Top 4 all win in Ligue 1 as relegation battle boils down to Caen and Amiens

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That was more like it from PSG who have been a shadow of themselves since winning the league in April. They beat Dijon 4-0 which included a brace from Kylian Mbappe who ends the season as top goal scorer. Perhaps the real story was that PSG were 2-0 up within the first ten minutes and Edinson Cavani scored. It looks increasingly likely that Cavani will leave the club in the summer and if so, then this is his last match in Paris. He crowned it well.

Neymar was missing as he has been suspended for the last 2 games of the season and of course there is speculation that he will not be at PSG next season. Lille finally confirmed 2nd place and the runners-up spot with a fantastic 5-0 win over Angers and yet again Nicolas Pepe starred for the team and scored a couple of goals. Like others Pepe’s name is now being talked about, could he make a Premier League move next season?

Lyon confirmed 3rd place and the final Champions League spot, although they will have to qualify for the competition proper. They beat Caen 4-0 which was significant given that Caen are fighting relegation. It is now between Caen and Amiens to see who stays up as Monaco look safe. Amiens have a 2 point advantage over Caen.

Saint Etienne won with a great 3-0 victory over Nice to confirm their Europa League participation next season. They have pulled 5 points clear of fifth place, and the European spot was well deserved after such brilliant form especially in the second half of the season.

Montpellier’s draw with Nantes ended their slim hopes of European football next season and the result also let in Marseille who have closed the gap over them to just 1 point. That is because Marseille beat Toulouse in a thrilling match that ended 5-2 to the L’OM. The score was 3-2 in the 90th minute but Florian Thauvin scored 2 goals in a matter of 60 seconds to give the final score more of a gloss.

Nimes drew 2-2 against bottom team Guingamp, but this wasn’t seen as a disappointing result given that both teams were not playing for anything and the season has clearly wound down and both sets of players enjoyed the game, which was entertaining for the fans. Nimes will have to win next weekend or could lose their 7th place to Nice, and as mentioned before Nice’s good form went out the window with a 0-3 loss at Saint Etienne.

If Reims win their last game and Nice and Nimes lose the club could leapfrog both of them. The final round of games will take place this weekend.

Prove you have what it takes to challenge the best French Fantasy Football managers here fantasyligue1.comd finish in 7th place.

 

Ligue 1: Week 37: Player Picks for the Weekend

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Most of the major European leagues have finished but in France Ligue 1 doesn’t end until the end of the month. PSG are champions of course and Lille and Lyon look like they will get Champions League places. Relegation is still up for grabs though, could Caen really survive and take down the 2017 champions Monaco, it looks more likely as the season draws to a close.

Below we pick in a 4-4-2 formation the players that could be most likely to shine and earn you points this weekend.

Goalkeeper: Stephane Ruffier- Saint Etienne

Stephane Ruffier has been superb in goal for Saint Etienne and the club have conceded just 3 in the last 6 games. They will be at home to Nice and this is the clubs last roll of the dice. Ruffier can be added to your team for 7.5m.

Defender: Marcelo- Lyon

Marcelo has played 31 times and is ranked as the best Lyon defender this season. Lyon are at home and really need the win. They will have a tough game against Caen who are fighting to stay up, but Lyon possess more quality and Marcelo is just 8m.

Defender: Dani Alves

Dani Alves for PSG could have a good game, this is PSG’s last home match of the season and it may well be Alves last game for PSG given his age. He will want to put in a good performance and they are playing Dijon who are really struggling, Alves could well earn some valuable points here.

Defender: Hilton- Montpellier

Hilton has played almost the whole season and Montpellier kept a clean sheet in their last game as they try and finish the season on a high. They are playing Nantes at the weekend but they are at home and every chance to get a good result, he is 6m.

Defender: Lamine Kone- Strasbourg

Kone has a had a decent season and has become a staple figure in the side. It is true that Strasbourg have just 1 clean sheet in their past five games however the club will feel confident that they can do so when they entertain Rennes at the weekend and Kone should be looked into.

