Thomas Tuchel’s version of PSG is set to be the best ever

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When PSG strolled to a 3-0 victory over Nice at the end of September it seemed to go by without much fuss and why should it as everyone expected the champions to win the game. However more fuss and attention should have surrounded this historic result. In beating Patrick Vieira’s team, PSG had just equalled an 82 year old Ligue 1 record by winning their first 8 games of the season.

The record was held by Lille in the 1935/36 season and had stood for that long despite PSG being dominant in France since their takeover from the 2011/12 season onwards. In order to break the record the club from Paris would have to play an old foe in Lyon. Lyon of course dominated French football themselves in the 2000s winning 7 titles in a row and whilst they are a team now playing second fiddle to PSG they still would not have been chosen as the team you had to beat to break an historic record.

A few weeks ago this Lyon side had travelled to Manchester in the Champions League and stunned Manchester City by beating them and they had started to pick up form and points in the domestic league. But the match would be held in Paris where PSG have simply been irresistible.

Ninety minutes later PSG had not only broken the record they had done it in style by beating a genuine league rival 5-0. PSG had just won 9 games in a row thanks to a Neymar goal and a stunning performance by Kylian Mbappe who scored 4 goals in 13 glorious minutes to break another Ligue 1 record.

One has to wonder if, under current coach Thomas Tuchel, PSG have their best team since their takeover and indeed they are proving wholeheartedly to have the best team ever in Ligue 1 history.

The club have 27 points after just 9 games and their nearest challenger is Lille who are 8 points behind on 19. The only team to stop PSG’s title runs have been Monaco who won in 2017 and they are already 21 points behind. PSG are scoring almost 4 goals a game and at home they have scored 19 times from just 5 games and conceded just 2. The team are on fire and have a belief in breaking records and winning the league in record time.

Of course the wider view will be that their season will be judged on how well they do in the Champions League. They were unfairly criticised when they lost to Liverpool 3-2 in their opening game of the competition. Many teams will lose at a packed out and atmospheric Anfield- what will count more for Tuchel will be how his side react when they play Liverpool in Paris. And PSG were clearly not at their best that night and yet came back from 2-0 down and could have drawn the game. The team remains a real danger to any side in Europe.

However they have historically made too many errors and a bad lack of judgement in the competition against the better teams. But if PSG can play like this then they have every chance of going very far in this seasons edition of the competition.

PSG’s Mbappe returns to action and breaks Ligue 1 record

mbappe4A couple of weeks back we reported about how Kylian Mbappe would serve a third match suspended following his sending off against Nimes last month, having previously hoped to get away with two matches on the sidelines. That suspension is now over of course, and this past weekend Mbappe lined up for his first home game since returning to the team with Lyon as the guests. The first half was a fairly run of the mill 45 minutes, with PSG going into the interval holding a 1-0 lead thanks to a first half penalty from Neymar. The second half, however, produced the type of football that fans in attendance could one day look back and say “I was there”. In just 13 second half minutes, Mbappe set the world alight once again – and made history while doing so.

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Elite Premier League teams are struggling in the Champions League

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We are often told that the Premier League is the best in Europe if not the World and yet the Champions League has been a good measure of failure for the very best Premier League teams not just so far this season but for a good few years now.

The last time that an English team won the competition was Chelsea back in 2012 when they beat Bayern Munich and before that we have to go back to 2008 when Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties in an all Premier League final. Apart from Liverpool’s run to the final this year no team has reached the showpiece event since Chelsea won it.

This season the Champions League has kicked off with a massive wake up call for the teams that have qualified. Take Premier League champions Manchester City, vying for their first ever European Cup, they lost their opening game at home to Ligue 1 side Lyon. In their next game they found themselves 1-0 down to Hoffenheim within a minute of the game starting, although clawed their way back to stake a 2-1 win, but they had to work very hard for the result. Had City drawn or lost that game they could have been looking at an early exit from a competition where they have been tipped as the favourites to win just a few weeks ago.

Manchester United have had all sorts of problems in the Premier League but last season they racked up 82 points to finish 2nd. In the Champions League they won easily against Young Boys but suffered a 0-0 draw at the hands of Valencia in their next game. Had this match taken place in Spain this result would have been acceptable- but it didn’t and that is 2 clear points dropped for Jose Mourinho’s team. Add to the fact that they still have to play Juventus twice and United may not qualify for the next round, their chances are certainly in the air at the moment.

