Marseille beat Lyon and bounce back from crushing Champions League exit | Ligue 1

Marseille were the hosts but not necessarily the favourites in this Olympico – the nickname for matches between Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais. They started the game four points above Lyon in the Ligue 1 table, but the visitors had been showing some renewed attacking verve under new manager Laurent Blanc, who replaced Peter Bosz last month and enjoyed an uptick in results after bringing in Jérôme Boateng and Houssem Aouar from the cold.

Lyon had looked more solid in their recent wins over Lille and Montpellier, especially against Paulo Fonseca’s attack-minded Lille team. A win at the Vélodrome would have taken them within a point of Marseille, and above Lille on goal difference, putting them within touching distance of the top six before the World Cup, no mean feat given their abject run of results in September.

While Lyon’s form had improved, though, Marseille’s own results had taken a nosedive. Igor Tudor’s side had won just one of their previous nine matches – and that was against a Sporting side who finished the game with nine men. Their confidence must have been sapped even further after their heartbreaking defeat to Spurs in the Champions League in midweek.

Marseille produced an enterprising display and took the lead in the first half, but the night went from bad to worse as Spurs equalised through Clément Lenglet before winning the game in the 95th minute thanks to a goal from Pierre-Emile Højberg. At one point in the evening Marseille were on course to reach the last-16 stage of the Champions League, but by the end of the night they had been knocked out of Europe completely. Given their charitable draw, finishing last in the group was an embarrassment. And, to make matters worse, their league form has suffered while they have been competing on two fronts.

The elimination put pressure on Tudor. The Croatian’s bold decisions to bench Dimitri Payet, Bamba Dieng and Gerson looked more suspect by the minute and, with a dangerous Monaco team to come next weekend, the former Verona boss needed a result against Lyon. L’Équipe’s headline for their match preview put it bluntly: “Maximum Pressure.”

Marseille players react to their elimination from the Champions League.
Marseille players react to their elimination from the Champions League. Photograph: Valerio Pennicino/Uefa/Getty Images

Lyon have had Marseille’s number in recent years, even doing the double over them last year despite finishing well below Marseille’s second place. On the night, Tudor was given a rough welcome by fans but, to his credit, he kept to his principles tactically and personnel-wise.

The match was a scrappy affair, with Samuel Gigot’s goal towards the end of the first half enough to secure all three points for Marseille. There was only one booking, but neither side – urged on by a baying Vélodrome crowd – was willing to give much in the duels. It was a deserved win for the hosts, who moved to within a point of the top three after Rennes could only draw in Lille.

Tudor was quick to say it had been a team effort, while also reminding the media that Marseille have not had the rub of the green lately. “It was an important, special match, especially in a period when we haven’t really got what we deserved,” he said. “We really dominated in the first half. We had a second half where we showed plenty of heart. It was difficult. We had to fight for it. There was a desire to take the three points at all costs – among the starters as well as the players who came on.”

Marseille’s wing-backs, Nuno Tavares and Jonathan Clauss, were both eager to get forward. Clauss is usually the more natural outlet but Tavares – who is on loan from Arsenal – made several fine crosses and added balance to the attack. The player deserving of the most praise, however, was unquestionably Alexis Sánchez.

The club’s decision to sign him in the summer was pilloried by some as he seemed to be on the wane after falling out of favour at Inter. He has, however, become a fulcrum for the team both on and off the pitch, winning the hearts of the Vélodrome faithful, even as most of them pine for Payet’s return to the side. His unending running unsettled a Lyon defence that looked uncomfortable playing in a back four for the first time under Blanc. The 33-year-old showed admirable effort, battling hard to win headers and drag defenders out of position. Like Lionel Messi, Sánchez looked to be in decline last season before adopting a slightly different position and improving this year.

The frustration of Marseille’s elimination from Europe will still sting, but there is plenty of football to play this season domestically in France. With the resolute Tudor and the diligent Sánchez leading the way, Marseille should return to that competition sooner rather than later.

