Controversy in Ligue 1: PSG v Marseille- a sending off, a missed penalty and 4 goals

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This past weekend in Ligue 1 was always going to be dominated by one: PSG v Marseille the fiercest rivalry in Ligue 1 that is more than just a game. In the end it was a game yet again won by PSG who ran out 3-1 winners in Paris and went 20 points ahead of 2nd placed Lille as a result and still have a game in hand of them.

Marseille were aiming not only for a top 3 place which would give them Champions League automatic qualification plus of course there would be bragging rights about becoming the first team to beat PSG in Paris in the league. It wasn’t to be but we were entertained to a thrilling game nonetheless, which as normal had its controversy.

In total 7 yellow cards were shown and in the 2nd half Marseille’s Steve Mandanda who has had an impressive season was shown the red card and sent off. Kylian Mbappe had opened the scoring but the hero for PSG in the absence of Neymar’s injury was Angel Di Maria who scored a fantastic brace.

Even with the game won at 3-1 there was still controversy to be had when Saki tripped Mbappe for a penalty which delayed the game somewhat. Mbappe then stepped up to take the penalty…… and missed! Nobody could have seen that coming, least Mbappe who was looking for his 26th goal of what has been an incredible season for the 20 year old.

Marseille coach Rudi Garcia had this to say about the game. “We have nothing to be ashamed of in this defeat. Up until Steve [Mandanda]‘s sending off we were playing a coherent match. We didn’t let PSG impose their game and we didn’t concede chances. But we didn’t have enough chances in the second half, and that’s where my regrets lie. We could have been more clinical and more enterprising in the final 30 metres. It was also tough to play an excellent first 45 minutes and then go into the break a goal down – it happened to us last season here in Paris as well.”

Garcia continued, “The negative point is that the lads who were here last season   haven’t learnt the lesson and that’s a shame. We need to grow in experience as we have a young team. Still, they did extremely well to equalise early in the second half, but unfortunately we couldn’t hang onto the 1-1 score line for long enough.”

Marseille are still in the hunt for a top 4 place but after Lyon’s win they have slipped 6 points behind with just 9 games remaining.

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Ligue 1- 11 Player Picks for the Weekend

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There is a full fixture list for Ligue 1 this weekend and whilst PSG will win the league this season there is still so much to be proven, won and lost from now until May. Who will get the other 2 places for the Champions League? And on Sunday night we will witness one of the grandest fixtures in European football when PSG take on in form Marseille. Below is our list of players to watch out for this weekend that you may want to add to your Ligue 1 Fantasy team.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Steve Mandanda 8.5m

Mandanda hasn’t always had it easy this season and that is why he is in 7th place in Ligue 1 fantasy standings. But his current form has been terrific where he has shipped just 2 goals in the past month or Marseille. He picked up 7pts last weekend and a good performance this weekend would see him into the top 5.

Defender: Yunis Abdelhamid 6m

The Reims defender has been in good form in the back four who have been able to keep a few clean sheets already in 2019 as the club are now in the top 5. Reims play Nantes at home, and we could well expect them to achieve another clean sheet against a side who are in 14th place.

Defender: Kenny Lala 5m

Lala has been an unsung hero of the defence of the Strasbourg team. While it is true that his defenders conceded 2 goals last weekend that was against Lyon. But they have a good chance to keep a clean sheet as they play newly promoted Nimes at the weekend and Lala who has 43pts already should be looked into.

Defender: Dante Costa 6.5m

Dante Costa won’t ‘costa’ you a lot and the Nice defender has already garnered 36pts this season. Nice are at home against Toulouse on Friday night where they will be the favourites to win and could well keep a clean sheet, helping Costa’s cause.

Defender: Thiago Silva 9.5m

The PSG talisman has proven himself to be one of the best defenders in Ligue 1. PSG play Marseille at the weekend in a game which could go either way when we look at recent form. At the same time history tells us this might be a very difficult match for Marseille and PSG may be able to keep a clean sheet. Silva is 9.5m but has scored a massive 61pts so far.

