The past week has been the most significant of the season for French clubs. Last Friday, Marseille beat Rennes with an ominously confident and coherent performance. On Saturday, Lyon were equally impressive away to Sochaux. Messrs. Deschamps and Puel had cause to be optimistic as their teams rose to within a point of Lille. The following day, les Dogues and fellow title hopefuls PSG faced stern tests of nerve against, respectively, Valenciennes and Montpellier. Lille won and now have 52 points; three more than Rennes, four more than Marseille and Lyon. PSG drew having relinquished a two goal lead; on 45 points, their hope is fading.
Midweek, if Dechamps' optimism was dented at the hands of Man United, Puel's must have been obliterated by Real Madrid. Lyon were simply shredded in the second half. The headline of L'Equipe on Thursday morning was unequivocal: Fin!
France did, however, still have a representative in the Europa League. Not any more. PSG managed an admirable 1-1 draw away against Benfica but that wasn't enough to counterbalance a 1-2 defeat in the first leg.
This period of intense interest continues into the coming weekend. Lille travel to Brest; third placed Lyon face second placed Rennes; and Marseille slug it out with PSG in round two of le Clasico. Europe may be finished: Ligue 1 is just getting started.