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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Top Ligue 1 Strikers in 2018/19: Moussa Dembele

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Moussa Dembele came 6th in the Ligue 1 rankings as the best striker and he finished the season earning 65 points finishing just 1 point behind Andy Delort. The Lyon striker who helped his side to a 3rd place finish thus providing them with a chance to play in next seasons Champions League scored 15 goals and also assisted in a further 4, making him have quite a successful personal season.

Dembele is just 22 and it is interesting to see how his career has developed because even though he was born in France the wealth of his experience as a footballer is in the United Kingdom. That is because Premier League side Fulham bought him from the youth team of PSG when he was just 16. After spending three seasons with the club where he only scored 15 times he was sold to Scottish club Celtic where he fared quite better scoring 26 goals and winning six trophies with the Bhoys.

Lyon finally came in for him in 2018 and the chance to move back to France was simply too great and it would be to one of the best clubs. At Lyon in his debut season he has had a very good one, 15 goals is a fantastic return when we consider this is from just 21 starts. He did play a total of 33 games for the club last season but 12 of those started from the bench.

Dembele did not score in his first two games of the season and it wasn’t until his 3rd match that he chalked up the points although it was worth waiting for as he scored two goals in Lyon’s 3-0 win over Dijon earning him 8 points in the process. This would equal his best single match points tally which he repeated a further two times when Lyon beat Toulouse 5-1 and when they drew against Strasbourg 2-2.

His best form of the season was at the end of September and lasted for a month, scoring points in 4 consecutive games. He earned 16 points in that period.

The worst moments for Dembele came in February as he couldn’t find the net in 3 games in a row. Dembele ended the season consistently being able to earn an average of 4 points but in his last game of the season away to Nimes, which Lyon won 3-2 he wasn’t able to score a goal and didn’t earn any points.

This past season was Dembele’s best as a player and he looks frighteningly good when we consider his age. His value is 5m and that looks set to rise at the beginning of the upcoming season as he really fits into his role at Lyon.

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Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Houssem Aouar

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In his professional career Houssem Aouar has only ever known playing for Lyon, and the fans love the midfielder. One of the reasons for this is that Aouar is a local boy and was born in Lyon in 1998 just weeks after France won their first World Cup.

Aouar has grown into his role at Lyon over the last couple of seasons and is now seen as a natural selection when the team plays each season. What caught Lyon’s attention was that Aouar was to be found to be able to play in any position in midfield and he can play as a winger, attacking midfielder and even a holding one- that is priceless for a club and quite rare.

Aouar finished 6th in the European Fantasy League rankings for midfielders in Ligue 1 and ended up with a points total of 60, the same as Ismaila Sarr who plays for Rennes. The player started 35 games last season and was involved in 14 of Lyon’s goals- scoring 7 and assisting in 7. When he played Lyon had 10 clean sheets and he was only booked two times with no red cards showing his maturity and he is still only 21. His value last season was placed at 8m.

It was not a good start to the season for Aouar who in his first five games managed just 4 points. Arguably his best game came in November when Lyon played Guingamp away from home, it was a thrilling match that ended 4-2 to Lyon. Aouar scored a goal and assisted in another and was able to earn 6 points. He earned 6 points in two other games later that season for more assists and clean sheets but was not able to topple that score for one game.

His worst points tally came against PSG when Lyon lost 5-0. Because of his position he didn’t lose points for goals conceded but he did pick up a yellow card and ended the game with -1 point. To his credit this was the only game of the season where he ended with minus points.

Aouar’s best period of the season started when Lyon beat Nimes 2-0 in mid October and ran for the next four games where he remained consistent and so did his club and picked up 18 points.

Lyon chased for Europe but could not catch eventual runners up Lille who had a superb season themselves. However 3rd place for Lyon was good enough to enter the play-offs for the Champions League proper where they will feel very confident that they can qualify from.

The most impressive statement to make about Aouar is that he was Lyon’s best midfielder last season. Better than Nebil Fekir which says everything and statistically better than Tottenham bound Tanguy Ndombele. His future in football looks very exciting.

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Ndombele the great risk for Tottenham or a potential great?

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If relief had a sound then you could hear it amongst Tottenham fans as the club have agreed with Lyon to finally purchase Tanguy Ndombele for a reported £65m. The midfielder is understood to be signing this week for the club after having to pass a medical. The question is just who have Tottenham bought?

One has to remember that Ndombele was plying his trade with Amiens the season before and Lyon bought him last summer for just £7m- they have won nothing this season, and never looked like doing so- and his value has risen by almost £60m. That would suggest he is Lyon’s outstanding player? Not so.

Looking at how Ndombele performed statistically in the European Fantasy League rankings we can see that Ndombele wasn’t even Lyon’s best midfielder let alone being their best player.

