Thierry Henry sacked, Leonardo Jardim returns and yet Monaco could still be relegated from Ligue 1

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If anything at least it hasn’t been a quiet forgettable season for Monaco. The 2017 champions and the only team to stop PSG winning the league since 2012 are in 17th place and have a realistic chance of being relegated.

Thierry Henry infamously replaced Leonardo Jardim who had guided the club to their Ligue 1 win and had done pretty much nothing wrong to be sacked in the first place. This was proven just 4 months later when Henry couldn’t even buy a win and was sacked as Monaco lay in the bottom three. He was inevitably replaced by Jardim and Monaco’s fortune swiftly turned around, well at least, for a few weeks.

It seems though that Jardim and possibly even Henry were not the root of the problem and the real problem for the club is that for many seasons they have constantly sold their best players. Run as a business Monaco have been terrific one of the best clubs in Europe, buy cheap and sell large. Clubs such as Manchester City and PSG have spent hundreds of millions acquiring the talent pool from Monaco. That is all very well and good but was it worth it to be playing in Ligue 2?

Jardim has simply not been able to turn things around enough for a club who have slumped in the past month. Their latest defeat was against newly promoted Nimes losing 1-0 and Monaco are 17th. The problem for the club is that they are only in this position on goal difference. Caen have found excellent form and have the same number of points on them on 33. And that is not all, Dijon’s victory over Strasbourg at the weekend means that they have 31 and remain a threat and there is still 2 games to play in the league.

Monaco have lost 3 of their last four games and from their last 10 games they have won just once. Their last victory came 2 months ago when they beat Lille. Indeed that has been a sticking point with the club. Their last two wins came against Lille who are 2nd and Lyon who are 3rd, but they have had a hard time beating teams just above them and around them which could ultimately be their downfall.

Will Monaco survive? Well if they finish 18th that is no longer automatic relegation in France and instead they would partake in a play off against the 3rd place Ligue 2 side to see who would be promoted and relegated. Monaco’s last two games are at home to Amiens and then away in the derby against Nice. How ironic that it is Nice who could end up sending them down?

The Amiens game then is massive and win that and that should be enough to fend off the challenge from Dijon. Plus Dijon have to play PSG away from home next, and yes whilst PSG have been in poor form, no one is expecting them to lose that match. So Dijon do look down. As for Caen that is the real worry for Monaco, since Caen would be 6th in the league on form.

Caen have to play Lyon away which is going to be incredibly tough and then finish the season with a home game against Bordeaux. It’s going to be close and both Caen and Monaco could finish on 36 points.

While the excitement of who would win Ligue 1 felt done and dusted by Christmas the relegation battle is only just heating up with 2 games to go.

Ligue 1: Player of the Week: Romain Hamouma

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Our player of the week in Ligue 1 football fantasy is Saint Etienne’s midfielder Romain Hamouma who picked up the most points from any players position as he earned 10 points this past weekend.

Saint Etienne climbed to fifth place as they beat Caen 5-0 away from home in an enthralling game of football which saw Hamouma open up the scoring with a superb finish. But the midfielder was not finished at that point when he assisted in the next two goals to give his side a 3-0 lead. Soon afterwards he was substituted but was applauded from the bench and the bigger surprise was that he was even applauded by the home supporters, the Caen fans knew that they had seen a special performance as it was clear that he had had his best game of the season for the club.

Let’s look at Hamouma’s performance in the Ligue 1 Fantasy Football rankings. This season he has played 19 times, though he hasn’t always started as a regular for the club and has come off from the bench 7 times. He has scored 3 goals this season and the two assists he made at the weekend was his first of the season.

Hamouma has an overall points tally of 21 and would be ranked as 38th in the midfielder rankings. Whilst that is low down it might be worth considering taking Hamouma on for your side given that he has found some real form and the fact that his club are in a great position to challenge for a good finish and a possible European place.

If you want to buy Hamouma he is available at 6.5m. What we have to consider is the player’s performance which his manager Jean-Louis Gasset was highly impressed with, it’s why Hamouma should see more games as a starter than from the bench. After the game Gasset said, “We needed to win again after Marseille and Lille where we had been found wanting. We dominated the game, we started really well. We were clinical at the back and up front. It went perfectly. We were disciplined against a side that is full of doubt.”

Hamouma has been at Saint Etienne since 2012 and has played over 150 games for the club and this season could finish in a European one for a player that has also scored 28 times for the club.

As far as the rankings go Hamouma who used to play for Caen only needs 7 more points to move into the top 25 rankings and could still make a real impact on the rankings.

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

 

 

Thierry Henry gets first win with Monaco but a testing month awaits

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Thierry Henry finally achieved his first win as Monaco coach after his side beat Caen 1-0 at the weekend. It was a deserved victory too and means that Henry could celebrate for the first time in 7 games.

