Monaco look to extend best start to campaign

Defending champions Paris Saint-Germain and fellow title hopefuls Marseille will continue to jostle for Ligue 1 supremacy with early-season pace-setters Monaco this weekend.

Monaco look to extend best start to campaign
Monaco's Falcao celebrates after helping his team retain top spot in Ligue 1 against Bastia on Wednesday. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Claudio Ranieri's principality side retained their two-point lead at the top with a 3-0 win at home to Bastia in midweek, as PSG and Marseille kept pace with respective victories over Valenciennes and Saint-Etienne.

Radamel Falcao scored twice at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday to take his season's tally to a league-best seven goals, as Monaco extended their best start to a Ligue 1 campaign.

"As a striker of course I'm always happy when I score and that was again the case in the victory against Bastia," said Falcao.

"For us it was important to win, thanks to the victory, we stay top," added the Colombian.

Ranieri, though, said it was premature to cast Monaco, who only returned to the top flight this season after a two-year absence, as genuine title challengers despite their strong start.

"I think it's too early to say we've sent out a signal (to the other teams) but we continue to reaffirm our good start to the season.

"With the results we play with confidence and calmness," said Ranieri, who dismissed the significance of being first in the table so early in the campaign.

"The standings? The important thing is the way in which the team moves forward," explained the Italian.

On Sunday Monaco travel to mid-table Reims who have lost just once in seven outings and conceded only one goal since mid-August.

Second-placed PSG, who are in the middle of a run of five fixtures in 15 days, return to the capital on Saturday to host Toulouse.

Alain Casanova's men were languishing in the bottom three a fortnight ago but back-to-back victories have catapulted Toulouse up to 11th.

Meanwhile, PSG put the disappointment of Sunday's 1-1 draw with Monaco behind them as Edinson Cavani struck the decisive goal in a 1-0 win away to Valenciennes.

"We got the main thing, the three points, because there was a lot of fatigue (on Wednesday). We had a difficult match but it won't be the first, nor the last this season," said PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi.

"We had to recover the two points dropped at home to Monaco, and we did that. Now we have to continue our march forward," added the France international.

The fixture marks a return to the Parc des Princes for Clement Chantome, who left Paris in the summer to join Toulouse on loan.

Despite strong ties to PSG, who are unbeaten so far this term and have not lost any of their last 18 Ligue 1 games, a confident Chantome insisted Toulouse were capable of causing a surprise this weekend.

"We should go there to play the game. PSG are a beatable team when they doubt (themselves)," said Chantome.

Marseille, who are a point behind PSG in third, visit Lorient in Saturday's early game seeking to build on Tuesday's 2-1 win over Saint-Etienne.

Joint-leading scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac could return for Marseille after the burly forward was back in training on Thursday following a toe problem, while Jeremie Aliadiere may be welcomed back into the Lorient line-up after a six-week injury lay-off.

Elsewhere, Lyon will seek to bounce back from a defeat to lowly Ajaccio when they host Lille, while Saint-Etienne are at home to Bastia and Rennes entertain Nantes in a local derby.

Valenciennes go to Sochaux, who are without a coach following the resignation of Eric Hely, in a bottom of the table clash.

Fixtures (kick-off 1800GMT unless stated)


Lorient v Marseille (1200GMT), Paris Saint-Germain v Toulouse (1500GMT),  

Evian TG v Bordeaux, Lyon v Lille, Nice v Guingamp, Saint-Etienne v Bastia, Sochaux v Valenciennes


Rennes v Nantes (1200GMT), Ajaccio v Montpellier (1500GMT), Reims v Monaco

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IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste

Torrential rain hit the city of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday and Monday, just days after local waste collectors ended a week-long strike, leading to fears of "catastrophic" waste making its way to the ocean.

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste
A man stands on a beach covered with cans following heavy rains and a strike of waste collectors in Marseille on October 5th. Photo: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP.

Marseille is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, which Météo France placed on red alert for heavy rain and flooding on Monday. Schools in the area shut and people were warned not to leave their homes as two months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in the Mediterranean city, after heavy rains had already caused flooding on Sunday night.

The situation was compounded by the fact that uncollected garbage was blocking storm drains in certain parts of the city – drains which would normally be cleared ahead of heavy rain – and making it more difficult for emergency services to intervene.

The city’s waste collectors had begun clearing the streets on Saturday after an agreement between unions and local authorities put an end to an eight-day strike over an increase to working hours.

But rain over the weekend made the monumental job even more difficult, and the result was that “rivers of rubbish” flowed through the city’s streets on Monday.

“Rubbish is everywhere. It’s a catastrophe,” biologist Isabelle Poitou, director of the MerTerre association, told AFP. “We’re expecting a strong mistral wind which will push the rubbish, which is currently making its way towards the sea, onto the beaches.”

“It’s vital to come and clear the rubbish from the beaches on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she added. “We need to act before the rubbish gets scattered in the sea at the first gust of wind.”

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille.

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille. Photo: Christophe SIMON / AFP.

The video below tweeted by BFMTV journalist Cédric Faiche shows the state of a beach in Marseille early on Tuesday morning. “It’s been cleaned several times but cans and different types of plastic continue to arrive…” Faiche wrote.

However, Faiche told BFM there are similar scenes every time there is heavy rain in Marseille, even if the strike has made the situation even worse.

Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin shared a video of the “sad scene” captured in Marseille on Sunday night. “Discussions between trade unions and the city must not make us forget what really matters: we are all responsible for our seas and our oceans!” she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Christine Juste, deputy mayor in charge of the environment in Marseille told BFM on Tuesday, criticising the “lack of reactivity” in collecting leftover rubbish following the end of the strike on Friday.

“Why wait so long? In the 6th arrondissement, there has been no collection since the announcement that the strike was over,” she said.

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis intercommunal structure, rather than city hall, is in charge of rubbish collection in Marseille.

On Monday morning, the Metropolis dispatched 650 workers to clear away as much waste as possible ahead of the heaviest rainfall which was forecast for the afternoon.

On Monday evening, Marseille’s Mayor Benoît Payan told franceinfo that 3,000 tonnes of garbage were still yet to be collected in the city. “I asked the Prime Minister this evening to class the zone as a natural disaster,” he added.