In Ligue 1 midfielders alone Ndombele finished in 27th position. His ranking by position for all midfielders in major leagues was 177th with his overall ranking as a player at 449th. While it is true that stats can only get us so far, paying £65m for a player of Ndombele’s standing seems wrong, inflated and grotesque.

His achievements thus far have been zero, still he is young and at 22 Tottenham are hoping that is where his value lies. There has been talk that Tottenham are about to buy the next Michael Essien, perhaps they are and in an ideal world he will stay for six seasons, win trophies and become a club legend before being sold to Real Madrid for £200m. It could happen, and it could not.

Lyon’s value of the player is simply a joke, he has not improved by £60m over one season, but at the same time he has made the French squad four times albeit in friendlies. One has to wonder what Lyon’s valuation would be for Nebil Fekir, who did have a better season than Ndombele and is regarded as a huge player for Lyon even though he wasn’t deemed good enough to start for France at last summer’s World Cup.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that Ndombele’s arrival will be the first of many, but does club owner Daniel Levy think that way? The good news is that the club are about to splash the cash after being linked too Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis with a reported £60m deal on the cards, of course these figures fluctuate depending on who you believe. But that deal seems to have stalled. Then there was Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Club in Portugal but they could have a fight on their hands with Manchester United for his signature.

The club are at an important moment in their history, right dead bang on centre to moving on from the pretenders of yesteryear when an odd cup was good enough. There is a sense within the club that they can start winning important trophies and build a legacy on it. And it is all going to start this summer, that’s if Pochettino can get his players and Levy to open up his chequebook again.

Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Ismaila Sarr

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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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Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Mike Maignan

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What has been PSG’s loss has been Lille’s gain and if anything is to be said of this season it’s that Mike Maignan has a bright future ahead of him.

The 23 year old from French Guiana has been superb this season and at one point it looked like he would be PSG’s number 1 goalkeeper. Coming up through their ranks he was instead overlooked as PSG spent big money dispensing with youth and Lille took the player under their wings, first in the B team and now the senior. He has been Lille’s first choice goalkeeper for the last 3 seasons, but has really broken through in the last two.

In the Ligue 1 football fantasy rankings Maignan finished in 2nd place with 84 points and just 7 shy of first place held by Walter Benitez. His value for this season was just 5m and that is sure to rise for the beginning of next season.

Lille of course had a successful season and while they did not win any trophies they finished 2nd and runner up to PSG which was no mean feat with Lyon chasing them until the final weeks of the season. In Ligue 1 only the first two places are guaranteed a Champions League group stage place with 3rd having to play in a qualifying round, so it was important for Lille to finish 2nd and now they have automatically qualified for Europe’s greatest prize.

Maignan was a huge part of this Lille side as he kept an impressive 15 clean sheets during the season. His overall ranking with all players would be 44th but his overall ranking with all goalkeepers in the major leagues would be an impressive 8th, that’s great going for such a young goalkeeper.

Maignan had many good highlights of the season, gaining what has become the maximum points for a goalkeeper unless they score a goal by achieving 7 points. One of his best periods was the final 16 games of the season when Lille and Lyon were battling each other in a Champions League run in that saw Maignan keep 9 clean sheets from the last 16 games.

With Maignan in such great form towards the end of the season it was ironic that on the very final game he earned the least points of his entire season as Lille lost 3-1 to Rennes and he ended up with -4 points.

It wasn’t all easy going for Maignan whose worst month was January when he earned 0 points but he was able to bounce back and in the end Walter Benitez and Mike Maignan were head and shoulders above any other goalkeeper in Ligue 1.

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Ligue 1: Week 38: Player Picks for the Weekend

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Almost everything has been settled in Ligue 1, we know the champions, the teams who will participate in the Champions League and Europa League. The only real football up for debate is who will be the final team to be relegated and/or have to play in a play-off with a Ligue 2 side, which is what the team finishing in 18th place will have to do.

That battle is between Caen and Amiens, and Amiens has a 2 point advantage over Caen. Monaco could still finish in the bottom three but that looks very distant and they should be safe, however they will have a tough final game as it is the derby v Nice.

Below we pick out 11 players in a formation of 4-4-2 who could pick up points at the weekend in the final games of the Ligue 1 season.

Goalkeeper: Brice Samba-Caen

Brice Samba has kept 3 clean sheets in the past five games for Caen who need to beat Bordeaux to have a chance to stay up. Bordeaux have been very poor and Caen are at home. Samba is only 3m to buy which is fantastic value.

Defender: Alexander Djiku- Caen

Staying with Caen Djiku has played the most games for the club in defence and even though he has a poor points tally, and the club let in 4 goals v Lyon in their last game. It is this one that counts. Caen will be favourites to beat Bordeaux and Djiku could keep another clean sheet. He is valued at 7m.

