Bordeaux: france title

For three weeks, Girondins de Bordeaux and Olympique de Marseille have known that the Ligue 1 trophy would reside either in the Stade Chaban Delmas or the Stade Velodrome for the coming 12 months. The surprisingly Lyon-free conclusion to the end of the season culminated on Saturday evening, with Bordeaux in need of only a point to claim the title for the first time in a decade. Any slip up, though, could allow OM to their first success since 1992.

Les Girondins, who travelled to relegation threatened Caen, had been involved in a similar scenario last season, however, the boot was on the other foot - Laurent Blanc’s men needed Auxerre to upset Lyon. An early OL blitz little over 12 months ago left Bordeaux’s hopes shattered as early as the first quarter of an hour.

Coming off the back of an 11 match winning run in all competitions, Bordeaux’s confidence was burgeoning. However, the remarkable streak of success has been achieved through tenacity and mental strength rather than overwhelming brilliance, although Yoann Gourcuff had sprinkled a little magic over the course of their remarkable sequence, and they were still scoreless at half-time in the Stade Michel d’Ornano. Marseille, playing at home to Stade Rennais, still had hope.

But Erik Gerets’ outfit were also embroiled in a deadlock after 45 minutes. Three minutes into the second half, news filtered through in Provence that Yoan Gouffran - not to be mistaken for Gourcuff - had given Bordeaux the lead. It would now take a miraculous turnaround to reignite Marseille’s hopes. OM did their part, firing four past Rennes as they gave a remarkable second half showing, ending the Bretons’ lingering European hopes.

Meanwhile in Normandy, Bordeaux repelled their increasingly offensively minded hosts, keeping the clean sheet that they so craved and showcased the remarkable resilience that has seen the Aquitaine club finish the season so powerfully.

Blanc summed up Bordeaux’s remarkable success, stating to the press after the game, “You know me, I'm someone who is quite reserved but it's true that I'm going to celebrate this after the match and on Sunday. These moments are so rare and so precious that they have to be savoured.

“It's the perfect recompense for two years of hard work from the players and the coaching staff, who have been fantastic.

“Everybody – even myself – expected Lyon to be champions. Then it was Marseille's turn. It was only late in the day that people realised Bordeaux were on an exceptional run. You have to stop your players from feeling under pressure, and I admit that it is easier to do that at Bordeaux than at some other clubs I could mention.”

Thousands upon thousands of jubilant Bordeaux fans gathered in Place des Quinconces this afternoon to celebrate the club’s title win and to witness their favourites lift the trophy for the first time – the prize was in Marseille on Saturday evening, presumably to allow the victorious side to lift the award in front of their own fans rather than because of any expectation that OM would actually win the crown.

It was therefore literally a case of so near yet so far away for les Phoceens and, understandably, their reactions were somewhat contrasting. “The club wanted to finish first or second and that goal has been achieved. Unfortunately my goal wasn't achieved,” Gerets explained, showing his phenomenal instinct to be the best. “That leaves me with regrets but there were so many satisfying things on a human level here. It was a very special experience.

“I would also like to apologise to the supporters for not being champions. The present I wanted to give these people who've supported me over the last two years was the title, so I'm sorry. I'm sorry to be leaving the club as well.”

Gerets’ efforts at Marseille were commendable and are certainly not deserving of the apologies he gave to the club’s fans, who hold him in such high regard. OM won 12 of their last 16 Ligue 1 fixtures, losing only once in that time frame – championship form. But such a haul of points was insufficient to keep pace with the fast finishing Bordeaux, whose 11 consecutive Ligue 1 successes is a truly historic effort – the best in the league’s history. Les Girondins’ ability to play nearly a third of the season only recording victories is a feat worthy of great respect.

(Robin Bairner,


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