Liverpool looked impressive in their 3-2 win over PSG at Anfield, though they were leading that game at one point 2-0. But when they travelled to Italy to play Napoli they lost 1-0. True Napoli’s goal came in the final exchanges where the game looked like it was heading for a 0-0 result but Liverpool did not have a shot on target the whole game and it looks clear whilst Liverpool may reign supreme at home they could well struggle away in Europe. Given that they still have to travel to Paris to play PSG this loss could come back and haunt the Reds.

And then there is Tottenham who pound for pound have been one of the best teams in England of the past 18 months. But when it really matters the club seem to come up short time and again and their latest loss to Barcelona which ended 4-2 could be the nail in the coffin to their Champions League hopes this season. They are already 6 points behind both Barcelona and Inter Milan and their best shot now looks like trying to qualify for the Europa League.

All in all the best teams in the Premier League have struggled in Europe, unable to adapt to a plan B and finding out that defending on the continent is much more superior to the Premier League. On this evidence it doesn’t seem likely that a club from England will be winning the competition this year which would stretch the winless run to 7 editions. That would be the longest ever that a club from the Premier League has gone without winning it. The current record is 6 editions from the inaugural start of the Champions League up to 1998, with Manchester United infamously winning it in 1999.

For all the money being pumped into the league it isn’t guaranteeing success on the highest level.

PSG could have Ligue 1 title wrapped up within a few months

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Who is going to give current French champions PSG a run for their money this season? The answer after 4 games is no one.

That sure sounds like depressing news as far as Ligue 1 is concerned with PSG opening up a 3 point gap at the top already. The team actually look at their best since 2012 when they started to dominate French football after being taken over and then having a seemingly bottomless pit of money to buy players with.

Not only do PSG have a 3 point lead at the top but in effect and for some it is more like a 5 point lead. That is because the teams currently in 2nd, 3rd and 4th position are Dijon, Toulouse and Lille. With all due respect neither of these teams are being counted on to keep up their challenge for the remainder of the season  and whilst all have started very well the odds are very much against them keeping that consistency.

That leaves us then with the usual suspects. First up is Marseille who are in 5th place with 7 points. Their last result was a superb 3-2 win at Monaco but they have had an indifferent if not unbalanced start to the season which includes drawing at home to Rennes and losing 3-1 away to newly promoted side Nimes.

Lyon have tried to close the gap in recent seasons to PSG but find themselves in 8th place and already 6 points behind the champions. They have already lost 2 games this season, something which PSG may not do until halfway into it. Can we write them off, most probably.

Then of course there is Monaco, a team on the face of it that we should take seriously since they are the only team to have stopped PSG’s utter dominance since 2012 when they won the league title in 2017. Alas they are a team who like to sell on their best players and they have lost so much quality that they are a shadow of the side we could once rely on to win games week in and week out. That was finalised with the sale of Kylian Mbappe to PSG for over 100m euros. Yes the money was too good not to take but Monaco have also sold the one player that could have changed their fortunes and the club have sold quite possibly the best teenager in the world to their biggest domestic rival.

Monaco are currently in 13th place and for a team that would normally be bear hugging PSG for much of the season it is sad to see them less than a month into it 8 points behind.

That leaves us back with PSG a team that in theory last season had won the title by Christmas. And whilst it remains true that no team no matter how great they are can win a league so early, they can stretch their lead so much that in effect other teams give up, that’s why in a few months time PSG in theory yet again will be league champions, anything else will simply be a stay of execution until billionaire owners open up the league more and takeover PSG’s closest rivals, until then PSG will dominate in France.

Mariano is a clever signing for Real Madrid

Under Zinedine Zidane, a route between the young ranks and the first team was established at Real Madrid. It was a path followed by the likes of Marco Asensio, Jesus Vallejo, Marcos Llorente and Lucas Vazquez, but not Mariano Diaz, who was sold in the summer of 2017.

Now, the striker is back at the Santiago Bernabeu, returning to the Spanish capital after a year at Lyon, where he impressed, scoring 18 goals in 37 games. Real Madrid were desperate for a striker before the close of the summer transfer window and they have got one in the form of a familiar face.

Mariano

Some will argue that Mariano’s return is an illustration of Real Madrid’s wastefulness. Mariano was always a good squad player for them and arguably should have been kept last summer. The wisdom in allowing both Mariano and Alvaro Morata to leave in the same window was questionable, at best.

But at least Real Madrid have now corrected their initial mistake. Mariano will provide competition in attack for the likes of Karim Benzema and even Gareth Bale. The loss of Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid a little light in the attacking positions, but now they have Mariano, along with Borja Mayoral, to at least ease the burden on Benzema in particular.

