Strasbourg forward Ludovic Ajorque has beaten Lille star Nicolas Pepe to the title of Ligue 1’s outstanding player from matchday 32, despite the latter helping his side to a sensational 5-1 victory over champions-elect Paris Saint-Germain.
Opta correlates the performances of every player in France’s top flight in each match and gives them a mark out of 100 to quantify the quality of their performance in any given game.
With a score of 96.7, no player can boast a better weekend than Ajorque, who put the disappointment of being left on the bench in the recent Coupe de la Ligue final to spearhead Strasbourg’s charge in an attractive 3-3 draw against Guingamp.
Racing are the league’s joint second top scorers with Lille, and Ajorque showcased their strength in depth with a double against the Bretons. Although somewhat ungainly, he is a true predator of the penalty box, which was showcased as he steered in two crosses for Thierry Laurey’s side.
If Ajorque was the league’s outstanding player, then Pepe was the most eye-catching. In the showpiece game of the weekend, the Ivory Coast international made it his mission to shine against PSG.
After winning the foul that resulted in Juan Bernat’s dismissal in the first half, he continued to get in behind the PSG defence in the second, adding the decisive blow with a cool finish. Then he showed his technical qualities in the closing stages as two wicked deliveries – one for Gabriel and the other for Jose Fonte – allowed LOSC to pull away from the beleaguered champions.
If there was any doubt about Pepe’s ability to mix it with Europe’s best sides, that has surely been dispelled thanks to his performance on Sunday.
Jonathan Bamba, Pepe's partner in crime, was also in the scoresheet and finished an impressive seventh in the standings as the pace of Lille’s forward players proved too much for the Parisians.
The former France player has had an injury-hit campaign but scored twice for Les Verts as they improved their European prospects by bagging a comfortable 3-0 home win over Bordeaux, his former club. Both arrived from corners, with the first a thumping header and the second a deft finish at the near post after a well-timed run.
Coming in fourth was Luiz Gustavo, who has been forced to fight for his place in the Marseille side of late. Brought back into the team by Rudi Garcia for a tricky home fixture against Nimes, he capped OM’s 2-0 victory with a fine shot from range.
Martin Terrier has known similar problems at Lyon, but after netting in each of the last four matches he is one player at the out-of-sorts Rhone club actually in good form. His curling shot brought them level against Nantes only for a late free-kick from Anthony Limbombe to trump Bruno Genesio’s side. Both men have made the Top 10 this week, Terrier in fifth and Limbombe in ninth.
Montpellier’s two scorers in their 2-1 win over Toulouse, Ellyes Skhiri and Souleymane Camara, have entered the ranking in sixth and eighth respectively, while former Arsenal youngster Jeff Reine-Adelaide is 10th, having scored his third goal in two games, having previously never netted in the league before.
While PSG were made to wait on the title for a second time, the delay is likely to last only until Wednesday, when a point against Nantes would be sufficient for them to finally get over the line before a Sunday meeting with Monaco at Parc des Princes in the big game next week.
Lille and Pepe, meanwhile, will seek to further cement second when they face Toulouse, while the battle for the other spots remains as open as ever.