Montpellier, as it turned out last season, were the surprise champions of Ligue 1. The very reason, which allowed them to participate in yesterday afternoon’s French Cup Final at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
Having given kudos to Ligue 1 officials in their effort to promote the league outside France, the event might not have worked out for them as they had expected. The stadium was not packed to its capacity even when the tickets were being sold for $7 on websites like Groupon and LivingSocial. There’s something intensely wrong with that but I wouldn’t complain.
Getting back to what happened on the pitch, Olympique Lyon was the stronger team on paper with the likes of GK – Lloris, Striker – Gomis and Midfielder – Gourcuff, all starting. Michel Bastos was missing as he is currently in talks regarding his move to UAE giants – Al Ain. Lyon were always favorites to win this bout.
Without ex-striker Oliver Giroud (moved to Arsenal in the transfer window) and potential game-changer, midfielder Younes Belhanda, Montpellier looked a little sluggish. Although they initially took the lead through a brilliant individual effort from Utaka, defensive errors could be distinguished. And a he-isn’t-going-to-push-me-and-get-away-with-it mentality from Montpellier’s Marco Estrada, that resulted in him being flashed the red card, did not make things easier.
After a well fought 90 minutes, and having scored two goals each between the two teams, it’s always disappointing for a game to be decided on penalties but that is the way of Cup football. Eventually, Lyon were the one’s to lift the cup with Lloris’s judgment being a little more established than his counterparts.
Montpellier should not see this as a disappointment. Although, a little lackluster, the team showed signs of determination throughout the game. All eyes should focus on Ligue 1, this coming season as things get a little interesting down there.