Midfielder: Remi Oudin- Reims

Oudin is valued at 10m but he has had a great season for Reims even if the club are going through a difficult spell. He has assisted in 3 goals and scored a further 10 and with the season almost near the end he might be worth sticking in your team.

Midfielder: Arber Zeneli- Reims

Sticking with Reims, is Zeneli another player that can switch it on and create chances. Reims have not been in good form but have the quality to finish the season well and they will be playing Bordeaux who have been very poor this season so their luck could change. Zeneli can be yours for just 6.5m.

Midfielder: Ismaila Sarr-Rennes

Sarr has been in good form for Rennes as they take on Strasbourg away at the weekend it what could end up being quite a close game. Sarr has scored 7 goals and also assisted 6 times and he is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Wylan Cyprien- Nice

Cyprien has so much quality but what tends to happen is that he goes through periods of the season quiet. The question is can he finish it on form and with a bang? He can be brought into your team for a bargain 5m and Nice will be playing Saint Etienne at the weekend.

Striker: Nicolas Pepe- Lille

Nicolas Pepe has been one of the best players in Ligue 1. This is Lille’s last game at home to secure 2nd place and it all looks set for Pepe to add to his goals this season. He should be taken on.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- PSG

This could be Cavani’s final game in Paris as he is set to leave the club. He has scored so many goals for the club. Kylian Mbappe is struggling with fitness and Neymar is banned from this game, so this should be Cavani’s time to step up and score a few goals. He is 13m which is expensive but at the same time the players will be creating many chances for him, that’s for sure.

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Why Neymar and Cavani are undermining Thomas Tuchel at PSG

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Thomas Tuchel arrived at PSG last summer full of smiles and ambitions. Despite leading the club to another league title, it is coming to the end of the season and you’d have a better chance of finding hens teeth than a smile on Tuchel’s face.

There has been two evident problems. Neymar and Edinson Cavani- the two strikers for PSG, who let’s face it, have never got along well. Ever since the pair had an inflated ego row about who would take a penalty soon after Neymar completed his surprise switch from Barcelona, tempers have flared. You can pretend that arguing over a penalty means little and it can be forgotten about, but it never was.

Cavani knew that the presence of Neymar meant that he would get less goals and that all of a sudden he wasn’t the biggest fish in the Paris pond. At the same time Neymar needed to establish himself as the euro 200m signing that he was being prepped up to be- the most expensive player in the history of football couldn’t just let Cavani get on and take that penalty. The arguments and slight jabs have not stopped. And yet both players could be exiting the club in the summer, which one will hold the door for the other is the 64 million question.

All of this seems to be undermining the job that Tuchel has on his hands at PSG- perhaps the German coach cannot control the egos- who knows? Look at Neymar recently handed a 3 match ban by UEFA for insulting the match officials on social media after the club were admittingly controversially knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United. Neymar will miss the first 3 games of the group stages no matter what club he plays for next season.

Then after returning from injury he played in the Coupe de France final only for PSG to lose 3-2. Neymar then lashed out at a fan after what appeared to be harmless banter. Proceedings have been opened up against the player, who could miss the rest of the season.

The case of Edinson Cavani is according to reports that the player wants to leave the club and move to the Premier League. He has put in a good service for PSG, though always come up short in Europe. But the timing just seems wrong from Cavani, it feels like a lack of respect and quite controversial to announce he wants away when he has missed a chunk of the season due to injury and received support from his club in the process.

Will Tuchel keep his job? He deserves too only to possibly see the back of one or even both players and try to get an ego free season from the club that is simply riddled with it. One suspects all three subjects in this piece could be on their merry way that is the circus around the city of Paris right now. We will have to wait and see.

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Ligue 1: Week 35: Player Picks for the Weekend

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PSG are champions as we know but there is still the prospect of sorting out Champions League, Europa League and relegation places, and this is what will be on everyone’s minds come the 35th week of Ligue 1 football.

Below we will take a look at the players that could make all the difference this weekend and some of them you may want to add to your team, as they look to gain maximum points depending on the upcoming fixtures.

