Ever since he became the first-choice goalkeeper at Olympique Lyonnais, Hugo Lloris has been considered France’s undisputed Number 1 choice. However, this season it looks like the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa at Marseille, the Tottenham Hotspur ‘keeper is going to have a genuine challenger for the No. 1 jersey in Steve Mandanda.
It was a horrible end to the season for Mandanda. He was all set to take his place as France’s back-up for Lloris at the World Cup in Brazil. But on the final day of the season, he picked up a horrible injury to his back and neck, missing the tournament in the summer.
Last season there were many questions being asked over why Mandanda was still the No. 2 choice keeper for the international setup and that the injury was a blessing in disguise. This season, under the influence of Argentine coach Bielsa, Mandanda has bounced back from injury and is looking again like the top-class ‘keeper that caught the attention of Arsenal and Manchester United a few years ago.
Marseille’s strong start has been attributed to the free-flowing attack. They have scored 14 goals in six games and look like the best forward-line in the league at the moment.
They have also only conceded six goals this season, two of which came in a horrible home defeat to Montpellier in Week 2; another three came in a 3-3 draw on the opening day against Reims.
Since Week 3, Mandanda has only let in one goal and the plaudits are starting to arrive. Against Rennes on Saturday, Mandanda made two excellent saves with the game locked at 0-0, Marseille would go on to win 3-1 at the Stade Velodrome and Mandanda’s role should not go unnoticed.
If Lloris was under no pressure with Mandanda playing underneath his full potential, now with the 29-year-old looking to be back to his best the pressure will be on Didier Deschamps to give the Marseille man a chance if Lloris’s form dips this campaign.
Competition for places should bring out the best in both goalkeepers, so Mandanda’s return to form should be good news for Spurs fans this season.