Quick Guide

Ligue 1 results


Lorient 1-2 PSG

Clermont 1-1 Montpellier

Nice 1-0 Brest

Reims 1-0 Nantes

Toulouse 0-2 Monaco

Lille 1-1 Rennes

Marseille 1-0 Lyon

Ajaccio 4-2 Strasbourg

Angers 1-2 Lens

Troyes 1-1 Auxerre

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Talking points

Neymar was excellent for PSG in their 2-1 win over Lorient.
Neymar was excellent for PSG in their 2-1 win over Lorient. Photograph: Stéphane Mahé/Reuters

After winning eight of their first 10 matches this season, Lorient have recently been on a bad run, failing to win any of their last four. Injuries to top scorer Terem Moffi and influential midfielder Laurent Abergel have played their part, with the team also realising that competing with the top teams in the league is a bridge too far. Playing PSG – who were missing Lionel Messi and were coming off a midweek match in the Champions League – at home gave Lorient a chance to right the ship. Neymar had other ideas though, scoring the opener and assisting Danilo Pereira for the second as the visitors won 2-1. The Brazilian has scored or set up a goal in all but one of the league matches he has started this season. If Brazil were not already World Cup favourites, his form makes a convincing argument.

Rennes continued their stunning unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw at Lille. Their goal came from a soft penalty given against Jonathan Bamba on Christopher Wooh. How Bamba was left to mark a player eight inches taller than him is more of the problem but, with Steve Mandanda on form, the Bretons secured an ugly point against another European hopeful, despite the absence of Martin Terrier. The Champions League was just beyond their reach last season but, with an extended break and a deeper squad, could Bruno Génésio drag his side back into Europe’s top competition?

Monaco won 2-0 at Toulouse to move within a point of the top three. Manager Philippe Clement set about improving his team’s defence after their 4-3 defeat to Lille last month and they have now kept two clean sheets in a row. They are moving in the right direction as they prepare to face Marseille on Sunday.

Tottenham are through to the last 16, but does it have to be this hard? | Champions League

Never really in doubt was it? Except, of course, for all those moments in the opening 45 minutes when it looked wholly and entirely in doubt, as Tottenham produced a mind‑numbingly cautious first half in Marseille but still had enough drive to secure what felt by the end like a pointlessly painful victory.

Three points put them top of Group D, in the hat for whatever might happen in that strange, distant place known as the second half of the season. And whatever the manner of victory, this is a significant moment.

Failing to make it through this group would have been a devastating blow: financially, but also in terms of heft and lustre. For Antonio Conte there is the issue of basic relevance, of still being a player in this thing. Spurs are third in the league and into the knockout stages. Their passage here was tricky, with key players missing and Conte glowering on from the stands.

This is tangible progress. Perhaps the sight of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, in agony, drained, beside himself after slotting a spectacular last-second winning goal might even offer a note of ignition to the season.

Is it enough though? Spurs are also the 10th richest football club in the world. And this victory will raise questions too, mainly some basic notions of style and intent, about how exactly Spurs want to do this, what they want their football to feel like.

Conte is a managerial paradox in his own right. Here is a charismatic, vibrant, glitzy presence, whose teams exist in a fiercely controlled state of caution; whose own wild touchline gymnastics are like a mocking counter-commentary on the rigidly drilled nature of his football.

How exactly does this act of vanity work? At the very least, does it have to be this hard? The Stade Vélodrome is a cauldron-ish place, all son et lumière and theatrical waves of noise. But Marseille are not an intimidating team, fifth in Ligue 1 right now and bottom of Group B at start of play.

Son Heung-min is helped off the pitch in Marseille
Son Heung-min is helped off the pitch in a first half where Spurs failed to utilise the striker Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

This was a strikingly even group on matchday six, in part because it also wasn’t a very good group. None of these teams are actual champions. Spurs are the only one currently in the top three of their domestic league.

So this was a night for being active from the start, for forcing the moment. Tottenham, well, Tottenham sat deep in their flat back five, three midfielders in front. This is the way of this team. They want to play less football, not more, to win by counterthrust, by playing just enough football and no more. Is this really how this thing works now?

Conte did do something unusual, starting with inverted wing‑backs, Ryan Sessegnon on the right, Ivan Perisic on the left. The net effect was to amplify the threat outside, most notably on Sessegnon’s side. And Spurs’ intentions seemed obvious enough in a dreadful first half. Make the game boring. Take the football out of this. A foul, a stoppage, dead ends, stubbed toes. This is all good. Their greatest comfort at that stage was the bluntness of Marseille’s final pass.

