The Rhone Derby is one of the more fiercely competitive games in French football aside from Le Classique between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille. These games are normally fiercely contested between Lyon and Saint-Etienne from two cities approximately 30 miles apart, but they are clubs with strong traditions in Ligue 1. Saint Etienne, nicknamed Les Verts, enjoyed their most successful period between 1964 and 1976 during which time they won eight of their ten French titles whereas Lyon, or OL, won each of their seven crowns during the early millennium years. On Sunday evening, the latest instalment was enacted between the two teams but unfortunately, the result is likely to bear no significance towards the destiny of the 2015-16 Ligue 1 title.
At Stade de Gerland, Lyon prevailed via a 3-0 scoreline during an ill-tempered game and with Alexandre Lacazette returning to form by claiming all three goals. Yet there was just a suggestion that the standard of football on display was not quite top class and rival supporters were more interested in just winning this match than on retaining long-term ambitions of securing the Lique 1 title.
By winning the game, Lyon moved into second position in the Ligue 1 table but with just six points separating OL from tenth placed Nantes. However, after just 13 games of the current campaign PSG are already leading Ligue 1 by 10 points having won eleven league games this season and are in unbeaten in league football since losing 3-2 at Bordeaux during mid-March. The gap in terms of the level of football played plus the ambition between PSG and the traditionally strong teams of French football appears to be widening, with the Paris based team seemingly set to win their fourth consecutive title after winning Ligue 1 on just two occasions before their era of dominance.
The lack of real finance among the other teams compared to the Qatar funded PSG is also reflected European performances this term. PSG appear set to qualify for the knock-out phase with Real Madrid from Champions League Group A whereas Lyon are marooned at the bottom of Group H with just one point. Monaco failed to qualify for the group stages when beaten 4-3 on aggregate by Valencia in the playoffs.
In the Europa League, Monaco, Marseille, Saint Etienne or Bordeaux still face difficult fixtures as they seek to secure qualification for the next phase and none of those teams lead their respective groups with both Marseille and Bordeaux occupying third position.
Without the presence of PSG this season, the Ligue 1 title race would probably be deemed as one of the more exciting renewals in recent years but the fact that the remaining 19 challengers are just targeting a top three position may be diluting ambitions in French football. With television money lacking as compared to other European football league, future derby clashes between Les Verts and OL may continue as just to game to be won among local supporters rather than having a serious bearing on the destiny of the Ligue 1 title.
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