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Season review: France

Published: Tuesday 25 May 2010, 10.57CET
Didier Deschamps was the mastermind as Olympique de Marseille ended 17 painful years without a trophy by claiming the League Cup and Ligue 1 titles in impressive fashion.
by Christian Châtelet
from Paris
Season review: France
Lucho González and Hatem Ben Arfa celebrate after OM sealed the title ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 25 May 2010, 10.57CET

Season review: France

Didier Deschamps was the mastermind as Olympique de Marseille ended 17 painful years without a trophy by claiming the League Cup and Ligue 1 titles in impressive fashion.

Eyebrows were raised when Didier Deschamps accepted the challenge of restoring Olympique de Marseille to past glories last summer but the doubters were emphatically proved wrong. He guided OM to their maiden French League Cup in March and two months later the perennial underachievers had added the Ligue 1 title – some return for a side without a major title since Deschamps captained them to the 1993 UEFA Champions League.

Champions: Olympique de Marseille
As the Ligue 1 season reached the home straight there were several sides in the running but, as others stumbled, a run of eight wins in nine games sent OM clear of the pack. They sealed a record-equalling ninth championship with two games to spare, beating Stade Rennais FC 3-1, and it was fitting that Lucho should seal the triumph – the Argentinian, an €18m signing from FC Porto last summer, was crucial to the team's renaissance.

Cup final: Paris Saint-Germain FC 1-0 AS Monaco FC (aet)
Once again disappointing in the league, PSG save their best for the French Cup. In familiar surroundings at the capital's Stade de France, Guillaume Hoarau's extra-time goal earned PSG their third French Cup in seven years after a lively encounter. For Monaco coach Guy Lacombe it was a familiar story: second-tier EA Guingamp defeated his Rennes side last season.

League Cup final: Olympique de Marseille FC 3-1 FC Girondins de Bordeaux
Three goals in 16 second-half minutes earned OM a first title of any description since winning the second division in 1995 against the outgoing Ligue 1 champions. Souleymane Diawara and Mathieu Valbuena were both on target while Mathieu Chalmé put through his own net, rendering Ludovic Sané's late effore mere consolation.

European places*
Olympique de Marseille – UEFA Champions League group stage
Olympique Lyonnais – UEFA Champions League group stage
AJ Auxerre – UEFA Champions League play-off
LOSC Lille Métropole – UEFA Europa League play-off
Paris Saint-Germain FC – UEFA Europa League play-off
Montpellier Hérault SC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Lisandro (Olympique Lyonnais)
The 27-year-old striker only joined from FC Porto last summer but was an instant hit in Ligue 1, earning this award as voted for by the French Professional Footballers' Union. Tasked with filling the void left by Karim Benzema's departure for Real Madrid CF, he struck 15 league goals and helped Lyon to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

One to watch: Eden Hazard (LOSC Lille Métropole)
Lille has always attracted its fair share of visitors but they would perhaps rather not see the phalanx of scouts that have filed in to watch the 19-year-old Hazard this season. The Belgian international, an attacking midfielder, shone for free-scoring Lille and was a key player in their march to the UEFA Europa League round of 16.

Surprise package: AJ Auxerre
Montpellier have a strong claim but this must go to Auxerre. Tipped as relegation candidates at the beginning of the campaign, Jean Fernandez's side surprised even their own supporters when they lined up for the final round of matches in contention for a UEFA Champions League berth. Lille's defeat at FC Lorient meant it was in their hands and, in a dramatic finale, Auxerre did it as right-back Cédric Hengbart's 90th-minute header earned victory against FC Sochaux-Montbéliard.

Leading scorer: Mamadou Niang (18)

Relegated: Le Mans UC 72, US Boulogne, Grenoble Foot 38

Promoted: SM Caen, Stade Brestois 29, AC Arles-Avignon

Number: 17
Years between Marseille's triumph in the inaugural UEFA Champions League final in Munich and 27 March 2010 when they ended their wait for silverware with the League Cup. In between, OM lost two UEFA Cup finals, two French Cup finals and missed out on the 1999 league title due to a last-minute goal.

Quote
"Deschamps: player or coach, you make us happy."
A banner unfurled at the Vélodrome stadium as victory against Rennes secured the title for OM

Last updated: 01/06/10 18.58CET

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