The French Ligue 1 has seen a long overdue resurgence over the last two seasons mainly due to the non-dominance of Olympique Lyonnais. Their seven successive titles, beginning in 2002, brought a certain stagnation to a league that finds itself out with the higher echelons of Europe’s best domestic competitions.
The current title chase is wide open with a possible six teams vying for the right to be the champions of France. Bordeaux, the 2009 champions, are currently the top of the pile although the likes of Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais are clipping at the heels of the defending champions.
In recent years, the golden boot in Ligue 1 has been won by respected players, such as Portugese stirker, Pauleta, Karim Benzema who became one of Real Madrid’s galacticos after his goalscoring performance in the 2008/2009 season for Olympique Lyonnais.
Mamadou Niang of Olmpique de Marseille is currently heading the scoring charts after an impressive season last year’s runners up in the league. His 15 goals in 26 games is the benchmark for the rest of the hitmen chasing the Senegal international. Niang’s career has centered around the French Ligue 1 with spells at Troyes, Metz and Strasbourg but he seems to have found his form later on in his career, because at the age of 30, Niang has the chance to win a Golden Boot for the first time in his professional career.
Jesus Mama!: Mamadou Niang leads the scoring charts with 15 goals for Olympique Marseille
Niang’s chance of winning the Golden Boot in France requires him, and Olympique Marseille to sustain their present form for the remaining twelve games of the season. With Niang’s undoubted inexperience in this situation, Olympique Lyonnais’ summer signing, Lisandro Lopez has previous for winning Golden Boot awards.
The Argentinian played for Racing Club in his native country where he was the league’s top scorer in 2004. This kind of form earned him a move to FC Porto where he repeated his goalscoring feat in 2008, along with being the fourth top goalscorer in the Champions League in the same season. Lopez’s tally of 11 goals in 21 games puts him only four behind Mamadou Niang with the crucial period of the season just beginning.
Lopez: The hitman is looking for his third Golden Boot, this time in France
With the two candidates so far being out and out strikers for their respective clubs, AS Monaco midfielder Nene requires a special mention due to him notching up 13 goals so far this campaign. The Brazilian was shipped out on loan for the last season at La Liga side Espanyol but this season he was recalled and made an immediate impact scoring nine in his first ten games for the principality club.
Although he is not close to the likes of Nene, Lopez and Niang in terms of goals, Marouane Chamakh has extra motivation via the watching eyes of Arsene Wenger. Wenger’s interest in the Moroccan international might be the catalyst for this talented young striker having a storming end to his and Bordeuax’s season, with a possible lucrative move to the English Premier League in the waiting.
Although the title of French champions to the possible six remaning teams is the most important prize, the respective strikers involved in the Golden Boot race can have a direct effect on the outcome of the title by propelling themselves to the top of the scorer’s chart. The big question is, who is going to step up to the plate?
The relative inexperience of Mamadou Niang in the art of scoring regularly seems to have been put on the back burners this year by the Senegalese international which gives him a real chance of scooping this year’s Golden Boot especially as he holds a two goal advantage over Brazilian midfielder, Nene who despite impressing with 13 goals this season, it was a rampant beginning to the season that put the AS Monaco midfielder in contention for the coveted Golden Boot. With AS Monaco out of the title race and Nene’s form diminishing since the turn of the new year, it will be a tough task to overcome the stirkers whose sides are competing for the French Ligue 1 title.
The key word throughout has been experience which Mamadou Niang and Nene do not possess at this level of finding the net regularly, which is why my pick for finishing with the most goals in the 2009/2010 season is Lisandro Lopez. The bullish, powerful and the relentless nature of Lopez’ play coupled with Olympique Lyonnais mounting a serious title challenge, the Argentinian, despite being four goals behind the current leader, Mamadou Niang, he is the favourite to lift his 3rd Golden Boot in France.