Formation 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Walter Benitez- Nice

Walter Benitez is one of the best up and coming goal keepers in Ligue 1. But he makes this list and you should choose him given his fantastic recent form, where he has kept 4 clean sheets from the past five games. It’s true they are playing PSG, but their form has not been good and they have already won the league. Benitez costs 6.5m.

Defender: Christopher Julien- Toulouse

Julien has been a rock in defence for Toulouse and has played the most games for the club this season. Toulouse will be at home against Rennes who shouldn’t offer much trouble up front. At home Toulouse have kept 2 clean sheets in a row. He is valued at 6.5m.

Defender: Issiaga Sylla- Toulouse

Keeping with Toulouse is the experienced Issiaga Sylla who has had a decent season and has a good chemistry with Julien. Again Toulouse are at home and have decent opposition in a game where they could well keep a clean sheet. Sylla can also score goals and has 2 so far this season so could be worth some bonus points. He is valued at 6.5m.

Defender: Pierre-Yves Polomat – Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne are the team right now and not only are they winning but they are keeping it very solid at the back too. It might be worth taking Polomat into your team given that the player likes to come forward too- and can score and create goals, plus he is only going to cost a bargain 3m. Saint Etienne play Monaco away this weekend.

Defender: Dani Alves – PSG

Dani Alves has been one of the brighter lights for PSG even though their form has suffered in the past few weeks. PSG are at home to Nice and there is a big chance for the club that they can at least keep Nice quiet in Paris. Alves has 6 assists so far this season too. Alves cost 7.5m.

Midfielder: Wahbi Khazri – Saint Etienne

Simply put Khazri has been one of the best pound for pound players in Ligue 1. His club are chasing the Champions League, they are in superb form, scoring goals, and for his position Khazri has an incredible 13 goals- what else do we need to know, not to pick this player? And he will cost just 7.5m.

Midfielder: Remy Cabella- Saint Etienne

Cabella was brilliant last week and there is no reason to see the player slowing down given that Saint Etienne have to keep pushing and winning in order to try and take 3rd place from Lyon. Cabella is a bargain price- all things considered at 7m.

Midfielder: Valentin Rongier- Nantes

Valentin Rongier has 3 goals and 4 assists for Nantes and has shown a lot of quality especially in recent weeks. Plus Nantes are going through the best form of their season and have won the last 4 games including beating PSG, Lyon and Marseille. They just keep winning and they are at home v Dijon this weekend, which should be another victory. Rongier to buy is just 4.5m.

Midfielder: Nabil Fekir- Lyon

True Fekir will cost you 10m but at the weekend Lyon have a massive game against 2nd place Lille and this is where Fekir need to step up and make this game his own if he ever wants to be a regular French international. He has scored 9 goals and has 7 assists so there are plenty of points in him.

Striker: Edinson Cavani- PSG

Cavani has been knocked down to 3rd striker in the PSG pecking order because of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. But Neymar has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons while Mbappe is suspended for this game. This is Cavani’s chance to get back in the starting 11 and back on track scoring goals. Cavani is valued at 13m.

Striker: Andy Delort- Montpellier

The man of the moment Andy Delort is trying his best to fire Montpellier into a final European position. Delort is scoring goals and did so last weekend against PSG. He has scored 14 so far and is 7m.

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Ligue 1 -Player of the Week- Kylian Mbappe

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Kylian Mbappe scored both goals as PSG beat Caen at the weekend in what was a tougher match than expected for the current French champions, and he has emerged as our Fantasy player of the week.

Mbappe collected a cool 8 points with his two goals which now puts him on an overall points tally of 107 pts. Not only was Mbappe the player of the week but he is the leading player in Fantasy Ligue 1 and is a massive 27 pts in front of Lille striker Nicolas Pepe and his team mate Edinson Cavani.

Mbappe is just 20 years old and what has been incredible is how he has been able to adapt himself so well and shown so much consistency it’s as if he has been playing football at the top level for the past 10 years.

