Ligue 1 Round Up: PSG roar on as Lyon’s bus is attacked in Marseille

The 13th week in Ligue 1 saw champions PSG reinstate their 8 point advantage at the top of the standings.

PSG were impressive away to Brest who had not lost at home this season and they came out 2-1 winners at a tough ground. Angel Di Maria opened the scoring and the impressive Mauro Icardi grabbed the winner. Icardi has been one of the most important signings made up PSG coach Thomas Tuchel as the club have repeatedly had injuries to their famed front three. This game was no different as both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were missing, but it was another 3 points for the club in the end.

Marseille have roared into 2nd place mostly because other clubs keep dropping points but they have won 3 of their last four games. At the weekend the club played a grudge match against Lyon, and these two famous rivals served up a treat which Marseille won 2-1. That stopped Lyon’s revival under new coach Rudi Garcia. Although Lyon’s team bus was attacked before the game and the club would have been shaken by that. One is reminded of when the same thing happened to Manchester City’s bus when they took on Liverpool in the Champions League.

Whilst the result leaves Lyon in 14th place with 16 points they are just six points behind 2nd placed Marseille, and there is a lot still to play for in the league.

Angers could have remained 2nd but slipped up to Reims and could only draw 0-0. They also ended the game with 10 men and the club have only won 1 game from their past five. One of the best form teams at the moment is Saint Etienne who have picked up 13 points from their last available 15. The club gained their 6th victory of the season when they beat Nantes 3-2 away from home. As for Nantes who were 2nd just a few weeks ago they are going through their worst form of the season and have now dropped to 9th place after losing 4 games in a row.

The bottom of the league remains tight. Nimes are last with 11 points and yet one win would take them into safety, but those wins will have to start coming soon. The club lost to Strasbourg 4-1. The worst form side of the league Toulouse are in 19th after losing 3-0 at Montpellier and Dijon remain in 18th after a close 1-0 defeat at the hands of Monaco.

Ligue 1 football resumes from the weekend of 22nd November where PSG will be at home against 5th place Lille. Marseille will take on Toulouse and be favourites to win that game. Can PSG’s 8 point lead be caught up? Probably not but that is the question on every French football fans’ mind. Only time will tell.

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PSG lose another game in Ligue 1 but get away with it

PSG lost their 3rd game of the season, something which usually doesn’t happen until around April and yet they are still 7 points in the lead in Ligue 1, in a season which is looking quite bland as far as who will win the league title goes.

This latest defeat was perhaps the most surprising as the club were playing Dijon who are struggling badly in the league and look set for a relegation dog fight. Whilst it is true that Dijon’s form has picked up no one expected them to get anything against the champions even if they were at home last Friday night.

What made matters worse was that PSG opened the scoring and it looked like only a matter of time before the league leaders would add to that, but it didn’t happen. Dijon actually fought back and won 2-1, that winning goal coming after a great solo run from Jhonder Cadiz.

Dijon coach Stephane Jobard said: “I’m happy for my players because they were rewarded for their efforts. We caused PSG problems and were also able to hold them off. It’s a great chapter in the club’s history, and proves to me that we belong in Ligue 1″ He continued: “I’m certain of my players mental strength, and we showed character in equalising before the break. We scored at key times: at the end of the first half and the start of the second. That ruined things a bit for PSG, because after that they became a little too individualist.”

With PSG losing it meant that 2nd placed Nantes could take full advantage and close the points gap to 5, but the Canaries lost to Bordeaux 2-0 to make it 3 defeats in a row. This has let in Angers who have gone back up to 2nd place after they beat Strasbourg 1-0. At the end of the weekend PSG can be content in knowing that they only lost 1 point

Next PSG will play in the Champions League and their next domestic match will be against Brest. On paper this should be 3 points but Brest are at home and unbeaten their all season and have proved to be very solid. It should be an interesting game and we have seen already that if teams are willing to give PSG a game this one can struggle.

Is Thomas Tuchel’s job under threat? For now that answer is no, but if the club struggle some more in the league and do not win the Champions League, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is his last season.