Spurs lost Son Heung-min, shaken after a violent aerial challenge, although he had at that point completed one pass in 28 minutes on the pitch. And once again they managed the odd trick of being cautious, deep, double-banked, but also oddly porous and brittle. Is this a thing worth sharing with Europe’s elite teams? Where does it hope to go? Finally Marseille scored. Chancel Mbemba’s header was a lovely thing.

Spurs’ dithering at the corner less so.

And through this there was a familiar sadness about watching Harry Kane in this team. He roams across those spaces, looks for stray balls. It’s just a kind of scavenging existence, living off your wits, pushing that trolley across an empty landscape. Early on Son picked up the ball, ran forward, saw only Kane surrounded by white shirts, then just turned and ran back – towards what exactly? – before finding himself surrounded.

But Tottenham changed, abruptly, as the second half started. The wing‑backs had switched to their stronger sides. The midfield played with more aggression. Spurs were kind-of transformed. That is, they looked like a football team here to show something of themselves. There was even something agreeable in Clément Lenglet scoring the equaliser, excellent on the night, delighted with his moment and, let’s face it, a quiz question in the making in years to come. Spurs’ past nine goals have all come in the second half. This feels like an oversight, or a misreading of the rules.

The first half also exists. It is allowed.

From there the second half was gripping, but gripping in a way that shouldn’t have been required. When Spurs passed the ball and showed attacking ambition it was clear Marseille were there for the taking.

Rodrigo Bentancur was classy and assertive, a midfielder too good to be asked simply to sit. Højbjerg won it at the death with a wonderful finish. A year into the age of Antonio, there is a chance here to build something.

Spurs players woken by Marseille fans’ fireworks outside hotel during night | Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham’s players endured a disrupted night of sleep on the eve of the crucial Champions League tie against Marseille as local fans set off fireworks above the team hotel.

Spurs sources reported “very prolonged” displays outside where they stayed and there being more than one of them – believed to have been at 1.30am and 4.30am on Tuesday – which woke up Antonio Conte’s players.

The north London club, who need a draw on Tuesday night to qualify for the last 16 and will be knocked out if they lose, were braced for dirty tricks from the Marseille support but there was nothing they could do to prevent the fright night on Halloween.

Spurs are preparing for a hostile atmosphere at the game, even though the Velodrome’s Visage Nord will be closed after incidents involving the Marseille fans against Eintracht Frankfurt in September.

Tottenham must show their nasty side on date with destiny in Marseille | Tottenham Hotspur

As Tottenham prepare for a date with destiny – at the Stade Vélodrome against Marseille on Tuesday night – Antonio Conte cannot escape the feeling that it ought not to have come to this; his club’s qualification to the Champions League last-16 should already be secure.

It was – at their own stadium last Wednesday; then it was not. And the fallout to the VAR-driven decision to disallow what would have been a stoppage-time Harry Kane winner against Sporting Lisbon has changed everything; joy to foreboding with the click of one of those lines. Spurs now need a draw to go through. Lose and they would be pressed into the Europa League.

There is the detail of the red card that Conte was shown by the referee, Danny Makkelie, in the emotional aftermath of the Kane goal which was not – Conte was given it for encroaching onto the pitch and it means he will be banned from the dressing-room and touchline in Marseille. His last direct contact with the players will come on the bus to the stadium.

How will Conte communicate from his seat in the stands to the dug-out? By having his brother, Gianluca – a member of the coaching staff – beside him, who will then radio down. Uefa’s rules on indirect communication are not without their grey areas. If there are practical problems and the Marseille manager, Igor Tudor, said it would be better that Conte was inconvenienced, they are outweighed by the psychological ones.

The thing to stress is that the VAR got the Kane call right, however bizarre it felt and however much it appeared to show that hardly anyone actually knows the laws of the game these days. So Spurs simply have to suck it up and get on with it. It is not that simple, however, and what the flashpoint has done is to add another layer to the mental challenge that confronts Conte and his players.

It was interesting to follow the direction of Conte’s anger after the Sporting tie and, indeed, on Friday when he sat down to preview Saturday’s Premier League fixture at Bournemouth, which Spurs would win 3-2 having been 2-0 down – a significant boost. Conte does not believe that a bigger club would have seen a goal chalked off in similar circumstances, a club that play the angles harder, who apply greater pressure where he thinks it can matter. Conte did not mention Juventus, the giants of Italy where he spent the bulk of his playing career and also managed, but they were surely in his thoughts.