Monaco are still in the bottom three but there was a huge sense of relief after the win from the players and Henry. It meant so much and means that Henry’s win rate leaped up to 14%. After the game Henry said: “I am happy for the team and the supporters. We needed that, even if we were not completely in control of the match. We could have been out of sight sooner, and in football you don’t know what can happen. Caen like to get crosses in quickly, they fight, and we knew what to expect. The manner in which we get results is important, but we will worry about that later. (Radamel) Falcao showed that he is Falcao. He is the captain, he is there to score goals.”

Henry also realised what lies ahead for the club in the coming weeks. “We went out and got this victory, and it can help bring us some peace. It is always better when you win, but we are not getting carried away. This is just the beginning. There are still lots of matches and battles to come. I am especially happy for the squad, for all the work they have put in and not been rewarded, but we are still in the relegation zone.”

Henry talked about battles ahead and he is exactly right on that point. It all commences for Henry and Monaco this Wednesday when they must travel to Spain in the Champions League to face Atletico Madrid, Monaco can be quoted at 16/1 to win the game which pretty much says it all. There is some hope for a Europa League spot for the side but even those hopes may seem faint after this game.

After that Monaco return to Ligue 1 action against Montpellier who have been in fine form so far. They play Amiens away which could be a possible win and then come the 3 really hard fixtures. Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and Lyon. Monaco will also face Nice in what is always a special derby and this season will have the extra spice of Henry going head to head with his old Arsenal teammate Patrick Vieira, who is doing very well with Nice.

If Monaco can get something from these games then we will know if Henry can and has created some sort of turnaround miracle. The Caen win has given Henry reasons to be cheerful but he will want that momentum to continue. A defeat looks inevitable against Atletico in a few days but that game will be all about not getting stuffed for many goals and keeping the score predictable. The next 3 weeks will be a fascinating time at Monaco, that is for sure.

Inter must utilise Karamoh’s speed and skill in Europe this season

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With the obvious exception of Inter’s global fanbase, very few people outside the Italian football sphere paid much attention when the club announced the signing of Yann Karamoh towards the end of last summer’s transfer window. Most were probably more concerned by how the likes of Milan Škriniar and Matías Vecino – both of whom arrived for significant fees of over €20 million – would perform in a Nerazzurri shirt. A two-year loan deal from Caen (with obligation to buy for €5.5 million) was never likely to capture the imagination of football’s money-obsessed onlookers. Continue reading

Ligue 1 Player of the Week – Bertrand Traore (Lyon)

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With the Ligue 1 season now quickly drawing to a close, all attention towards the top end of the table is geared towards 2nd – 4th place. Which three sides will make it into the Champions League next season? Which team will have to settle for Europa League football next term? Things are certainly heating up near the top of the table, with Lyon maintaining their slender grip on second place, a point ahead of Monaco having finally leapfrogged the principality over the last week or two. They are on a long run of wins at the moment, and much of the thanks for that is down to Bertrand Traore, their talismanic midfielder who has been so important to their campaign.

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Ligue 1 leaders Nice unbeaten run ends against Caen

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One of the biggest surprises in European football’s elite leagues is seeing that Nice are in first position in France’s Ligue 1. However after 12 games they have lost their first match of the season.

That defeat came from an unlikely source in Caen who ran out 1-0 winners. The win moved Caen up to 15th place and stopped a 3 game losing streak. As the final whistle was blown on a freezing Sunday afternoon Nice looked stunned, they were not used of losing in Ligue 1. However perhaps the signs were there given that their Europa League chances had faltered in recent weeks with losses over Krasnodar and then only on Thursday going down at home to Red Bull Salzburg.

Nice’s league campaign has still been stunning though, where the club has won 9 matches from twelve games. They had before this match pulled out a 6 point lead at the top- forget about pretenders Monaco and champions PSG, Nice were clearly doing things there way. But such is football that 24 hours is a very short time and everything can change rather quickly.

Monaco recorded a brilliant 6-0 win over Nancy to move within 3 points of Nice and PSG will play late on Sunday. If they win in Paris against Rennes which they are expected to Nice will have not one but two teams vying for that first position, and even though Nice have been superb it is Monaco and PSG who has the much fuller and better equipped squads for a good league run.

Nice are attempting to win their first Ligue 1 title since 1959 and under coach Lucien Favre will clearly not give up that dream. Favre who signed on this summer is Nice’s fifth coach this decade alone.

It won’t get any easier for Nice either, their next game is away to tricky St Etienne who look great one week and very average the next. But Monaco will be away to lowly Lorient and one can expect not just a win but goals. Monaco have scored a stunning 36 goals this season so far, averaging out at just over 3 a game.

Nice has already showed character in losing Europa League games only to win domestically. However now there is a brand new challenge for them to keep pace and heart and see how they will react when losing in their own league.

Is this the beginning of the end, a good run turned sour, or simply a blip? We should know that answer by the end of this month.

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