama champions AS Monaco may have managed an impressive response to Paris Saint-Germain in Week 4, hammering Marseille 6-1, but in Week 5 the capital club's 5-1 win away to FC Metz - which featured a first appearance and a first goal from Kylian Mbappé - went unanswered, leaving Paris three points clear atop the table with a goal-difference advantage of +10.
Fully armed and operational
All eyes were on FC Metz's Stade Saint-Symphorien on Friday night as Mbappé lined up for his boyhood club for the first time - behind striker Edinson Cavani in an unfamiliar 4-2-3-1 formation. Although the home side managed to largely resist early on, a red card for Metz defender Benoît Assou-Ekotto (56') gave way to a second-half goal fest that saw Mbappé, Neymar Jr and Cavani all score before Lucas put the cherry on top late on.
"They may have had a man sent off but overall I think we deserved to win," said Paris coach Unai Emery, whose side look well and truly ready for the beginning of the Champions League group stage away to Celtic on Tuesday. "We will move forward with an idea, a style. It's important to have a balance between attack and defence. With individual talent we need tactical discipline. I think good players like to play with good players and Kylian [Mbappé] made a good start. I think all the players are happy."
Aiglons take flight
Thus the pressure was on Monaco to keep pace with their rivals as they travelled to Nice on Saturday afternoon but, as was the case last season, their trip to the Allianz Riviera ended in massive disappointment as Mario Balotelli (x2), Alassane Pléa and 18-year-old debutant Ignatius Ganago put them to the sword and claimed just the second win of a difficult campaign so far - ending Monaco's 16-match Ligue 1 Conforama winning streak.
"We didn't play well and messed up a lot of things in terms of our organisation and also the preparation for the game," said Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim with Wednesday's Champions League trip to RB Leipzig looming. "Not many players were with us during the international break and that's always difficult. We need to forget this result fast and prepare for our Champions League trip to Germany on Wednesday."
Opposite number Lucien Favre, who takes his side to Belgium to take on Zulte Waregem on Thursday, was duly pleased with the positive result.
"It was important to play well and we played as a team. We defended well and cut off the passing angles," noted the Swiss, whose side have stumbled out of the blocks after an impressive 2016-17 campaign. "The result does us a lot of good. It was important to get back on the right track. Mario Balotelli was involved in the pressing and that's indispensable. There are no worries over his goal-scoring capacity."
Meanwhile Olympique Lyonnais, who have their own Europa League appointment away to Cypriots Apollon Limassol FC on Thursday to prepare for, continued their unbeaten start to the season as captain Nabil Fekir clinched a 2-1 win in a tight battle with EA Guingamp.
"The three points is what we will remember, but also the team spirit because they didn't give up despite being in difficulty and got the second goal immediately after Guingamp's equaliser," said OL coach Bruno Genesio, whose side were coming off consecutive league draws. "We really suffered but we stuck together as a team. We were a little bit fortunate to get the three points when you look at the game as a whole, but it makes up for the points dropped in the last two games."
OMG as OM stutter again
Olympique de Marseille also kick off their Europa League campaign this week, at home to Turkish side Konyaspor, and will be looking at the match as an opportunity to bounce back after being humbled 3-1 at home to a vibrant Stade Rennais on Sunday night. Spectacular early goals from Wahbi Khazri and Benjamin Bourigeaud got the ball rolling and Marseille never recovered fully despite Morgan Sanson's late strike.
"We didn't get off to the kind of start we needed to in order to get over our last defeat. But I'm not worried; I'm just sad," said coach Rudi Garcia. "I don't want to see my OM play like that. I don't like losing, and it's an awful feeling tonight, but we just need to hunker down and not talk. Now we just have to win our next match, and it's great that it will be here on Thursday."
Cabella off the mark
Saint-Etienne bounced back from defeat to PSG with a 1-1 draw at home to Angers coming thanks to OM loanee Rémy Cabella's first strike for the club, while Bordeaux stayed in fifth place after being held to a scoreless draw away to Marcelo Bielsa's LOSC, who are yet to follow up on their promising Week 1 win over Nantes.
SM Caen notched a third win in a row, 2-1 at home to Dijon, while Claudio Ranieri's Canaris got just a second win of the campaign as Diego Carlos sealed the 1-0 result in Montpellier with a superb free-kick. Meanwhile promoted Troyes stopped a run of defeats with a 0-0 draw at home to Toulouse and Amiens came out with a 1-0 win in the battle of the promoted sides in Strasbourg thanks to Gaël Kakuta's second in as many matches.