Antonio Conte arrives at the stadium during the club's buildup to the group decider
Antonio Conte’s team must avoid defeat in France to progress from their group. Photograph: Tottenham Hotspur FC/Getty Images

The mind went back to when Spurs were knocked out of the 2017-18 Champions League by Juventus in the last-16 and the then Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, accused the Italians of pressurising the referee in the tunnel at half-time – players and senior executives equally on the case.

Pochettino said there were “two games against this type of club – one on the pitch, one outside it” and Juventus had given Spurs “a massive lesson in how to behave” in the latter. He added: “It was easy for the referee to manage us because we were very nice people.”

At Spurs, Conte has urged the hierarchy on more than one occasion to lean more heavily on those who put together the fixture schedule, while in the wake of the VAR drama against Sporting he told the chairman, Daniel Levy, and the managing director, Fabio Paratici, to speak to the authorities about recent decisions that have gone against them. “I understood that to be silent is not good,” Conte added.

The week before last, Conte had also ordered his players to be alive to the game’s darker arts and it all feeds into the need for Spurs to think and act like a big club, the perennial narrative about them having to harden their mentality.

The Vélodrome will have its Virage Nord closed after incidents involving the Marseille support against Eintracht Frankfurt in September but the atmosphere is sure to be hot and it is incumbent on Spurs to show their personality in possession, to be ruthless as a team and even “nasty” – to borrow the word that Conte has used. They must do so from the outset, rather than saving their aggression and a sense of abandon for when the result threatens to slip away, as they have done of late.

When did Spurs last impose themselves in the first half of a game? Not in any of their previous five, beginning with the matches against Everton, Manchester United and Newcastle. It is a worrying trend and one that Conte must rectify because Marseille will have a major bearing on how the season is viewed. The manager will have to make do without Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison. The assistant coach, Cristian Stellini, reported that all three were still out with injuries.

Spurs have failed to perform to the required level in each of the past seven European away ties, going back to the 3-0 Europa League humbling against Dinamo Zagreb in March 2021. There were three losses and a draw in the Europa Conference League last season and so far in the Champions League it has been the last-gasp capitulation against Sporting and the stalemate with Eintracht.

“Every time we play a high-level team, we struggle,” Conte noted after the defeat at Manchester United two weeks ago. Marseille are not in that bracket, with Tudor keen to promote their “outsider” status. The stakes, though, could scarcely be more lofty.

Champions League roundup: Bayern, Napoli and Brugge seal knockout places | Champions League

Bayern Munich cruised past Viktoria Plzen 4-2, putting them through to the knockout stage of the Champions League after punishing the Czech champions during a ruthless first-half display.

The victory combined with Barcelona’s 3-3 draw with Internazionale put Bayern through to the knockout stage while confirming the hosts’ exit. Bayern, who have now gone a record-extending 32 group matches in the competition without defeat, struck first after 10 minutes when Sadio Mané played a one-two with Leon Goretzka before putting the ball in the net.

An unmarked Thomas Müller doubled the visitors’ lead, before Goretzka nabbed two goals to round off the scoring for Bayern. Adam Vlkanova and Jan Kliment pulled goals back for the home side in the second half.

Napoli kept up their 100% record in the Champions League group phase and secured progress to the knockout stages by beating Ajax 4-2 at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

Early goals from Hirving Lozano and Giacomo Raspadori put the Serie A leaders comfortably ahead by the 16-minute mark and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia added a second-half penalty after Davy Klaassen had pulled one back for Ajax.

The Dutch club made a desperate bid for a share of the spoils as Steven Bergwijn converted an 83rd-minute penalty to bring the score back to 3-2 but a terrible defensive error allowed Victor Osimhen to score Napoli’s fourth in the final minute.

Napoli’s 12-point haul means they are guaranteed a top-two finish in Group A, having scored 17 goals in four matches. Elsewhere in the section, Liverpool demolished Rangers 7-1 to put themselves a point away from qualification.

Hirving Lozano celebrates his opening goal with Victor Osimhen, who later came on to score Napoli’s fourth.
Hirving Lozano celebrates his opening goal with Victor Osimhen, who later came on to score Napoli’s fourth. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Club Brugge reached the knockout round after a 0-0 draw against Atlético Madrid guaranteed them a top-two spot in Group B. Atlético squandered a string of chances as they extended their winless streak in the competition to three games.