Midfielder: Maxime Lopez 5m

Maxime Lopez has just got on with what he needs to do at Marseille and whilst he only has 29pts in midfield, he remains a luxury player at a good price of 5m that can change a game. Marseille do have a difficult match against PSG but they will be 100% focused as they try to reach 3rd place in the standings. He is more adept at assists than scoring goals.

Midfielder: Thiago Mendes 7m

Mendes has been very solid for Lille this season in the middle of the football pitch and Lille will be taking on Monaco who have struggled this season even though they are playing much better now. But Lille at home should be able to ease to victory and Mendes could be a key player.

Midfielder: Xavier Chavalerin 6m

Chavalerin is just 6m and has done very well for his team Reims this season starting 26 games. Reims have been a revelation and remain a strong contender for European football and are playing an average form team in Nantes this weekend. In recent months the player has scored a few goals and assisted well. He could be worth a pick this weekend for his price.

Midfielder: Younousse Sankhare 8m

Looking at his season the Bordeaux midfielder Sankhare looks overpriced but he is the type of player that can make teams of the weekend and he might be able to help his club when they will be at home to Rennes. Rennes will be tired after the Arsenal game in the Europa League and Bordeaux could take advantage of that. Plus Sankhare has assisted in 3 goals this season.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe 8m

Pepe is excellent value to add to your team as he has been one of the best strikers in Ligue 1 this season. We will pick him because he is in form and will face the defence of Monaco who have been less than impressive this season. He has 84pts and has scored 17 goals this season and assisted in 8.

Striker: Gaetan Laborde 5m

Laborde is just 5m and the Montpellier striker has scored 10 goals this season and is always a danger and attacking player. Montpellier play play Lyon but Lyon have been shipping goals lately which could work out for Laborde and he should be looked into.

Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here www.fantasyligue1.com  

 

 

 

 

The rise of the talented central midfielders from outside of the Premier League top-six

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The top-six of the Premier League are blessed with a large number of central midfielders, with the likes of David Silva, Fernandinho, N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba seen as the main and obvious ones around. These individuals have shown their quality for their respective teams over the last couple of years, whether it’s with their attacking contributions or their ability defend in front of the backline.

The midfield department has become a very demanding position, where many of the top clubs in Europe aim to have enough quality and depth in order to compete in all competitions effectively. Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are good examples, three clubs that have the players available on and off the bench to take control of the game and to importantly dominate it.

Now, it is time to look at the talented central midfielders from outside of the Premier League top-six, those who play a crucial role for their sides and are expected to become a wanted man from the end of the season till the final days of the 2019 summer transfer window. For sure, it is still early days to consider these key players, but some individuals have been really impressive in recent months.

With no further ado, here are the central midfielders that deserve more appreciation and credit…

Abdoulaye Doucoure

Javi Garcia’s Watford are enjoying a top notch of a season in the Premier League, because of how consistent they are in front of goal and how they are expected to break a personal record of the most points they have picked up in a single campaign before the current term comes to an end. And one of the main players that have allowed this to happen is Abdoulaye Doucoure, thanks to his technical ability and intelligence on and off the ball as well as his displays in the middle of the pitch.

Since his arrival to England from French side Rennes, he has shown his composure and quality in the centre of midfield alongside Etienne Capoue, where he completes the required interceptions and tackles in his own half to helping the side attack quickly through his dribbling ability and his burst of pace. Thanks to his positive mindset and attacking mentality, it allows the team to strive forward and to press high up the pitch whilst making sure that the goals don’t come only from the attackers.

Andre Gomes

Majority of the Premier League supporters would see Andre Gomes as a player that had failed to succeed the expectations that he once had at Barcelona, and he is now trying to revive his professional career in another country and league. However, Everton took a massive punt on him in the summer, and have reaped the rewards but are waiting to receive it consistently, due to the fact that he has had some minor injury issues and some difficulties in settling into the dressing room.