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PSG’s rout of Marseille confirms Ligue 1 as a one team league

The beginning of the season in France’s Ligue 1 just felt different. It may have been because the champions every year except in 2017 since 2012, PSG had suffered through transfer speculation all summer about Neymar. It looked as if the Brazilian was certain to leave, he wanted to, and yet a proposed deal to Barcelona or Real Madrid fell through and Neymar and PSG were stuck with one another, not that PSG ever wanted Neymar to leave in the first place.

Then there was the beginning of the season, PSG had a poor pre-season and then lost a couple of early games. Losing at this stage of the season just didn’t feel normal at all. When the club then lost 2-0 at home against Reims that was simply seen as a shock, this PSG weren’t supposed to lose in Paris, and if they did then it would happen in April with the season long over not in September.

On top of PSG’s league problems was their attacking front three, when on form look like the deadliest in Europe. Edinson Cavani a veteran now also looked like he would be leaving in the summer but he couldn’t find a good deal. But he has spent most of the opening campaign injured. Neymar also started the season injured, then came back and duly earned 9 points for the club in four games, his goals in single goal games won games and won over the fans, even the ultras who had warned Neymar that it would take a long time to win their trust back. Think of Neymar what you will, he is a world class player and a summer of discontent has not changed that fact.

However on recent international duty Neymar was injured and the forward is not expected back until after the November international break. So attentions turned to Kylian Mbappe the outstanding French forward but he has also missed key games through injury. He is back now and has simply continued scoring goals, it is amazing to think that Mbappe is just 20 years old. Mbappe has scored 8 goals in all competitions this season totalling 9 games. And for PSG overall he has scored 68 goals in 96 appearances that is simply fantastic.

So with PSG having a stop/start beginning to their season one could think that even if they win the league it would be much more competitive than it has been in recent years, not so. PSG might have lost 2 games already seen this but just thank the big man upstairs that they have because they are winning their other games and destroying others. This includes smashing Marseille 4-0 at the weekend with two goals each for Mbappe and Mauro Icardi. Make no mistake that PSG coach Thomas Tuchel was on the money bringing in quality like Icardi to PSG when their strikers were getting injured.

So after 11 games PSG have 27 points from a maximum of 33 and in fact that’s very impressive so impressive that the other clubs simply cannot keep up with them. Nantes are the surprise team in 2nd place but they have lost their last two games and are 8 points behind PSG. Last December it was clear that only PSG would win the league and that looks like easily being the case again.

One of the main problems is that Lille who finished as runners up last season sold a couple of their best players and Lyon started the season with Sylvinho in charge only to sack him after a few months. Lyon will improve after a shocking start to the season but they are already 14 points behind PSG as a consequence.

The French league has a lot to like about it, and sometimes fans of other leagues don’t see this. But there is one glaring problem, we already know who will be the league champions with 27 more games left to play and that can’t be good for anyone.

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Lyon appoint Rudi Garcia after nightmare start to the Ligue 1 season

Lyon have had their worst start to a Ligue 1 campaign in an era and they have been swift to act. Before week 10 coach Sylvinho was dismissed and he has been replaced by Rudi Garcia but can Garcia improve the team and is he the right man?

That answer looks to be a yes and a yes. Appointing Garcia is the flipside of appointing Sylvinho, the ex-Arsenal man like for example Thierry Henry at Monaco had no top tier level experience and surely bringing him in to a club like Lyon at this early stage of his managerial career was as they say in French a faux pas.

Garcia though is a different cattle of fish and here we have a coach who has spent over 15 seasons managing teams in Ligue 1. His most recent job was with Marseille where the 55 year old spent 3 seasons and had his fair share of ups and downs but one must remember that the team stayed a consistent top 5 side.

His average career win rate is 47% which in managerial terms isn’t as bad as it looks and with Lille he hit 50%, he also hit 51% at his time with Roma. He has won 2 trophies, the Ligue 1 title and a cup both with Lille in 2011. So even though it has been some time he does have some trophies under his belt.