Not only is he leading the Fantasy Ligue 1 rankings but he is also the top goal scorer in Ligue 1 with 24 goals to his name already. He has already surpassed his best season goals wise which came with his former club Monaco in the 2016/17 season when he scored 15 league goals. Overall that season he was able to net 26 times but this season he has 29 and could well have 40 by the end of it.

It’s not just about goals for Mbappe though and he has assisted in 5 goals, with his vision and his pace no defender wants to really go toe to toe with him, and it is clear that Mbappe is one of the best players in the world, and possibly as an out and out striker could well be the best centre forward, even at 20. In that relation he reminds one of the Brazilian Ronaldo who burst onto the scene 23 years ago. Both players share that pace and a willingness to go for goal without hesitation.

If you don’t have Mbappe in your team, perhaps you should do and he can be bought for 10.5m his current value. That is 2.5m cheaper than Cavani who has 7 goals less than him. Indeed Neymar cost 14.5m and that’s 3m more than Mbappe, although to be fair Neymar has missed the past month and could be out until April, so injury has hampered his season performance.

What has also been impressive with Mbappe being in first position is that he has received 3 yellow cards and 1 red. Whilst Pepe and Cavani in 2nd and 3rd place have no cards against them and yet Mbappe still has a huge lead over them.

Mbappe has scored 5 goals in his past 3 games and looks the favourite to be the top goal scorer this season in Ligue 1. For 10.5m he is proving to be not the only the best player of the week in France, but currently the best player in Ligue 1.

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Walter Mazzarri Is Back At His Best

Liverpool v Torino - Pre-Season Friendly - AnfieldWhen Walter Mazzarri was appointed as Torino boss last January, I Granata were languishing on the outskirts of the mid-table and were a side without a clear identity. Fast forward a year later and Torino have become one of the toughest teams to break down in the peninsula and are now pushing for a spot in next year’s Europa League. While Atalanta have received all the plaudits for their offensive football, Mazzarri’s 
side are their antithesis, and sit on 38 points alongside Gli Orobici. 

After a failed stint in England that saw his contract terminated at the end of his first season, Mazzarri’s reputation took a hit. Long gone were the memories of his Napoli side  that, along with Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani, pushed the envelope beating the likes of Juventus, Inter, and Chelsea in the process. Instead, unsuccessful tenures with Inter and Watford came to define the Italian tactician. That’s why his move to Torino was so important. Back with the familiarity of the Italian mid-table, Mazzarri could finally be himself again after years of trying to be someone he wasn’t.

Since assuming the reigns at the club, Mazzarri has steadied the ship and has made the most of the roster at his disposal. Using his trademark 3-5-2, the former Napoli tactician has transformed Andrea Belotti into a more complete striker, beyond what the stat-sheet might show. At the back, Armando Izzo, who arrived in the summer from Genoa, has been Mazzarri’s undisputed leader and has led by example. Alongside Nkoulou and Moretti, the trio have formed one of the league’s most solid partnerships at the back and have only conceded 22 goals – a feat only bested by the current top four.

In fact, in their last five games I Granata have managed five clean sheets beating the likes of Inter and Atalanta, and held Napoli to a stalemate. Torino also have their keeper Salvatore Sirigu to thank in large part, as the Italian international has played his best football since his Palermo days. After an inconsistent couple of years in Paris and a few loan moves, Sirigu has once again emerged as one of the nation’s top shot-stoppers and has been in top form this season.

Factor in Chelsea loanee Ola Aina’s industry and creativity from the left wing along with De Silvestri’s experience and veteran leadership, and Torino are one tough side to score on, let alone beat.

Mazzarri’s Torino is very similar to any of his past sides that he’s had success with. A compact trio in the midfield, a dangerous duo up top complimenting each other, all-while relying on a resolute defence. We’ve seen this before. With Tomas Rincon acting as the midfield hard-man, as his ten yellow cards would suggest, Daniele Baselli and Soualiho Meité are able to get forward to supply Iago Falque and Belotti. As a whole, Mazzarri’s Torino come together as a real force, and are proof that the sum could be greater than its parts.

