Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Benoit Costil

Benoit Costil’s career will always be remembered by his time at Rennes but since 2017 he has been guarding the goal of Bordeaux and this past season he had a decent campaign with Bordeaux finishing in the top half of the league and for him he finished 7th with 35 points.

During the season he kept 9 clean sheets which was impressive for the 32 year old and he ended up being the only goal keeper from the top 9 in Ligue 1 that was neither sent off or booked for the whole season.

Costil’s went into last season with a value of 8m. While Bordeaux struggled at times, they did find enough form at one point in the season to think they could challenge for a Europa League finish but it quickly became evident that it couldn’t be the case for this year.

Costil started the season with by earning -4 points in his opening two games as the club kept conceding goals. In fact it wouldn’t get easier for him at the beginning of the season as in the next games Bordeaux beat Monaco but conceded with that match finishing 2-1 and the following game ended in a 2-0 loss to Rennes. The next match was a thriller but for Costil it did his points total no favours as Bordeaux drew 3-3 with Nimes. The next match ended in a 3-1 win over Guingamp but again Bordeaux had conceded. It meant that Costil did not earn any positive points until his 7th game of the season. But once he started he couldn’t at least for a while stop.

The great run begun when Bordeaux beat Lille and Costil kept 3 clean sheets in a row to earn 21 points. While he would gain some more consistency it was this run which started at the end of September and ran until the first week of October that ended up being the goal keeper’s best run of the season.

His single worst game points was against Nimes, Saint Etienne and Lyon were in those fixtures he earned -4 points on each occasion.

Costil ended the season much like he had begun it and earned no points in his last 6 games with a total points haul of -10.

This wasn’t a great season for Costil, although in some games he was outstanding, but Bordeaux simply were not strong enough and it showed. Still Costil beat his total from the season before which was 31,and he will be hoping to improve in the points stakes and try to keep a few more clean sheets next season.

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Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Stephane Ruffier

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Saint Etienne played some wonderful football this past season, so good in fact that some media compared them to the great side of the 1970s that somehow made a nation fall in love with them for a few years. In the end their hard work paid off and they qualified for the Europa League and goalkeeper Stephan Ruffier was a key component to the clubs success this season.

Ruffier collected 58 points and finished in 5th place in the European Fantasy League Ligue 1 rankings for goalkeepers. In fact only 4 points separated him from finishing in 3rd.

The 32 year old has been at Saint Etienne for 8 years and made almost 300 appearances for the club, making 37 starts from 38 in the league this past season. While the club did concede 40 goals under Ruffier he also made 13 clean sheets the 4th best in the league. Disciplinary was good too with just one yellow card all season and his value going into the season was 7.5m which looks to have been a bargain.

It’s interesting to note that Ruffier picked up his one booking of the season in the first game of the campaign, but because he did so and because Saint Etienne conceded in both of their opening games he started matchday 3 with -1 points.

His season really kicked off against Montpellier when the teams played out a 0-0 draw at Stade de la Mosson but that earned Ruffier a clean sheets total of 7 points.

Ruffier’s most consistent period came just at the right time when Saint Etienne also known as the Verts (greens because of their shirts) went 3 games in a row without conceding a goal in April. And this form was key to the club making a European place and fighting off the likes of Marseille and Montpellier and for a time Reims.

The games came thick and fast and started with a 3-0 win over Bordeaux. Nobody gave Saint Etienne much chance away to Reims in their next game but they went there and won 2-0 and finished off their trilogy of matches with a 2-0 win over Toulouse and Ruffier earned a whopping 21 points in those three matches.

Ruffier’s worst points total was inevitably in Paris when PSG the reigning champions beat them 4-0 and as a result he ended up with -6 points.

His last two seasons have seen him earn much less than he did in this one, and he has improved significantly showing signs of perhaps getting back to his 2014 season best. His value looks sure to rise as he nears completing 10 years with the club that is clearly in his heart and now he will be back in European football for next season.

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Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Wahbi Khazri

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Wahbi Khazri was one of the delights of Ligue 1 football this past season and his quality in midfield helped fire his club Saint Etienne into a Europa League finish. He also finished with his highest points tally in European Fantasy League thus far with 74 points, and joined only four other players in midfield in Ligue 1 who were able to score 70 or more points.

Khazri has played for five clubs over an 11 year career which started at Bastia, to date playing for Bastia is still his longest stint at one club which lasted for five years. After that spell he switched to Bordeaux for two seasons and then made the move to the Premier League signing for Sunderland. Despite having a decent season in the north of England he wasn’t scoring enough goals for the club, just 3 in 38 league games plus he was obviously missing being in France and was loaned out to Rennes before Saint Etienne spotted his talents and bought him.

In his debut season for Saint Etienne Khazri has done well scoring 13 goals and assisting in another six meaning that he has been involved in 19 of the clubs 59 goals.

Khazri started the season by picking up 4 points as he scored a goal in Saint Etienne’s 2-1 win over Guingamp. The midfielder’s best game was against Monaco when his club won 2-0. Not only did he score both goals but because a clean sheet was obtained too he picked up 10 points.

