Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Ismaila Sarr


Ismaila Sarr may not come first to your mind when you think of brilliant midfielders plying their trade in France’s Ligue 1 but Sarr had a very solid season at Rennes to end up being the 5th best midfielder of the season.

Sarr who is from Senegal is widely unknown even in the league- although his performances this season should change that view. One has to remember that Sarr is still only 21. Sarr had played for Metz before being snapped up by Rennes in 2017 and has since fit into the team without any problems.

The Rennes midfielder would have cost you 7.5m to have in your team- that could go up next season after his performances in this one. He gained a total of 60 points, just 10 points shy of Reims’ Remi Oudin. His goal scoring feats were impressive as he netted 8 times and assisted in a further 6 goals and was part of a team that kept 11 clean sheets.

Sarr’s season started by picking up points in 3 of his first four matches as his play and his team gained momentum. However that was stopped soon after as Rennes went through a bad period of form that begun in mid September. As a consequence Sarr picked up no points for 5 games in a row.

His best form started at the beginning of December where he scored points in five consecutive games totalling 18 altogether. His best game of the season actually came down to two matches. The early season win over Angers in which he scored a goal and kept a clean sheet and the terrific 2-0 win at Lyon where he assisted in both goals and of course kept a clean sheet. For the player the Lyon victory might be the best moment of his season league wise.

Sarr picked up 6 bookings but otherwise never finished a game below -1 points which is an impressive sign at his age that he is maturing well. This is his highest ever points total and he will be looking to keep that momentum going for next season.

As for Rennes season they had a memorable one. True they could only finish in 10th place with 52 points and finished 14 points from a European place, but that is only the beginning of the story. Rennes qualified for the Europa League after winning their first major trophy in a generation when they stunned PSG in the Coupe de France final and beat them. It was one of the biggest shocks in French football history. The club won on penalties after a 2-2 draw and Sarr was on hand to score one of his to crown a very special season indeed.

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Neymar allegedly punches Rennes fan in ultimate meltdown after Coupe de France defeat


The Coupe de France final was supposed to not only be a straight forward win for champions PSG, but was supposed to be ‘Neymar’s final’. The Brazilian had just come back from a lengthy injury lay off, this was supposed to be his redemption.

It had all started so well for PSG who took an early lead through a brilliant long distance strike from Neymar’s Brazilian team mate Dani Alves who was looking for his 43rd trophy in his career. He made it to 42 with the league win which has since been confirmed as making him the most decorated football player in history.

PSG then made it 2-0 with a delightful goal from Neymar, there was surely only going to be one winner here, and PSG was about to pick up its 5th cup final trophy in a row. But the football Gods had not had their say.

Quite incredibly Rennes pulled it back and started to believe. An own goal made it 2-1 and a quick fire header that no goalkeeper in the world was saving made it 2-2. The game went to penalties and Rennes triumphed as PSG wilted. The scenes were simply incredible. PSG look stunned, but Neymar even more so after missing a chunk of the season only to experience this episode.

But there was more to come. Some fans could be seen screaming towards Neymar- all inaudible and to be fair it seemed to be just banter. But as the PSG players passed the fans to collect their trophies it all kicked off.

Allegedly a Rennes fan joked and said to Neymar ‘you should learn how to play football’. Then allegedly Neymar struck out at the fan as seen in video footage. It is unclear if it was a punch, slap or push, although wide media are reporting the incident as a punch.

More details need to be gathered and the French Football Federation will be doing that over this week. But if the fan really did say just that then Neymar is set to be in a lot of trouble. Some are talking that he could be looking at a 5 game ban, some even say that under French football rules it could be 8 games.

All of this feel like a huge meltdown for a player that was banned for the first 3 games of next seasons Champions League after his criticism tweet of UEFA when PSG were controversially knocked out of the Champions League against Liverpool.

Sometimes football is unfair, but it seems that Neymar can’t take that and he has certainly over stepped the mark in the Coupe de France. Is this the beginning of the end of his career at PSG? It could well be.

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Preview of Europe’s Top Domestic Cup Competition Finals

Due to be played today are the finals of many of Europe’s domestic cup competitions.

In Germany & Italy, Bayern Munich & Juventus respectively, are each aiming to secure domestic doubles. PSG have the opportunity to clinch a second successive French domestic treble, whilst Manchester United aim to win their first piece of silverware under Louis Van Gaal.

