Lille’s 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain last night was enough to bring them the cup-and-league double – they had already beaten PSG in the final of the Coupe de France – and a promise by the club president Michel Seydoux to throw a “huge party in this marvellous city”.
That’s a great achievement for a relatively unfashionable club that will do well to hang on to its better players. It is only their third Ligue 1 title, though their second double (look back to 1946 for the first). I did help a little by predicting a comfy late cruise to the championship for Marseille but the record books are unlikely to acknowledge this contribution.
At the other end of the table, Nice beat Lorient 2-0 and start today, like Sunderland, in 14th place. Sadly, an intriguing programme for the last games of the season next weekend leaves our fondly remembered midfielder Eric Roy uncertain of keeping them up. A draw at Valenciennes would suffice but the others fighting to stay in Ligue 1 – Lens and Arles-Avignon are down, the former beaten at home by the latter last night to give A-A a teaspoonful of pride, hitting all of 20 points – could otherwise overtake them.
Coming up, with Evian Thonon Gaillard – Evian will do for short – should be Dijon, home of the great mustard but also of Patrice Carteron, who famously scored for Sunderland in a Wear-Tyne derby. I watched that match in a pub in Lyon and, a couple of Geordies apart, the place erupted when the goal went in; he’d played 120 times for OL. Goal difference means it would take a couple of freak results in the final games for Dijon to be overhauled.
Great news for Patrice looks like being bad for Le Mans, one of Stephane Sessegnon’s former clubs and the home town of Mme Salut, not that she cares. After spending the first two-thirds of the season looking promotion candidates, les Manceaux have stumbled in the final third. They managed to lose 4-3 away to third-bottom Vannes despite having led 2-0 and 3-2 and now need – other than winning heavily at home to Nantes while Dijon collapse at Angers – Ajaccio to manage only a draw at Nimes on Friday night, plus that home win of their own.
It has been an unusually interesting season for the exile in France, with just enough Sunderland interest – including the collapse of Bordeaux – to make it fun.