Make no mistake though with the start that Lyon have had where they are in the bottom half of the league with 9 points and a massive 12 points behind leaders PSG the objective for Lyon isn’t trophies but recovery. True a deep run in a cup competition will be welcomed, and the knockout stages of the Champions League too, but this season Lyon’s owners wanted to challenge PSG and give them a run for their money, and that will be the clear objective. If they can’t win the league, then come 2nd and get the club back on the map.

Lyon will host Dijon who are in 19th place and this seems to be the perfect opportunity for the club to bounce back even if Dijon have shown promise lately by winning two games in a row. Garcia has proven that he has what it takes, but it will be fascinating to see how he does it and how he deploys a team who have lost quality players including Nabil Fekir this season.

Don’t write off Lyon just yet will be the message from the south east of France, a sleeping giant may just have awoken.

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Lyon in crisis as they sack Sylvinho after just 141 days in charge

Lyon have sacked coach Sylvinho after just 141 days in charge as the club have made their worst start to a Ligue 1 season in 23 years.

The news of Sylvinho’s sacking was a shock given that he had just taken the job in the summer but Lyon have been very poor by their standards in the league. The problem for the ex-Arsenal player was that he did not have a resume to back up that everything will work out well, this was his first proper managerial job- and to be fair it showed.

Tactics went out of the window and chaos ensued as he directed the defenders not to cross the halfway line and then wouldn’t let star players such as Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele play together.

Pre-season results were also poor barring an away win against Arsenal. Although Lyon looked to be PSG’s strongest challengers at the beginning of the season as they opened up the campaign with 2 wins, scoring 9 goals and conceding none, that has dramatically changed since then.

Lyon have won just 2 games all season and at the time of Sylvinho’s sacking the club are in 14th place with 9 points a huge 12 points behind PSG. But has the club jumped the gun and not thought through this properly?

In truth given time Sylvinho may well have found the right system and there has been encouraging moments but keeping him would mean giving up European football for next season and seeing the club possibly finish out of the top 10, that would be too much for a proud team like Lyon. It does seem early to pull the trigger but a wider thought would have been taken on, and this could be the right decision. For Sylvinho this will come as a big blow, but at the end of the day Lyon could well be to blame. Is it correct to appoint a manager with no first tier experience in the game? That is why sporting director Juninho could be next to go.

The next question turns to who will replace Sylvinho? Laurent Blanc has been made the favourite and that could be a good solid choice. Arsene Wenger’s name has appeared once again, but the former Arsenal great looks unlikely to coach again, although he has admitted that he misses the game. Another name being linked is Jose Mourinho, with the money the club have maybe he would be tempted, but in the past he has dismissed coaching in Ligue 1.

We should know the outcome in the next 10 days or so as Lyon try and save their season.

 

 

PSG fans must back up Neymar now after 2 goals in 2 games as PSG beat Lyon

Neymar the magician who is Brazilian did it again, didn’t he? After a summer where he has spoken negatively about his club PSG and wanting a move away to Barcelona, he has come straight back into the team and earned the club 6 points straight off the bat.

He is turning into an enigma someone that is hard to figure out. It is easy to throw negative criticism at him too. His lack of passion and loyalty seemed fairly evident, like a baby throwing out his toys he wanted out of one of the most successful teams in world football to play for another. His feelings were clear. One could think of the endless run of kids in and around Paris dreaming to play for the club and the youths who have been rejected at the final hurdle- the commitment, the passion and the loyalty. And then look over at Neymar who was playing with his career at the club and seemingly didn’t care.

But what Neymar has, which the other hopefuls don’t is sheer and utter quality. It is why he can want a move away with his career feeling like it is coming to an end in France and then come back and produce wonder goals, each time saving his club and winning the game.

A few weeks ago he scored an outrageous bicycle kick in injury time against Strasbourg with the tie at 0-0. And then this past weekend PSG travelled to a direct league rival in Lyon. Again the score tied at 0-0 before Neymar went on a mazy solo run and scored with the winner with just two minutes remaining.

Neymar is an unbelievable player and in a generation where Brazilian football has stalled on produced attacking greats, he is one of them and perhaps the only genuine one. The heir apparent to the likes of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho before him.