Elsewhere in the group, Porto’s Galeno scored one goal and earned two penalties for Mehdi Taremi to convert as they cruised to a 3-0 victory at Bayer Leverkusen, taking over second place with two matches remaining.

With manager Xabi Alonso making his Champions League debut on the Leverkusen bench, the German side quickly found themselves a goal behind after six minutes. Try as they might the hosts could not get back into the game with Porto keeper Diogo Costa pulling off several outstanding saves.

Porto’s win lifted them into second place on six points, Leverkusen are in fourth place on three points with only an outside chance of qualifying. Atlético are third on four.

In Group D, Marseille boosted their chances of reaching the last 16 with a 2-0 victory at nine-man Sporting. Mattéo Guendouzi and Alexis Sánchez scored before the break as Sporting, who lost Ricardo Esgaio and Pedro Gonçalves to red cards either side of the interval.

The result put Marseille in second place on six points, one behind Tottenham who beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2. Sporting are third on six points, two ahead of Eintracht.

Champions League roundup: Napoli pummel Ajax 6-1, Inter beat Barcelona | Champions League

Giacomo Raspadori scored twice as Napoli came from behind to deliver a masterclass and score a runaway 6-1 win at 10-man Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The captain, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Piotr Zielinski, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and the substitute Giovanni Simeone added the other goals for the Italian league leaders, after Mohammed Kudus had given the hosts the lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

Napoli, who might have scored more such was their dominance, have a 100% record at the halfway point in Group A, leaving Ajax with three points from their opening three games and in danger of missing out on next year’s knockout stages after their biggest defeat in European football.

Internazionale bounced back after two consecutive losses in Serie A with a crucial 1-0 win against Barcelona thanks to a Hakan Calhanoglu goal. The midfielder slotted home a clinical strike from just outside the area, with the ball going into the corner to the goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen’s right in added time before the break. The home win lifted Inter to second place in Group C on six points, three behind leaders Bayern Munich and three in front of Barcelona.

Bayern struck three times in the opening 21 minutes en route to a 5-0 demolition of Viktoria Plzen to set a record for the longest unbeaten run in group matches. The German champions have now gone 31 group games in the competition without defeat.

Elsewhere, goals from Club Brugge forwards Kamal Sowah and Ferran Jutglà saw the Belgian champions beat Atlético Madrid 2-0 at home to extend their perfect run in Group B this season. The hosts took the lead in the 36th minute when Jutglà’s low pass across the goal found Sowah, who tapped the ball into an empty net for his second European goal in three games.

Jutglà doubled the lead in the 62nd minute after winger Tajon Buchanan calmly waited for the right moment to set up the Spanish forward inside the box. Atlético had a chance to get back into the match with a penalty 15 minutes later but Antoine Griezmann lashed the ball against the bar and moments later the forward thought he had scored but his effort was ruled out for offside. Porto substitutes Zaidu and Galeno were both on target as they beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 to seal the Portuguese side’s first victory in the group stage. They are level on points with Leverkusen after three matches.

Marseille secured their first Champions League win of the season when they recovered from a shaky start to outclass 10-man Sporting 4-1 in an incident-packed Group D encounter at an empty Stade Vélodrome. The game, played behind closed doors after crowd trouble marred Marseille’s home match against Eintracht Frankfurt, was delayed by more than 20 minutes following Sporting’s late arrival at the stadium due to a traffic jam.

Wissam Ben Yedder’s hat-trick shows Didier Deschamps what he is missing | Ligue 1

Wissam Ben Yedder’s hat-trick for Monaco against Nantes on Sunday evening at the Stade-Louis II was a brilliant repudiation of Didier Deschamps’ decision to drop him from the France squad last month. A regular for two years, the diminutive Ben Yedder has won 19 caps under Deschamps and, while he’s only scored three goals for his country, his imperious form in Ligue 1 and the fact that he offers France a different type of attacking option made him a likely member of the World Cup squad.

This season, though, Ben Yedder’s form had drifted. He failed to find the net in his first five league games and did not break that duck until the weekend before the international break, when he scored late on against Reims. His form mirrored his club’s. After a brilliant win at Strasbourg on the opening day, Monaco did not win any of their next four league matches. Their 1-1 draw at the Parc des Princes was a decent result, as was their gritty stalemate when down to 10 men against Rennes, but their losses to Troyes and Lens were worrying, particularly as Lyon and Marseille made flying starts.

