In the span of a single week, it was as if Ligue 1 were thrown into a blender—shaken, stirred, crushed, slushed, and liquefied into a delicious hot mess. Once again, cramming two game weeks into a single calendrical week resulted in chaos. Wins, losses, and draws appeared seemingly at random, an artificial amplification of the parity of the league.
Out of all 20 games, the most eyebrow-raising result was PSG’s shocking 3-0 defeat to Montpellier. Let’s use this game as a jumping off point for exploring the craziness of the two condensed gameweeks. Despite stunning a surprisingly insipid PSG in week 16, Montpellier had lost 1-0 to Toulouse in week 15. In week 16, Toulouse lost 3-0 to league leaders Nice. It was only Nice and the unlikely Lille who ran the table with two wins in these two gameweeks, earning valuable points in their respective championship and relegation battles.
After their 1-0 defeat to Nice in week 15, Guingamp soundly defeated the very weak Nantes 2-0 in week 16. Nantes’ recent performances have provided some level of stability, though not in a direction the club would like, having just experienced a 6-0 shellacking by Lyon in week 15. In week 16, Lyon followed up their grand performance with a 1-0 defeat to lowly Metz (granted, an abandoned match due to the idiotic action of a firecracker-throwing fan, but work with me here), who were surprisingly upended 4-0 by fellow bottom-of-the-table side Nancy in week 15. Nancy proceeded their unlikely demolition with a 3-0 capitulation against Marseille in week 16. In week 15, Marseille drew 0-0 with Saint-Etienne, who lost 2-0 to Rennes in week 16. The up-and-coming Rennes side suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to relegation fodder Lorient in week 15. Lorient then tied 2-2 in week 16 with Angers, which lost 2-0 to PSG in week 15, thus completing the first circle of chaos.
As mentioned previously, Lille managed an impressive escape from the weeks’ chaos. In week 16, Lille beat Bordeaux 1-0. In week 15, Bordeaux drew 1-1 with Bastia, who cracked late in a 5-0 defeat against Monaco. Yet in week 15, the high flying Monegasques drew 1-1 with struggling Dijon, who managed a 3-3 draw the following week with Caen, the very same team that suffered a 4-2 defeat in week 15 at the hands of the surging Lille, thus, completing the second circle of chaos.
Though the top tier teams should be used to the strain of frequent action, given their European adventures, their adversity may be further compounded by the fatigue caused by these very midweek European clashes. For teams not even participating in European Cups, the effects of fatigue and depth are clearly evident as most teams were unable to maintain any semblance of consistent form.
And although PSG suffered a mystifying loss to Montpellier and Monaco surprisingly drew with Dijon, I do not believe these results are any indication of a terrible parity that the league often receives criticism for, but rather a natural result of so many games in so little time. Though a fun and wild ride, condensed gameweeks are like grabbing points from a bag. Stick your hand in and see what you get. Could be a win, could be a draw, could be a loss. The unlikely pair of Nice and Lille picked out two victories and became Champions of Chaos.