Khazri’s most consistent and best period begun at the end of November when Saint Etienne were paired with Nantes and ended in mid January. In this time frame Khazri played in five games and gained points in every one of those matches. It was a fine period for the player that saw him score goals and make crucial assists as Saint Etienne started to believe that they could chase a European place. In that time he got 28 points.

The one problem for the 28 year old was his short temper which landed him with 10 yellow cards throughout the season and 1 red card. With better discipline he could have ended up earning easily another 10-15 points.

In the end Khazri helped Saint Etienne to reach the Europa League and it will be interesting to see if he stays around. He should do but his career suggests that he will be on the move soon. At the same time he has just had his personal best season as a football player so the thinking is that he will be fine at this club.

His value this season started at 7.5m, and that could be set to rise for the beginning of next season after his impressive return from midfield.

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Ligue 1 Player of the Week: Mathieu Debuchy

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Mathieu Debuchy is the Ligue 1 Fantasy player of the week after he collected a whopping 13 points at the weekend as his side Saint Etienne beat Bordeaux 3-0 in a one sided game.

Points were immediately earned for the 33 year old defender as Saint Etienne not only won the game but also kept a clean sheet. But that was just the cusp of things to come for the player who maximised his points tally at the weekend by scoring not one but two second half goals.

Debuchy has scored 4 goals this season but getting half of those goals in one game was obviously a special moment for the player. The former Arsenal player finally joined up with Saint Etienne at the beginning of 2018 and has been a rock in defence for the team. However because of injuries he has only been able to start 18 games this season and earn just 33 points in the process. His value is rated at 7.5m and at this moment he wouldn’t make the top 20 defenders in the league in Fantasy Ligue 1 but that could be set to change with another couple of performances like this for his club before the end of the season.

Saint Etienne still have the hope of Champions League football which would be a glorious return for Debuchy given that he has already had that experience with Arsenal. Saint Etienne are just 3 points behind 3rd placed Lyon to finish in a position where they would then have to participate in a play off to get to the competition proper. More realistically a Europa League spot should be for the club but they have given themselves a chance of appearing in Europe’s elite competition after securing 2 clean sheets in their last five games and remaining unbeaten in their last four.

As for the goals at the weekend, Debuchy’s first was set up by former Bordeaux player Wahbi Khazri whose cross was met by Debuchy’s head for a fine goal. Debuchy added his 2nd in the final minute after a cross from Pierre-Yves Polomat with the game already won.

Saint Etienne coach Jean-Louis Gasset praised Debuchy’s performance and said: “The players showed great spirit, led by Mathieu Debuchy. I saw him limping and suffering, and then he came back on and scored twice. We do this job to work with people like him. There are still 18 points to play for, and if we continue playing like that we will keep moving forward. Let’s see where we are after that.”

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Ligue 1 Player of the Week – Martin Braithwaite (Bordeaux)

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With the penultimate weekend of the 2017-18 French Ligue 1 season now done and dusted, all that remains is one match in which to make or break your season. For Marseille, for example, their home clash against Amiens could spell the difference between a place in the early stages of next season’s Champions League, or the Europa League. Lyon and even Monaco face very similar challenges. At the other end of the table, with Metz and Troyes already relegated Toulouse will want to halt their recent slump in the visit of Guingamp if they are to avoid joining those two in Ligue 2 next term. Metz, in fact, play host to Bordeaux on the final day of the season – and it is these visitors that this week’s Ligue 1 Player of the Week represents.

Continue reading

Malcom reaffirms desire to leave Bordeaux at end of the season

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Bordeaux star Malcom has once again made clear his intentions to depart from the Ligue 1 side come the end of the campaign, revealing that he intends to be at one of Europe’s ‘elite clubs’ come the turn of the next season.

Despite pledging to his club that he would remain loyal to them for the remainder of the 2017/18 campaign, the Brazilian has been increasingly vocal that of his intentions to leave Bordeaux when the summer transfer window comes around.

Having garnered attention from the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham in January, Malcolm has made it clear that he sees the French club as a launch-pad from which to hit loftier heights in the European game and not as a final destination. Continue reading

How Gus Poyet can inspire Bordeaux to European football this season

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New Bordeaux manager Gus Poyet has had a stellar impact upon the club since his arrival in Ligue 1. With the campaign to finish within the European places beginning to heat up as we approach the final stretch of the season, could his impetus be the driving force behind a late surge for the top six?

The 50-year-old’s side ran out convincing winners away to a Strasbourg side that have slid down the table in recent weeks, having now won only one of their last five fixtures.

Poyet’s team took an early lead when 28-year-old Senegalese midfielder Younousse Sankharé put them ahead in only the 3rd minute, grabbing his fifth goal this season hitting a points tally of 27 for the campaign. Continue reading

Can Bordeaux afford to lose Malcom?

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It seems like that another Ligue 1 star is headed towards Premier League. And no, we are not talking about Thomas Lemar, who also might move to England in the coming days.

