Monday, December 18, 2006
Celtic narrowly fail to bury Rangers' title ambitions once and for all but they still remain seventeen points clear at the top. Meanwhile here in France the title race is already all but over, following the 4-0 demolition of second-placed Lens, in their own Stade Félix-Boellart, by Lyon, who are now effectively assured of a sixth successive title. St-Etienne, local rivals of Lyon, by whom their regional supremacy has long been usurped, moved into Champions' League qualifying position following a 3-0 win at home to Valenciennes. Admittedly les verts occupied a similar position this time last year only to fall behind catastrophically in the New Year; but at least this winter is no African Nations' Cup to decimate the squad as happened during this year's tournament in Egypt. Lyon's dominance of French football is so complete that it is hard to remember that the last club other than them to win the title was Nantes, back in 2001. The once-great Breton side have fallen badly and for the third season running are battling relegation, currently lying second-last in the standings. In an effort to stem the rot they have signed up Fabien Barthez, until recently unwanted by most football clubs in the known world.