Whether or not they qualify for the Europa League remains to be seen as the competition is fierce, however, if Torino have showed us anything this season, it’s that Walter Mazzarri is truly back at his best and it’s wonderful to see.

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Can PSG go the whole season in Ligue 1 unbeaten?

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More or less PSG have been absolutely dominant in the French Ligue 1 since 2012 and their massive takeover which has seen the club win 6 out of the last 7 titles in France. Millions have been spent on some of the greatest players to have graced the game in recent years. The likes of Zlatan Ibramhimovic, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and a new starlet in Kylian Mbappe have passed through their doors.

However it is this season that just feels different under new coach Thomas Tuchel. The reason is evident when you glance at the league tables. Yes it is no surprise to see PSG in 1st position, but they have played 14 games so far and won 14. It’s like a PlayStation game that went very wrong in a kind of excellent way. 42 points means that their nearest challengers Lyon are 15 points behind and the league in effect looks over before December.

We should also be reminded that their nearest rival Lyon were soundly beaten 5-0 last month by the Parisians. They are just that good that no team in France seems to be able to touch them. And yet of course in previous seasons it felt the same way until they would lose a surprise game away from home. This past weekend that almost happened. Not so much that the team would lose but even drop their 100% win rate. The team was Toulouse and with an important Champions League game coming up against Liverpool, both Mbappe and Neymar did not play and PSG edged to a 1-0 nervous victory.

PSG certainly have it within them to not only go unbeaten the whole season but to win every game, it would be a massive achievement even if some critics would point and suggest that the French league is not strong. Well tell that to Premier League champions Manchester City who in 2 games against Lyon both home and away failed to beat the team and conceded 4 goals along the way.

Ligue 1 is not the strongest league in Europe of course but it is far from weak, all it is missing is some wealthy owners to give PSG a run for their money (pardon the pun).

PSG’s real tests will come as the season progresses. How will they react if they are knocked out of a cup competition, especially the Champions League? The league is theirs that is basically assured now, but it is a question of how long they can continue their dominance this season which is most fascinating. Europe will be looking on in anticipation that is for sure.

Thomas Meunièr: PSG’s marauding right-back

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iThe footballing world is like a maze which keeps throwing new dimensions and nuances for all those who love the game with all their heart. Just when you believe that you finally know it all and have mastered the game, there is something which the game throws up at you leaving you in a state of daze and confusion.

How many of you are familiar with the fact that one of the greatest legends of the game- Ian Wright almost opted to give up on the game at one stage in favour of a regular profession? That’s certainly accurate although it seems unbelievable in nature. Wright almost decided to become a plasterer at one stage before his heart reigned supreme over the min gifting the footballing world an absolute genius.

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Mbappe loses appeal and will miss PSG clash with Reims

mbappe3France international Kylian Mbappe has lost his appeal against the red card he received at the start of September and will now sit out a third game, ruling him out of Paris Saint-Germain’s clash with Reims this week. The Ligue 1 leaders – already five points clear at the top, ahead of Lille – will likely stick with a front three of Edinson Cavani, Neymar  and Julian Draxler in the 19-year-old’s absence. Mbappe had been sent off in PSG’s 4-2 win over Nimes on September 1, after lashing out at Teji Sevanier. Sevanier was also banned – for four games in his instance – for his part in the fracas. Mbappe has begun the season in scintillating form, scoring four goals from his opening three appearances.

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Edinson Cavani- PSG’s Silent Guardian

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edinson-cavani-julien-cetout-nancy-paris-sg-ligue-1-15102016_pbiajfj0ae0b1uq9idydk0c53Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was in a state of deep despair at the end of the 2009-10 season following the side’s dismal show in the Serie-A. Napoli finished 6th on the league table with just 59 points, trailing league champions Inter Milan by 23 points despite investing a record sum for the services of talented striker Fabio Quagliarella. The local lad failed to make his presence felt racking a tally of just 11 league goals at the end of the season.

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