Nevertheless, the 25-year-old has regained fine form and reportedly expected to move to Goodison Park in the summer on a permanent basis, which instantly sums up the influence he has on Marco Silva’s midfield and how they are more proactive and efficient when he is in starting line-up. Without his range of passing and approach of how to control and dictate play, the Toffees would struggle to break the opposition’s defence down and would face a lot of defensive problems on the counter.

 

 

James Ward-Prowse

Despite Southampton’s below par season over the last two to three campaigns, James Ward-Prowse and his rise has been one of the most popular stories at St Mary’s Stadium. Having evidently proven himself on both sides of the pitch, he is also one of the few leaders that the Saints respectively have within the squad. On top of that, he has the incredible ability to pull off some insane free-kicks, which he did so against both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur over the last two weeks.

If he was playing for one of the top sides in the Premier League, he would be easily getting into the England squad and would have been a serious candidate in the midfield role of Gareth Southgate’s team. For the time being, he still has a lot of time to improve as a player and will have the perfect timeframe to review any potential offers that may come his way, given that he is in need of two more consistent seasons before deciding to move to Arsenal, Liverpool or Tottenham Hotspur.

Ruben Neves

The main focus of this term has been Wolverhampton Wanderers and how they have turned up against the best teams in the league, where they have picked up victories against Chelsea at home, Tottenham away and crucial stalemates versus Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. Players such as Diogo Jota, Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez have played the key role in Nuno Espirito Santo’s team, but it’s Ruben Neves who has stolen the media headlines and English press coverage.

With how the Portuguese international has been performing so far this Premier League term, it almost feels like he has been playing in the top flight of English football for quite a long time. Being a physical player off the ball and in the air, he has the ideal ability to distribute the ball that the full-backs and wingers look for from a midfielder. Also, he is another great player that is a dead ball specialist, whilst having the much needed understanding to play in any of the tactical role in midfield.

Ligue 1: Player of the Week: Angel Di Maria

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There were several players that performed well this past weekend in Ligue 1 including Marquinhos for PSG, Moussa Dembele for Lyon and Ludovic Ajorque for Strasbourg. But our pick goes to Angel Di Maria for league leaders PSG who put in a terrific display ahead of what has been a difficult couple of weeks for the Paris club following their Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United.

Di Maria picked up the joint most points for the week with 8 after his performance against Dijon which saw the champions increase their lead at the top to 17 points over 2nd placed Lille.

So how did Di Maria pick up his points for the week? It was a match that PSG ended up winning 4-0 away from home against relegation threatened Dijon and it only took 7 minutes for PSG to take the lead. It was Di Maria’s perfect cross which set up Marquinhos to open the scoring for the away side.

Soon after Kylian Mbappe arguably the best centre forward in Europe right now doubled the lead for the club, so PSG had gone in at 2-0 for half time. The 3rd goal followed five minutes into the second period and it was a goal to finish the game off and secure the win for PSG and it came from Di Maria. The Argentinian had now scored a goal and set one up for an all round fantastic display.

Overall this season Di Maria has scored 7 goals and assisted 9 times which is the best assist record in Ligue 1 this season. He’s currently in 5th position in Fantasy Ligue 1 standings, with all positions considered which is a remarkable statistic and he is 40 points behind his team mate in 1st place Kylian Mbappe who has of course picked up most of his points through virtue of being the league’s top goal scorer.

As midfielders go Di Maria sits in 2nd place and is 7 points behind Marseille’s Florian Thauvin. Whilst Thauvin has scored 6 more goals than Di Maria this season he has assisted in three less goals than him.

Apart from the goals and natural skill of Di Maria, the Argentina international has really curbed his temper and it has stood out and served PSG well. For example since the beginning of the season Di Maria has been booked just once, which is another remarkable statistic. It has meant that he hasn’t had to miss a run of games through disciplinary problems and has always been available for the club unless of an injury.