All of the five finals have the potential to be highly entertaining, closely contested affairs, although there is a favourite in each, as identified in the following previews.

Coupe de France – PSG v Marseille – Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to play his final game for PSG as the Parisian side will aim to clinch a second successive domestic treble when they face Marseille in the Coupe de France final. The Swede – who is PSG’s record goal scorer – has already scored three times against Marseille in the league this season, to help his side to a pair of 2-1 victories over their final opponents, who overcame Sochaux in the semi-finals, whilst PSG beat Lorient. Although Marseille are the leading all time winners of the Coupe de France with ten titles, victory for PSG would match that haul and win the trophy for a second year running, after Edison Cavani scored the only goal of last year’s final as Laurent Blanc’s side defeated Auxerre 1-0.


As vital to PSG’s prospects for victory as Ibrahimovic is, equally important to Marseille’s chances of recording a surprise win is their in-demand Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi.

DFB Pokal – Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund – At the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich meet Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal final, as Pep Guardiola aims to end his reign as manager of the Bavarian giants with a win to secure a league and cup double. Ironically Dortmund achieved just that in 2012, when managed by Jurgen Klopp, as they beat Bayern 5-2 in that year’s final. The fierce rivals also contested the 2014 with Bayern lifting the cup virtue of winning 2-0 after extra time.

Whilst Bayern reached the final courtesy of a semi-final win over Werder Bremen, Dortmund did so by sweeping aside Wolfsburg.


Just as the final marks the end of Guardiola’s Bayern career, it will be the last time Matt Hummels plays a competitive game for Dortmund as the German international’s transfer to Munich has already been confirmed. Nevertheless Hummels is determined to help Dortmund overcome his future employers. “I will give it everything I’ve got to go home with the cup.”

In switching to Bayern, Hummels is set to follow the path taken by former Dortmund teammates Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze, the latter of whom will not feature for Guardiola’s team, due to being sidelined with a rib injury.

Coppa Italia – Juventus v AC Milan – At the Stadio Olympico in Rome, Juventus will aim to become the first side to complete an Italian domestic double for two consecutive years when they face AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final. The Turin giants, managed by former Milan manager Max Allegri, have won Serie A for the fifth year in a row and now turn their attention to winning a second successive Coppa Italia after beating Lazio 2-1 in last year’s final.

In contrast to Juve enjoying great domestic success over the past five years, Milan have stuttered and failed to win a single trophy during the same stretch. Should Christian Brocchi’s side manage to end that barren spell and win a first piece silverware since 2011, that would help to avenge a disappointing 7th place finish in Serie A, whilst securing direct qualification to European competition for next season.

The team that Brocchi fields to try to achieve that may be without first choice full backs, Ignazio Abate and Luca Antonelli, as there is a doubt over the fitness of both players.


Allegri similarly has team selection worries with which to contend. Sami Khedira, Martin Caceres & Claudio Marchisio are out injured, whilst Leonardo Bonucci is suspended.

The stage is set for an intriguing encounter between Italy’s two most successful sides, as Juve seek to add to a haul of 60 trophies, whilst Milan will try to add to their 33 domestic titles.

FA Cup Final – Manchester United v Crystal Palace – To be played at Wembley between Manchester United and Crystal Palace, is the final of the oldest football association cup.

Manchester United last won the competition in 2004, whilst their final opponents have never lifted the trophy.

The game is a repeat of the 1990 final, which went to a replay. After a 3-3 draw, United overcame Palace 1-0.


Louis Van Gaal is aiming to lead United to their first piece of silverware since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, which would help to offset the disappointment of the club failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Meanwhile under the guidance of Alan Pardew, Palace comfortably retained their Premier League status by finishing in 15th place and reached the final after beating Watford 2-1 in the Semi-Final, whilst United overcame Everton by the same score line after extra time.

Former Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha is set to return for Palace after a three game absence due to injury, with United welcoming back Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini. The giant Belgian scored in United’s semi-final win and should he play, is likely to engage in a fierce battle with his Palace counterpart Miles Jedinak.

Just as the goals of Connor Wickham are vital to Palace, so too are those of Marcus Rashford for United, with each player set to spearhead the attack’s of their respective team’s.