Benzema struggled at times last season, scoring just five goals in La Liga all season long. The Frenchman might even have left Real Madrid had Ronaldo not beat him to departing the club, with the club’s notoriously tough-to-please support making a habit of whistling and jeering the 30-year-old.

From Mariano’s perspective, there might be a chance for him to establish himself as a first team figure. This Real Madrid team are in the midst of a transition following the exit of Ronaldo and Zidane at the end of last season. Right the way through the squad, there are youngsters looking to break into the first team over the coming campaign and Mariano is one such name on that list.

On the basis of his performances over the first few games of the new season, Benzema has been revitalised by his break over the summer. The sale of Ronaldo to Juventus has given him more freedom across the frontline. He no longer has to make way for the Portuguese forward. Real Madrid’s formation is now built around Benzema.

Mariano was close to joining Sevilla, with Lyon accepting a bid for the striker before Real Madrid came in with their own offer. But Julen Lopetegui made a personal play to sign Mariano. “Julen called me and told me he would be happy if I came back,” Mariano explained. “A great part of it was when he told me was counting on me.”

Signed as a back-up option, don’t be surprised if Mariano ends up playing an important role at Real Madrid this season. The young striker has proved his doubters, which included Real Madrid wrong at every turn.

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Ligue 1 stars Mbappe, Neymar, Fekir, Depay, Thauvin & Cavani back in Action!

Ligue 1 kicks-off on Friday, August 10th with Marseille hosting Toulouse! The French fans have celebrated a glorious summer with the likes of Kylian Mbappe helping Les Bleus lift the World Cup! However, this Friday, Fantasy Football Managers will be looking to the likes of Florian Thauvin to earn precious fantasy points in the long and exciting quest to be crowned best Ligue 1 Fantasy Manager!

While PSG may be clear favorites to repeat as champions, in particular with Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar all on the club’s payroll, Lyon- as long as they keep Nabil Fekir, have an exciting and fun core in Fekir, Memphis Depay, Bertrand Traore and striker Mariano. Marseille have some good players, and not just Thauvin, but it will be hard for them to compete with PSG in a long season due to the low budget limiting the club’s ability to lure quality signings.

Finally, Monaco have sold players again this summer but they have made a habit of rebounding and performing well with the help of clever signings and quality work by coach Leonardo Jardim.

So who will be on your Ligue 1 Fantasy Team? How about Cavani who is PSG’s all-time leading scorer (he surpassed Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s record last season), or perhaps iconic Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon?

Remember to play now and invite your friends to join your Mini-League! It is Free to join, so what are you waiting for? If you believe you have what it takes to challenge other Ligue 1 Fantasy managers then click the following link now: https://ligue1fantasy.com/users/register and prove your knowledge of French football!

 

Marseille miss out as Monaco & Lyon qualify for Champions League

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

Will Marseille’s week go from bad to worse?

Marseille 0-3 Atletico Madrid. The scoreline suggested a comprehensive win for Atleti, however, Marseille fans would beg to differ. The OM supporters would argue their team was in the ascendancy for the first twenty minutes of the game yet Dimitri Payet’s injury deprived the club of its star performer.

Atleti were never going to concede silly goals & the Spaniards were always going to put up a fight in the middle of the park. The end result was a deserved triumph for Atleti who presented coach Diego Simeone with his 2nd Europa League trophy since joining the club. For Marseille, a promising week may yet end on a more sour note if OM fail to beat Amiens in Ligue 1 later today.

The southern French club is fighting with Monaco and Lyon for 2 Champions League spots. Ligue 1 champions PSG have obviously secured the other spot reserved for France in Europe’s elite competition. The consequences of missing out on Champions League football for another season will be dire not just in terms of finishing 4th in Ligue 1 behind PSG, Monaco & Lyon but also the missed opportunity of bringing in much needed revenue.

The Champions League guarantees a financial windfall via both the allocated revenue for French clubs but also via game day tickets and further merchandise sales. Marseille will likely beat Amiens but their fate will be decided by Monaco and Lyon. If the latter two sides win their games, then Marseille must settle for a disappointing 4th place finish in Ligue 1.

In what appeared to be a promising season at one stage has slowly descended into a chaotic and disappointing one. Things may still get worse if OM fail to snatch 2nd or 3rd place in the French League.

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Round 38 – Ligue 1 player picks

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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

Ligue 1 fantasy picks for week 37

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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