The hardcore PSG fans known as the ultras put out a statement upon Neymar’s return that they won’t easily forgive the player, and to be fair it did seem understandable. But after these 2 games, that’s 2 return goals and more than that it is clear without the player that they would have drawn those games and had 4 less points as a result. That would mean PSG would have 11 points now and Angers would in fact be top, with PSG resigned down to 4th place and that is the reality of the situation.

It might be hard for the ultra fans or even regular PSG fans to admit this, but the team can’t afford to be without Neymar, he is simply that good a player.

 

 

Despite a summer of discontent Neymar proves he is one of the best players in world football

Neymar was back at the weekend for PSG after a summer trying to leave the French champions. The Brazilian could not force a move and the teams he wanted to move to in Barcelona and Real Madrid couldn’t afford him anyway. Under intense pressure to do well Neymar showed his class when he really had to and scored the winner against Strasbourg.

This wasn’t just any type of goal, this was a goal sent from the heavens that changed all of the sports headlines the world over because this game looked like it would end 0-0. In the final minute with PSG heading for a disappointing draw at home, Neymar latched onto a cross, and bicycle kick style shot for goal, the ball thundered in the net and the roar from the fans could be heard outside Paris.

At first Neymar did not celebrate then buoyed by his team mates he couldn’t resist but not too, the villain in this piece had suddenly turned to the hero.

What PSG’s ultra fans thought of that will be interesting. They put out a statement a few days ago saying that Neymar had disrespected the club and that it would take a long time to earn Neymar’s trust back. Well in a matter of seconds he went a long way to doing that.

Criticism is thrown at Neymar, the way he acts, the way he goes tumbling down and he has been wrong in trying to force a move out of Paris this summer. But one thing that can’t be taken from the Brazilian is just how supremely talented he is, when you see goals like he scored at the weekend then you know he is amongst the worlds best footballers- that’s what paying 200m euros does to a team and that’s why PSG were so stubborn in not wanting to sell him, no one could blame the club for that, when you see what Neymar can produce.

Something says that following this vital win and vital goal in such a vital game that Neymar’s forgiveness will be accepted much quicker from the die hard fans. Whilst some fans of ultra groups take everything within football too seriously, they did have a point, given that it should be an honour to play for PSG, and Neymar does need some making up to do. At the weekend he did that in the best possible fashion and after a summer of discontent, Neymar could have a very memorable season ahead of him, if that is what he so desires.

 

 

Ruthless PSG keep Neymar and now will go after the Ligue 1 title and Champions League

The transfer saga of Neymar finally ended on September 2nd when the extended European transfer window closed. And Neymar in the end has stayed at PSG, which was surprising news.

The Braziian had been a wantaway star for the past 3 months but a deal could not be secured between his suitors which were his former club Barcelona and Real Madrid. Though it is thought that Neymar’s preferred choice would have been Barca, well he ended up with none of them, the guest at a wedding how ends up single. What now for Neymar?

PSG will expect their player back after the international break where Neymar could play two friendlies, and they need him. The club have injuries to strikers Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe with Mbappe out for 4 weeks. Neymar needs to step in and hit the ground running and that means goals. How will fans react to Neymar still being in the team? True you’d want such a player, but he has talked only about wanting to leave the club. Once he starts scoring goals and winning games he will probably be invited back into the hearts of the fans, but long time loyal ones will be a little suspect of the player and he will have to earn their respect.

As for Neymar’s future, it’s very possible he could still leave in January, although that would mean he wouldn’t be able to play in the latter half of the Champions League. We must remember here is a player that doesn’t want to be in Paris, that reportedly wanted to pay 20m euros to help a deal go through. So his future with the French champions is still uncertain.

What is certain is PSG have been stubborn and ruthless over Neymar’s transfer, it’s something that you can’t blame them for. Why lose out financially on a player that cost you over 200m euros just a couple of seasons ago? At the same time you could argue that Neymar being in the club had become toxic, his friendship at least with Mbappe looks damaged. Again wins and goals could well help repair that.

Despite PSG having to face a less than happy beginning to the season they are still top of the league with 9 points and lead on goal difference from Rennes, Nice and Angers, and they will go after the league again. The step up in the Champions League is also required and out of all of the players coming in this summer one has to be impressed by their last minute loan signing of Mauro Icardi from Inter Milan. Icardi regularly gets 20 goals a season and he should be a success in France.