Defender: Diego Carlos- Nantes

Diego Carlos has been Nantes best defender stats wise and has 23 points. He is valued at 6m. Nantes will play their last game of the season at home and they will host Strasbourg, for us this is a home win and Nantes also have a good chance to keep a clean sheet.

Defender: Mathieu Debuchy- Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne celebrated Europa League qualification as they sealed fourth place last weekend. They will play Angers away and this could be a low scoring game or at least a win for the away side. Debuchy could pick up points for a clean sheet, but he also likes to come forward for the Verts and scores too. He can be bought for 7.5m.

Defender: Wesley Lautoa- Dijon

Dijon are still not down and if they win at the weekend and Caen do not get the right result they could finish 18th and have the play off. Dijon have conceded goals lately but they will play Toulouse at the weekend a side who are in general poor. Plus Lautoa costs just 3m and this could be a steal.

Midfielder: Remi Oudin- Reims

Reims will play PSG and they will be the underdogs to win. But at the same time Reims have been able to surprise them in recent years and will want to give a good performance with their final home game of the season. Oudin has scored 10 goals which makes him a dangerous player and he is valued at 10m.

Midfielder: Florian Thauvin- Marseille

Florian Thauvin is one of the best players in the league and he loves to get forward and score goals. He won the player of the weekend this past weekend. But he has just 4 goals in 2019, he will be determined to add more like he was in the last game when he scored a brace. Thauvin has 89 points and would cost 11m.

Midfielder: Valentin Rongier- Nantes

Rongier has had a great second half to the season much like his club Nantes. They play at home against Strasbourg and will be the favourites to win the match. Rongier has scored 4 goals and assisted in 5 so there is points in him and he is valued at 4.5m.

Midfielder: Jordan Ferri- Nimes

Picking Jordan Ferri is all about value and he is just 3m to bring into your team. Yes Nimes will play Lyon at the weekend but they will be at home and Lyon will feel more relaxed given that they have secured 3rd place. Nimes have played some good football and have goals in them.

Striker: M’baye Niang- Rennes

Rennes will be at home in their final game and will play on form Lille. But this pick is based on scoring goals and Niang will be a constant threat. He has scored 9 goals and assisted in another four and he could be a shrewd pick at just 4.5m.

Striker: Gaetan Laborde- Montpellier

Gaetan Laborde has had a decent season and while Montpellier will be away to Marseille this is a game where anything can happen and we expect to see lots of chances and goals for both sides. Laborde has every chance to get on the end of something and he is valued at 5m, he has scored 11 goals this season.

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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.

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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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Ligue 1: Player of the Weekend: Maxwell Cornet

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With a few clean sheets this past weekend in Ligue 1 goal keepers ruled the roost with plenty earning 7 points, but the overall winner is Lyon’s Maxwell Cornet who earned 8 points as his side overcame Marseille at Stade Velodrome winning 3-0.

Cornet opened the scoring from close range and it was an important strike as at that time Marseille were applying pressure and asking many questions from the visitors. Cornet struck again to get his 2nd and Lyon’s 3rd goal of the night with just four minutes remaining. The player has proven to score goals and be reliable even if he isn’t always Lyon’s number 1 choice, he is a classic ‘fox in the box’ type of player and is usually in the right place at the right time. Cornet could have had a hat-trick but he had one goal ruled out for offside.

Cornet’s goals at the weekend ended Marseille’s European hopes for next season and strengthened his sides chances of finishing in a Champions League position. Lyon remain 3rd which means they would have to partake in a play-off to get to the competition proper but they are 6 points adrift of 2nd placed Lille. This win was still huge though as Saint Etienne who were threatening to take 3rd from them lost and that gap is now 4 points with just 2 games to play, so Lyon are almost at the finish line.

Lyon’s coach Bruno Genesio had this to say about the match and the possibility of playing Champions League football next season: ”Are we in the Champions League yet? No. There are two games left, six points, and we must win next Saturday to be certain of a third-place finish and possibly qualify directly depending on the Europa League final. The score was a bit harsh but we could’ve led 2-0 at half-time. We had a lull in the second half and Marseille pushed, but I think on the whole we deserved to win. We had two goals at the start of the season. The first was to get to the knockout stage of the Champions League, which we achieved, and the second was to qualify for next season’s competition, which is nearly done.”

As for Cornet from only his 10th start of the season after appearing from the bench no less than 15 times he has scored 4 goals and assisted in another 3. That means that Cornet has been involved in 11% of Lyon’s total output of goals this season. He has a total of 21 points in Ligue 1 Fantasy football rankings and is valued at 6m. With Lyon pushing in their final 2 games of the season and Cornet on obvious form he might be worth adding to your team.

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