In the Ligue 1 Fantasy standings his showing over the week has risen by 2.19% and he can be brought into your team for 9m. This looks like a good deal given how many points he can pick up with assists and given the fact that he rarely drops points with a near clean record of yellow cards. You can add Di Maria to your team by going to the link below. Get playing!

Think you know all about Ligue 1 players and the French League? Play the most popular Fantasy Ligue 1 game https://ligue1fantasy.com

 

Topical: Ligue 1 Lille continue to make strides as Reims edge into Europe

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The 28th week of Ligue 1 was another exciting one and we should start with league leaders PSG who gladly had the weekend off after they were knocked out of the Champions League against Manchester United. Their game against Nantes was postponed to a later date.

That gave Lille an opportunity to close the gap on the French champions which they did with a hard fought 1-0 win over Saint Etienne. For many this was the game of the weekend as the two top 5 teams went head to head. It ended with Nicolas Pepe grabbing the winner for Lille with just three minutes left and then Saint Etienne ended the game with 9 players as frustrations took over the game. Despite the win Lille are still 14 points behind PSG and PSG have 2 games in hand.

Lyon maintained 3rd position but it was not a good weekend for the club who slipped 7 points behind Lille and an automatic qualification for the Champions League. They could only draw 2-2 away to Strasbourg. The draw also means that Marseille have caught up to Lyon as they try and take the last remaining Champions League place away.

Marseille were involved in a South of France derby as they took on Nice and it was inevitable who was going to get the winning goal. The one and only Mario Balotelli. The Italian who moved from Nice to Marseille in January has been in great form for the home side. Nice manager Patrick Vieira was humble in defeat and even had time to give Balotelli a warm hug, but the defeat would have hurt the former Arsenal player. As for Marseille they have won 4 games from their past 5.

With Saint Etienne losing to Lille it means that Reims entered dizzying heights and moved into the top 5. This position would be enough to secure a Europa League place if PSG win the Coupe de France. Though there is a long way to go it was a moment of clarity for such an historic team in France and it would be special to see the team in a European competition once again. They drew 1-1 away to Dijon, and have drawn their last two games and if they are starting to dream big they will have to start winning games more consistently.

The feel good factor continued at Rennes this past weekend. After the club beat Arsenal 3-1 in the last 16 of the Europa League they repeated that trick and won by the same score line against Caen to move past Nice and into 8th place.

The race for Europe is hotting up with a possible 5 places at stake and at least 9 teams in with a shout, the final straight of Ligue 1 is upon us and it should be very exciting indeed. PSG play their game in hand against Dijon on Tuesday, March 12th.

Think you know all about Ligue 1 players and the French League? Play the most popular Fantasy Ligue 1 game https://ligue1fantasy.com

 

Is Zidane the right choice for Real Madrid?

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No one could’ve predicted a scenario that saw Zinedine Zidane take over the Real Madrid hotseat just 10 months after he left it, but that’s precisely what’s happened in the aftermath of Los Blancos sacking their second coach this season, Santiago Solari.

The reasons could be many and though he’s not short of a euro or two, financial considerations will surely have played a huge part.

A promise from Florentino Perez that certain players will arrive or that Zidane will have a war chest of cash to go out and buy the very best is likely to be another. Continue reading

Controversy in Ligue 1 as Saint Etienne lose the plot against league rivals Lille

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The match between Saint Etienne and Lille was billed as match of the weekend in Ligue 1 given the teams standings. It was 5th v 2nd and 2nd one.

Saint Etienne have really punched above their weight this season and looked odds on for a European place and maybe even a Champions League one, but recent form had dipped before having to meet Lille who have been a revelation this season. Though Lille will not win the league as they are 14 points behind PSG and have played two games more they are eyeing 2nd place.