PSG may have already lost a game, and been in the press for the wrong reasons, but make no mistake every team in France should be worried, because they look stronger than ever.

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Why PSG are to blame for Neymar’s transfer saga

The Neymar transfer saga keeps on raging on and it is threatening to undermine PSG’s season, the champions have already lost one game and further more could happen until the team know exactly what is happnening with the Brazilian.

Tensions were brought to a head when in the curtain raiser of the season PSG beat Rennes in the cup competition, league champions who meet the cup winners and Neymar who didn’t play in the game went to be part of the photo celebrations but was pushed out of the photo by Kylian Mbappe, who now sees himself as PSG’s main player.

So Neymar has been very distant, some claim him to be injured that is the offical story, but let’s be honest, coach Thomas Tuchel is not going to select someone whose mind is clearly elsewhere.

It is clear that Neymar will never play for PSG again, so what is the delay all about? The obvious answer would be that PSG want a decent deal, after all they paid over 200m euros for him. The fact is that PSG should simply be looking for a long term deal and demand those terms. Players can be involved but they should be able to get back the money they invested. If it takes Barcelona or Real Madrid four or five years to finish up payments then so be it, PSG are not clamouring for money, and they don’t need it. So why not be able to wait for some payments, and get rid of the problem which is Neymar.

The saga of Neymar is not then Barcelona or Real Madrid’s fault to find the price tag and or players to swap, its solely down to PSG- Neymar has never wanted to be there, and getting him in the first place was the biggest mistake. PSG would still have won the league and cups they have entered, and so all in all his acquistions save for shirt sales and fan hype seems unfounded.

Now that PSG have made the mistake in getting Neymar, they need to sell him, the whole situation has made little sense. Except that the deal you want you can’t have now, but later it will work out. In being stubborn with a player they should never have bought they are making it toxic for the club and throughtout this summer PSG have been appearing in the press for all the wrong reasons. This one looks like it will drag until the deathly hours when the window finally closes on September 2nd. It couldn’t come quick enough.

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Brilliant Lyon emerge as the team to stop PSG in Ligue 1

Well what a start to the Ligue 1 season it has been for Lyon, who have won their opening two games of the season. But what has caught the attention is the way they are winning their games.

On the opening day of the season they made light work of Monaco playing them away from home they ran out 3-0 winners. Then yesterday they played their first game at home and sent their supporters to their homes happy beating Angers 6-0. It means that Lyon have secured first position and have scored 9 goals from two games and have yet to concede. Could there be any better start to a season?

What has made this one special is that the club have had so much change during the summer. First long time coach Bruno Genesio  left his position and was replaced by Sylvinho taking in his first managerial job. Arsenal fans will remember Sylvinho fondly with his time spent at the club in the 2000s.

Quality players have been sold on such as Tanguy Ndombele who went to Tottenham and Nebil Fekir who was sold to Real Betis, this has raised nearly 100m euros for the club. But Lyon haven’t just sat around and it was inevitable that they were going to buy players. In came Jeff Reine-Adelaide from Angers for 22m euros, Joachim Andersen from Serie A outfit Sampdoria for 21m euros and Thiago Mendes from Lille who had performed so well last season for 19.8m euros. And so from the sale of Tanguy Ndombele Lyon were able to bring in 3 fresh and quality players. Right now it is paying dividends.

Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele scored two goals apiece and it just shows that there are goals all over the pitch for this Lyon side. The real surprise has been the impact that Sylvinho has had on the team especially with his lack of management experience. This season was always going to be a turning point of sorts for the club, but it seems for now to be turning in the right direction.

With PSG’s shock loss, Lyon are top of the table though we shouldn’t get too carried away after just two games it is the clubs application, confidence and goals which has lit up the league in its earliest of stages.

In the next month Lyon will face some tough competition having to play the likes of Montpellier and PSG, and by the end of September we will have a clearer picture if Lyon will be a genuine threat to PSG’s dominance over Ligue 1. For now they certainly are.

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