One of the greatest sights in football is to see a perfectly executed free-kick bend into the top corner of the net. On Sunday, Florian Thauvin provided a brilliant example of such a moment, breaking Amiens’ hearts as he led Marseille to a 3-1 victory that keeps them very much in the hunt for a Champions League place next season.
OM had impressed in the first half of that encounter, fighting back after the loss of an early goal, with Thauvin very much at the forefront. Indeed, he had dragged his side level, cutting in off the right wing before sending a low shot through a pack of bodies and into the corner of the net.
It was in the second period, though, that the former Newcastle man showed his match-winning quality with a brilliant set piece to give his side the victory with 10 minutes remaining. To cap a memorable display, he completed his hat-trick in stoppage time.
Given these heroics, it is little surprise that he tops this week’s Opta Index, which measures the performance of every player in Ligue 1.
He was not the only former Newcastle man among the Top 10, however. Hatem Ben Arfa, who enjoyed his share of magic moments with the Toon, has sneaked in at sixth, having performed admirably for Rennes during their 2-2 draw against Montpellier.
Certainly, there was a hint of luck about the way his shot was deflected into the net to open the scoring early on, but after a slow start for the Breton side, there were signs of his old brilliance returning.
The former PSG player was, however, outshone in that encounter by Andy Delort, whose remarkable scoring form continued for Montpellier. Twice he was at his predatory best to score, levelling the game shortly before the break when he pounced on a rebound and then tapping home after a slick move soon after the restart.
While Delort’s double salvo was enough to carry him to third on the ranking, Allan Saint-Maximin beat him into second with a terrific display later on Sunday as he led Nice to a 2-0 victory over Lille.
The attacker buzzed dangerously throughout the game and was rewarded for his busy display by wrapping the points up late on with a deflected effort.
Adrien Rabiot has found himself in the news regularly of late and showed his worth to PSG with a solid performance against Toulouse on Saturday. The midfielder might not have signed a contract extension with the capital club, but he was at his steady best as they picked up three points, despite being without both Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
At the other end of the table, there was relief for Thierry Henry and Monaco as they picked up a vital 1-0 win over Caen, and their display was adequate for two of their stars to make the Top 10 of this ranking.
Radamel Falcao was their match winner with a nice free-kick in the second half, but Youri Tielemans laid a solid foundation for the team to be built around in the heart of the pitch. It was a deserved win and much of the credit should go to this pair.
Fellow strugglers Angers were held 1-1 by Nantes, yet the outcome could have been far more severe had goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle not produced heroics. His efforts are sufficient for him to claim 10th spot on the ranking, yet the man who ultimately got the better of him, Majeed Waris, has made seventh after a crucial cameo appearance.
Completing the Top 10 this week is Reims youngster Boulaye Dia, who had an evening to remember on Saturday as he came off the bench for the Champagne club and struck what proved the winner against bottom team Guingamp with a fine left-footed effort from the edge of the area.
He will be hopeful of having a similarly big impact when Reims go to Marseille next Sunday before Bordeaux host PSG. However, the big match of the weekend sees Lille host Lyon on Saturday in what promises to be an important match in the Champions League race.