The game was a frantic one but was littered with 6 yellow cards and then Lille grabbed the game just as it looked like it was heading for a 0-0. Tensions had already been strong beforehand but when one of the starlets of the season Nicolas Pepe scored for Lille with just three minutes remaining you could have heard a pin drop in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

With only one team realistically going to win from there on, the problems started. And it felt like the Argentina team level problems from the 1990 World Cup final when a few Saint Etienne players simply lost the plot.

Not one but two players would be sent off and the chaos of course simply played into Lille’s hands. The first to go was Mathieu Debauchy whose frustrations were taken out through un sport man like conduct and he wen 250 seconds after Pepe’s goal for a second bookable offence. But the embarrassment wasn’t over for the home side yet.

Striker Wahbi Khazri lost the plot in the 4th minute of injury time as his side had a chance to score and level everything up. He ended up receiving a straight red which will be a massive miss for his club who rely on his goals, and now he is set to miss at least 3 games in a row as the club try to home on in a European finish.

Despite this setback Saint Etienne coach Jean-Louis Gasset tried to remain optimistic. “We knew Lille were a stronger and faster team on the break. We were lucky not to take a hiding in the first half, but then at the end we were pushing for a winner and lost it on the counterattack with three minutes left. The two sendings-off will handicap our squad which is already affected by injuries.”

Gasset continued: “We wanted to get back on track after the match at Marseille. We tried, but we were clumsy and not good enough technically. There was a bit of frustration after the goal. Our European hopes are not over. We have lost to the three teams – Paris, Lyon and Lille – who are fighting for the Champions League. We have lost to teams who are stronger than us. Now we will try to remobilise everyone. Not everything is to be thrown away, even if we have not been playing as well since January now.”

Play the most popular Ligue 1 Fantasy game here: www.fantasyligue1.com and invite your friends too!

 

Valverde has to rest Barcelona’s big hitters now

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After another dominant El Clasico performance, and with the Champions League once again the priority, Ernesto Valverde must start tinkering with his squad.

His ‘safety first’ approach will need to take a back seat in a handful of the next few league games as Barca go for it in the European competition.

Though the Catalans can still conceivably be caught in La Liga, both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are far enough behind for the Blaugrana to have a blip and still remain as leaders. Continue reading

How Lille’s ownership spent wisely in Ligue 1 for Champions League football

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One of the biggest success stories in France’s Ligue 1 this season has to be Lille. The club are no strangers to success this decade after they won the league and cup double in 2011, but that was their first league success in 57 years. But this season has been the clubs strongest since then and they have dabbled in the transfer market last summer spending 1/10th what many European superpowers spend to get into the top 4 and Champions League.

Currently Lille are in 2nd place and while they are 17 points behind league leaders PSG they are also 5 points ahead of Lyon. But how have Lille improved over recent seasons?

Lille brought in 16 players in the transfer window spending £48m doing so, that is an average of 3m per player, incredible business in 2018/19 and to further that they were clever as the average age of the players is 25, not too old or young and just in their prime.

And the club made a profit this season on players as they sold on 20 players and got £54m making a clear profit of £6m. Their highest sale was Yves Bissouma who went to Premier League side Brighton for £17m. And the clubs biggest spend was Jonathan Ikone who came from PSG for less than £5m. Lille have been incredibly business minded, spotting talent but refusing to pay through the nose for it.

Many players for Lille came back on loan but some of their best buys have been Jose Fonte who has been terrific in defence this season and was bought from China, sure he was 34 and a possible risk but for less than £2m he has brought with him bags of experience. Jonathan Bamba came on a free transfer from Saint Etienne at just 22 and has been another integral part of the squad.

Manager Christophe Galtier has been able to identify who he needed and in what position and has made the most of it with a tight budget in only his 2nd season with the club. Owner Gerard Lopez has been clever enough to give Galtier a chance at coaching Lille, not because his resume is brimming with trophies or that he has years of experience but because Galtier was a former player who played almost 100 times for the club in the 1990s. This project is about bringing a togetherness to the club and rooting it in older players having a chance to come back and prove themselves.

