False starts for Montpellier and PSG
Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) vies with Bordeaux’s Ludovic Sane
PARIS, France ● Last season’s Ligue 1 top two, Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain, are still awaiting their first wins this term after adverse results on Sunday left both teams in the bottom half of the table.
Montpellier dropped into the relegation places following a 1-0 loss at home to Marseille, who went top, while big-spending PSG are 11th — already six points off the pace — after being held to a 0-0 draw by Bordeaux.
PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti made three changes to his starting XI at Parc des Princes but still his expensively assembled side looked worryingly bereft of ideas as they recorded their third consecutive draw.
“We’re not happy with the results,” said Ancelotti, whose club spent over 130 million euros ($163 million) on new players in the close season.
“We have the quality to win but we need to improve our work. It’s just a technical and tactical problem, it’s not a question of pressure. The start of the season has not been good.
“At the moment, we’re not playing good football. We play without speed, far from the goal, and all the players have problems.”
Star signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his return from injury but the biggest surprise in the PSG starting line-up was the presence of 17-year-old debutant Adrien Rabiot in midfield.
PSG largely controlled the first half but had little to show for their efforts, with long-range shots from Javier Pastore and Nene that were comfortably saved by Cedric Carrasso being the best they could muster.
Ibrahimovic thrashed a rasping free-kick narrowly wide early in the second half, before curling just wide with his left foot in the 73rd minute, but despite a lively cameo from substitute Jeremy Menez, the goal would not come.
Bordeaux had been seeking a ninth consecutive win in the French top-flight but the point was enough to keep them in the top four.
The resurgent Andre-Pierre Gignac was Montpellier’s scourge at Stade de la Mosson earlier in the day, claiming the game’s only goal 13 minutes from time to give Marseille their third victory in a row.
A loose pass from Daniel Congre presented the ball to Morgan Amalfitano and he found Gignac, who turned inside Vitorino Hilton and threaded a low shot between goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren and his near post.
Champions for the first time in their history last season, Montpellier have picked up just one point from their first three games and find themselves in the bottom three alongside Sochaux and promoted Troyes.
“There’s a lack of understanding compared to last season, which can be explained by all the changes to the team,” said Montpellier coach Rene Girard.
“Today we didn’t make the right choices and we made stupid mistakes when we shouldn’t have.”
After three matches, Marseille lead the standings by two points from Lyon, Valenciennes, Bordeaux and Toulouse.
“We have nine points, which is a good thing, but it’s only three matches, so everything is provisional,” said Marseille coach Elie Baup.
“We’ll have to see where we are after 10 matches. That’s when we can evaluate our potential.”
Saint-Etienne blew off the cobwebs in the other afternoon fixture, crushing Brest 4-0 at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard to register their first points of the campaign.
Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang claimed a brace of goals in each half, book-ending strikes from new signing Romain Hamouma and Josuha Guilavogui.
Lille needed a debut goal from right-back Djibril Sidibe to claim a 2-2 draw at Nice on Saturday, which left the 2011 champions four points behind Marseille in eighth place.