With the destiny of the 2014-15 French Ligue title set to involve a three way tussle between Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Marseille, another team in that league is currently displaying much better form than any of the leading protagonists and were considered near certainties for relegation prior to the Winter break. Caen have won six of their eight league games this year and have played in some fairly dramatic games on their travels during 2015.
Caen were promoted from Ligue 2 last season after finishing third in the league table and opened their current top flight campaign by winning their first two matches on away soil besides losing 1-0 at home to Lille. Thereafter, just one league victory was registered during the rest of 2014 when a 2-1 win against Lorient in late October ended a sequence of three successive home defeats since being beaten by Lille.
It appeared likely that a swift return to Ligue 2 was inevitable especially when the team lost 1-0 at Lille when the league campaign resumed in January, which had followed elimination from the Coupe de France by Dijon during the previous weekend. However, those two defeats seemed to galvanise the Caen players and fortunes completely changed for the Northern France team.
Two 4-1 victories followed against Reims and Rennes before Saint Etienne were beaten 1-0 at Stade Michel d’Ornano, a game which featured the debut of loan signing Emiliano Sala from Bordeaux. The young striker failed to score in that match during a brief substitute appearance and also failed to find the net in a 2-0 home victory against Toulouse.
The following weekend involved a daunting visit to Parc des Princes to face PSG and with just a couple minutes remaining on the clock, the home team had been reduced to nine fit players but were leading 2-0.
Sala then reduced the arrears before Herve Bazile claimed an unlikely last minute equaliser.
Sala then netted a brace in a comfortable 4-1 home victory against struggling Lens as Caen prepared for another difficult away match at title chasing Marseille. The Southern French team had lost just one league game at Stade Velodrome all season when losing their opening home fixture to Montpellier but had won eleven home games since that defeat.
When Andre-Pierre Gignac scored the second Marseille goal in the 67th minute of the weekend match, few observers expected Caen to retain their unbeaten sequence. Yet the 2-0 scoreline flattered a Marseille team struggling to contain the counter-attacks of the opposition with the woodwork clattered on several occasions amid several near-misses. Caen then scored a deserved goal which was soon followed by a Sala equaliser to stun the home crowd. However, when Nicolas Benezet fired an unstoppable long-range winner past Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda with just three minutes remaining, the ensuing victory was fully deserved for Caen.
Caen are currently the in-form team in French Ligue 1 football and will not win the league title. Points are still required to ensure the top flight survival, but recent results suggest that the players are gaining confidence to play at a higher level and their enterprising football is being noted by many neutral supporters.
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