The departure of Aurélien Tchouaméni had a big impact on the team’s ability to play with the dynamism they showed last season. However, the absence through injury of Myron Boadu and Kevin Volland (who came off the bench on Sunday), along with an inconsistent start for Takumi Minamino, meant that – despite the work done by the impressive Breel Embolo – Ben Yedder’s scoring was most keenly missed, doubly so given his role as captain. Being asked to play as a lone striker at times did not make things any easier but, with just one goal in more than five hours of league football, he was hardly making his case to Deschamps.

With his club form drifting, Ben Yedder was left out of the France squad for their Nations League matches against Austria and Denmark, with Christopher Nkunku and Randal Kolo Muani drafted in and Olivier Giroud also picked.

The riposte from the famously taciturn Ben Yedder – who scored 32 times for Monaco last season – started early against Nantes, with his elegant sixth-minute chip, following an inventive header from Embolo, extending the hosts’ lead to 2-0 . The pair have taken some time to acclimatise to each other, but manager Philippe Clement was effusive in his praise for them after the match, saying: “It’s important to create complementarity between two players, and this was the case today.”

Aleksandr Golovin set up Ben Yedder’s second goal just before the half-hour mark, the striker doing what he does best and finding the top corner with his first touch. He then added a third from the penalty spot midway through the second half, sealing the result for Clement’s men, with a late own goal the only blemish on Monaco’s 4-1 win.

Monaco are still only fifth, though, so have work to do. The four sides above them in the table – PSG, Marseille, Lorient and Lens – all won this weekend. But Monaco have a kind run of fixtures before the World Cup, including matches against a leaky Montpellier side, Clermont and Angers; their game against Marseille in mid-November is the only one that looks dangerous.

It’s not all been smooth sailing for Monaco, but in the last few matches they – and their captain – have looked far more like the team we wrote about earlier in the season. What has turned into a surprisingly challenging Europa League group will offer no respite but, with Volland and defender Guillermo Maripán both fit again, Monaco look as well equipped as any team in France to finish in the top three.

Quick Guide

Ligue 1 results


Lorient 2-1 Lille
Ajaccio 1-3 Clermont
Auxerre 1-1 Brest
Toulouse 4-2 Montpellier
Troyes 2-2 Reims
Monaco 4-1 Nantes
Lens 1-0 Lyon
Strasbourg 1-3 Rennes
PSG 2-1 Nice
Angers 0-3 Marseille 

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Talking points

Kylian Mbappé came off the bench and scored PSG’s winner against Nice.
Kylian Mbappé came off the bench and scored PSG’s winner against Nice. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

For a few moments on Saturday evening, it looked as if PSG would drop points for just the second time this season. Nice were not expected to hold them to a draw but Gaëtan Laborde’s equaliser early in the second half was shaping up to be a momentous goal, especially as Les Aiglons badly needed a result given their recent form. It wasn’t to be, however, Kylian Mbappé coming off the bench to slot home the winner five minutes from time. In his first match without his vaunted attacking trio available from the start, this wobble will have been unnerving for Christophe Galtier but the result is what matters. Mbappé once again proved to be PSG’s trump card and the decision to leave him out of the starting XI means he is rested before the trip to Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Incredibly, had PSG not won, they would have shared top spot with Marseille. Yes, Marseille came second last season and were expected to tussle for a European place, but with key defenders Luan Peres, William Saliba and Boubacar Kamara all leaving in the summer, Igor Tudor’s side looked a shambles in pre-season. They have been anything but since, though, with their squad showing impressive balance and depth. They dispatched Angers easily on Friday without really breaking a sweat. The season is long and the Champions League looks (again) to be a stumbling block, but on the evidence so far, Tudor deserves a rather hearty mea culpa from his doubters.

Finally, a word for Rennes. After a couple of early season defeats to Lens and Lorient, Bruno Génésio’s team has now gone seven games unbeaten across all competitions. With summer signing Arnaud Kalimuendo fit and scoring again at the weekend, they look sharper by the week. Add a defence that’s the fourth-best in the league, and the departures of Laborde and Nayef Aguerd this summer look increasingly like irrelevances. The Breton side are poised for another tilt at the European places.

Ligue 1 table