According to the latest reports, Malcom of Bordeaux is very close to joining Arsenal of Premier League.

The 20-year-old has been in top form for his side this season. In 19 appearances, he has scored seven goals and provided five assists for a side that sits in a lowly 13th position in the league. Malcom signed for the French side from Brazilian side Corinthians in January 2016, and since then, he has emerged as one of the best-attacking prospects in football. Continue reading

Serie A kick-off completes European lineup

This weekend sees the fourth weekend of action since seasons across Europe kicked off, and we’ve got some cracking games to take a look at, and with the league campaign getting underway in the Italian Serie A we finally have a full program of action.

In France, Ligue 1 gets underway on Friday evening when Marseille take on Nice, with several games taking place on Saturday and three fixtures on Sunday. Bordeaux will be looking to continue their 100% start to the season when they host Bastia on Sunday, and with striker Diego Rolan already on 45 points thanks to two goals so far he will be looking to add to that tally, but Bastia are still looking for a sign of which way their season is going with a win, a loss and a draw thus far. Elsewhere in the league, champions Paris Saint-Germain will want to improve on their single win and two draws when they take on St Etienne at Parc des Princes in Ligue 1’s last game of the weekend on Sunday evening. Keeper Salvatore Sirigu has managed 70 points so far, with PSG defenders David Luiz and Serge Aurier on 60 each, so the defensive record of the home side is great so far – top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be hoping to add to his tally of two goals and 30 fantasy points as well.

In the Premier League next, we see a particularly juicy fixture on Saturday afternoon as title favourites Chelsea travel to Merseyside to take on Everton. Aside from the fact that these two sides are among the top few in the land, the Toffees recently signed Cameroon striker – and former Chelsea star – Samuel Eto’o, who could be up for making his debut against his old club here. Eto’o arrived at Goodison Park despite reported interest from several other Premier League outlets, as well as some parties from across Europe, following a successful season at Stamford Bridge last year. He is valued at only €7.50m in our fantasy competition, so perhaps get him into your side and hope he can hit the back of the net against his former employers on Saturday. Chelsea’s defence, however, has been fantastic, with Branislav Ivanovic and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (50 points and 40 points respectively) particularly impressing, so it is likely to be a tough afternoon for Eto’o and co.

Moving towards the Bundesliga, the German top flight kicks off its second round of games following last weekend’s curtain raiser, with a particularly interesting game coming in the form of Bayer 04 Leverkusen against Hertha BSC on Saturday afternoon. Hosts Leverkusen have, much like the aforementioned Chelsea, done well defensively so far, keeping a clean sheet in their first outing – one of only five sides to manage it in the league – and that puts their defensive players right up there already as far as fantasy points go, but arguably the most interest and attention to be paid here would be on the pair of Karim Bellarabi (midfielder, 40 points) and Stefan Kießling (striker, 20 points). If these two can link up they can give Hertha’s defence some worries by the end of the match. Hertha’s strikers, however, were their prized assets last time around, with Julian Schieber on 40 points and Roy Beerens on 10, so the game could really go either way.

In La Liga, the match between Villarreal and Barcelona will be the focus owing to both sides having won their opening games, and both are clubs with Champions League experience. Much like both Chelsea and Leverkusen previously, Villareal’s strength in their opening game was easily at the back, but Barcelona’s front line are notoriously difficult to keep out, and so one must surely fancy the visitors in this one. Villareal have the quality to make it difficult though, with midfielder Denis Cheryshev (30 points) able to both provide and score goals of his own, but Barca surely have enough quality to do enough to grab the points. The Catalans are also in something of a unique position fantasy football-wise (at least in the contexts of this preview) as they have two players at the top of their points charts – one a goalkeeper, and one a striker. Claudio Bravo’s clean sheet from his one start last weekend gives him his total, while the incomparable Lionel Messi shares that total thanks to bagging a brace on opening day. Looking at Barcelona’s top pointsmen from then on, however, it was a starring performance on opening day from the defence – so expect last year’s runners-up to go all out to build on last week’s win over Elche and continue making it difficult for title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

Moving towards other Mediterranean shores now, the Italian Serie A also gets going with only two Saturday fixtures, as the rest of the games take place on Sunday. There are two fixtures in particular that would offer some intrigue, with Roma welcoming Fiorentina to Stadio Olimpico on Saturday whereas Milan play hosts to Roma’s rivals Lazio on Sunday. Roma ended last season as runners-up to champions Juventus, who travel to Chievo on Saturday, finishing some way behind their title rivals. Fiorentina ended up fourth, so this is another game that would come under a top match banner, but the hosts will be hoping that they can keep the goal threats of Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez at bay. They only conceded two goals more than Juve last season, though, so Roma’s defence is among the finest – it’s an early test for both sides that could reasonably end in a draw, but could also go to a big win for either side – it’s tough to call.

That’s it folks – we now have a full lineup of football across Europe once again. Best of luck to all fantasy managers out there!