Lopez bought Lille in 2016 with a project of getting to the Champions League, which the club are now on course to do 3 years later. The key has been how they have sold for more and bought for less. On a lower scale Lille have played the market much like Monaco and it is bringing with it much success.

Can Lille get a  Champions League place this season? The odds look good. Not only are they 5 points clear of Lyon, but even if they slipped to 3rd that would still be good to qualify for the qualifiers. But it is all about getting that automatic place. Lille have been 2nd for most of the season and it would seem cruel if Lyon swallowed up that chance in the final straight.

For now Lille look good for 2nd- a great ownership that has blossomed in just a few seasons and a tight way of working on limited budgets has actually brought the team together, and pound for pound Lille have proven to be the most improved team in France this season.

Play the most popular Ligue 1 Fantasy game here: www.fantasyligue1.com and invite your friends too!

 

 

Ligue 1- 11 Player Picks for the Weekend

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Ligue 1 is back at the weekend although instead of the usual 10 fixtures there will only be 9 with Nantes and PSG’s game being postponed for the following week. Below we will look at players that you should look into and add for your fantasy Ligue 1 team.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Mike Maignan- 5m

Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan has been solid throughout the season but is experiencing arguably his best form, the shot stopper has conceded just 1 goal in the club’s past five matches as they look to hold onto 2nd place in Ligue 1.

Defender: Malang Sarr- 5.5m

Sarr has been one of the outstanding players to come out of Ligue 1 this season. The Nice defender picked up 5pts last weekend and is in the top 4 as his club have got back to winning ways.

Defender: Jose Fonte -7.5m

Fonte has been part of the Lille side to concede just 1 goal in their past five games that goes back to the beginning of February, he has been instrumental and with his value under 8m is a real steal.

Defender: Hiroki Sakai- 7.5m

Sakai has been part of a Marseille defence that has grown stronger since the turn of the year and part of a back four that has conceded just 2 goals in their last five games. He currently has 33pts and if form continues could break into the top 10 standings in Ligue 1 fantasy for defenders.

Defender: Dante Costa- 6.5m

Solid at the back for Nice in the teams last game, the club needed a win and will hope to improve on that this weekend. Plus he picked up a massive 5pts last weekend and the confidence seems to have returned for the player.

Midfielder: Florian Thauvin- 11m

Probably the best out and out midfielder this season in France, he is also experiencing great form as his club Marseille have bounced back into contention, and he picked up 8pts last time out.

Midfielder: Bertrand Traore-8.5m

The Lyon midfielder has put in a shift this season with his great passing abilities and he has scored 7 times, his 8.5m looks like a snip and last weekend he picked up 5pts as Lyon try to chase down Lille for 2nd place.

Midfielder: Flavien Tait-7.5m

Angers have no problems to stay up this season and much of that is down to Tait who is in great form and picked up 8pts over the week. He continues to be a threat for opposing players and has made an incredible 6 assists so far this season.

Midfielder: Nabil Fekir- 10m

One of the best players in Ligue 1 last season is continuing that in this one and he has been instrumental for Marseille’s return of form in the last few months. He is in form and usually takes the penalties for the club, so could gain you more points this weekend.

Striker: Moussa Dembele- 5m

An absolute steal this season for 5m, Dembele has been very solid as a forward for Lyon and scored a brace last time out. He is on form and has scored 9 goals over the past few months and could well get on the score sheet again this weekend.

Striker: Radamel Falcao- 7.5m

There have been some injuries and a lack of form mostly for his club Monaco. But since Leonardo Jardim came back to the coaching job there has been a fire ignited in Falcao once again and he is back on form. Last week he earned 7pts and has scored 11 goals this season despite Monaco’s troubled campaign.

Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here www.fantasyligue1.com