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Week 29: Ligue 1 Talking Points: A Weekend for Young Poachers

French football writer Eric Devin‘s new Ligue 1 Talking Points column took the plaudits last week and he returns with five more reflections on last weekend’s top flight action.

One was a penalty, one was down to abhorrent marking, and one was perhaps a case of being in the right place at the right time, but Lille striker Divock Origi doubled his goal total for the season in netting a hat trick against Rennes this weekend.

A surprise standout at the World Cup, Origi had translated the summer’s performance into a lucrative move to Liverpool. Pilloried by fans earlier in the season for a perceived lack of loyalty, the young Belgian had struggled for form and goals. However, it is obvious that talent is there, and a constant shuffling of systems and positions was never going to aid in the player’s development.

Granted, Rene Girard has struggled to balance his side due to injuries, but Origi’s role was still a bit unclear. Now, however, Rony Lopes is due to return from suspension and with Sofiane Boufal having looked bright against Rennes, the talent is there to support Origi in attack. As Les Dogues haul themselves clear of the relegation scrap, hopefully a more adventurous approach will be taken, with the Belgian to benefit from that.   

Meanwhile, on Friday in Monaco another inconsistent 19 year old had doubled his goals tally for the season against Bastia. Anthony Martial was the beneficiary of some lackadaisical defending midway through the first half as he calmly slotted home a lovely weighted cross from Nabil Dirar. Ten minutes later, Drissa Diakite was sent off for the visitors and with Matheus Carvalho soon doubling the hosts’ lead, the result was never in doubt. 

Already capped for France’s U-21 side, big things were expected from the Lyon academy product upon his arrival in the principality. Used last season mostly as a substitute, Martial’s performances this campaign have suffered as Leonardo Jardim has dealt with injuries and tactical switches. Add to the mix the Portuguese manager’s focus on defence and it is easy to see why some frustration might have built up in the youngster. Now with fixture congestion and injury affording more opportunities in his favoured position, Martial’s potential is resurfacing.  

Talented though he may be, the young Frenchman was again gifted a goal by some defending which was really poor, even for being a man down. Just after the restart, Carvalho’s lovely slipped-in pass saw scorer turning provider as Martial notched his brace, with Francois-Joseph Modesto entirely at sea. 

Nobody likes to see poor defending, but the hope here is that these goals could perhaps prove a catalyst for a late-season turnaround for Anthony Martial and Divock Origi. With Lille in improving form as of late and Monaco nipping at the heels of the top three, a boost in confidence could find these teenagers playing a major role in the run-in. 


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