With the kind of season Edinson Cavani has enjoyed this term, it is perhaps no surprise that he is among the most coveted players on the planet right now. Having arrived at Paris Saint-Germaine from Napoli back in 2013, Cavani has gone from strength to strength – and neutrals and pundits alike have been left watching in awe at some of the things he can do with a ball at his feet. His eye for goal, teamwork ethic and general presence on the pitch strike a mixture of fear and respect into opposing defenders, and so it is perhaps no surprise that he takes the gong for Ligue 1′s best striker in the 2017/18 season.
Monaco may not have ended up retaining their Ligue 1 title this season, finishing 2nd behind new champions Paris Saint-Germain on the back of a disappointing 13 point deficit. They have, however, qualified for next season’s Champions League after finished two points clear of third place Lyon and three ahead of Marseille. One of the highlights of Monaco’s season has been the continued performance levels of one Fabinho. Fabinho, full name Fabio Tavares (not to be confused with the Rochdale U18 striker of the same name) capped off a great season by sealing a move to the Premier League, where he will join new club Liverpool in July.
Following on from last week’s revelation that Alphonse Areola was the best goalkeeper in Ligue 1 this season, it is time to follow that up with his closest contender. It wasn’t really a close run race in the end, but Montpellier custodian Benjamin Lecomte took the runner-up spot in this season’s goalkeeping charts. The ever-present stopper, signed from Lorient last year, has had a great season in between the Stade de la Mosson sticks, and yet there is something noticeably odd about his positioning as the second best goalkeeper in the French top flight. It is no reflection on his ability or standing in the game of course; no, but what is most unusual is that his Montpellier side actually finished 10th in the table.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 title win this season may have been their fifth in the last six seasons, reclaiming the crown won by Monaco just 12 months previously, but it is easy to forget that before this particular spell of dominance Les Parisiens hadn’t won the French top flight since 1994. That seems bizarre given their status as a super-power club in European football these days, and while they may still be searching for that elusive first European championship eyes don’t blink when some of the world’s finest players are linked with a move to the French capital. Indeed, they captured one of the finest players in the world last summer when they convinced Neymar to leave Barcelona behind and start life anew on the banks of the Seine.
Another day, another Ligue 1 season in the bag. Paris Saint-Germain may have wrapped the title up a good while ago, but there was still plenty of entertainment on display as teams battled for, well….fairly little really. Save for the battle for second and third place between Marseille, Lyon and Monaco, there was little left undecided going into the final round of games. Monaco won that race, incidentally – though for them to finish fourth would have taken a disastrous afternoon indeed. Lyon snuck into third, with Marseille settling for the Europa League spot, despite scoring more and conceding less than the two sides immediately above them. The best show in France, however, was staged at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, where 33,665 people turned out to watch hosts Saint-Etienne hammer struggling Lille 5-0.
Despite winning 2-1 at home, Marseille failed to qualify for the Champions League with that privilege going to Monaco and Lyon. Monaco recorded a relatively easy 3-0 win at Troyes with Marcos Lopes being decisive again.
The Portuguese attacking midfielder, also known as Rony, scored twice for the Principality club. The most nail-biting game was Lyon’s home match against Nice. The visitors took the lead and it looked as if Marseille would sneak in as the third and final French team to make the Champions League. However, as has become customary in the last 9 Rounds in Ligue 1, Dutchman Memphis Depay carried Lyon with his goals and assists. Depay scored a hat-trick and made sure of Lyon’s comeback to secure Champions League qualification.
Making the Champions League is very important not only because it signals return to top European competition for Marseille but also due to the financial rewards of playing in what is considered the world’s elite club tournament.
Marseille fans will have to wait at least another year before seeing their team take on the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City & Juventus. Do you know French football? Can you compete with the best Fantasy Football managers in Ligue 1? If so, test your skills here https://ligue1fantasy.com
With an intriguing Ligue 1 season set to draw to a close, we look at the players we believe could make an impact on the final round of games.
Anthony Lopes, Lyon – 63 points
Lopes has had a strong season over the 2017/18 campaign and he will be disappointed to have conceded three last time out.
The French-born Portuguese keeper will be hoping to add to a haul of 14 clean sheets across the campaign as his side target second place.
Kamil Glik, Monaco – 60 points
Glik has secured an impressive 13 clean sheets this season for a Monaco side that Continue reading
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.
Heading into their important clash with OGC Nice, Olympique de Marseille were riding the crest of a wave following their exhilarating Europa League semi-final win over Red Bull Salzburg the previous Thursday.
And Rudi Garcia’s men appropriately celebrated qualifying for the final with a come from behind 2-1 win over the Eaglets at the weekend. Playing in what was a fluid 4-2-3-1 with plenty of rotations between their attackers, Lucien Favre’s men struggled to contain Marseille’s multifaceted front four of Dimitri Payet, Valere Germain, Lucas Ocampos and Florian Thauvin.
By persistently interchanging positions and roles, this ensured the Nice backline had difficulty settling into a rhythm to mark their adversaries, for OM persistently altered the defenders’ reference points. Indeed, through cohesively timing their movements, Marseille successfully manipulated their opposition, usually having one or two players on the shoulder of the last defender, plus another two positioned in threatening central attacking zones. This enabled them to stretch Nice’s structure vertically through runs in behind, while also giving the ball possessor strong central passing options.
Crucially, the centrally situated men in the 10 or half spaces also served them well if an opposing defender won an aerial duel, as they were subsequently in a great position to recover the second ball and attack the disorganised Nice backline.
With the full-backs providing width, in combination with the central midfielders shifting to the ball near side, this notably generated overloads for the home side to enhance their chances of progressing down whichever flank they were targeting.
Moreover, their determined defensive pressing, counterpressing and breathtaking counter attacking, were all additional highlights of their vital win, which sess them remain just one point behind AS Monaco, who currently occupy the final Champions League qualification slot in third place.
If things go to plan and they manage to overcome a superbly well drilled Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final, however, they won’t need to worry about their league finish, for they’ll earn a UCL spot through winning the coveted competition.
Entering the business end of the campaign, Marseille’s sights will be firmly set on doing as well as possible on both fronts, but winning the Europa League will unquestionably be their ultimate goal.
After all, winning the showpiece would be the perfect way to celebrate their fantastic season under Garcia.
How well do you know French football? Want to challenge the best Ligue 1 Fantasy Managers? Play https://ligue1fantasy.com/ now!
Here are the players we tip to make an impact in this week’s Ligue 1 action!
Anthony Lopes, Lyon – 63 points
Having been at Lyon for 18 years, Lopes is something of a legendary figure at the club nowadays.
The French-born Portuguese keeper will be hoping to add to a haul of 14 clean sheets across the campaign as target what would be a highly impressive second placed finish.
Djibril Sidibe, Monaco – 30 points
With his side facing the challenge of an off form Troyes, he will be looking to deliver a big performance on the weekend as he targets a potential place at the World Cup. Continue reading