Inter’s busy schedule should offer Dalbert chance to prove his worth

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“Thanks to God, I scored my first goal in the Inter shirt today. I’ve worked hard to experience moments like this, and I also want to thank my family. I did feel some fatigue this evening, but I worked hard and am happy with my performance. Scoring two goals early on helped us a lot, and we did well in terms of approaching the match in the right way and getting the result that we wanted. The team are working hard and did so during the winter break too. We all came back in the same physical condition as before.” Those were the words of Brazilian full-back Dalbert in the aftermath of the Nerazzurri’s 6-2 victory over Benevento on last weekend. Continue reading

Can Cesc Fabregas save Monaco from Ligue 2 football?

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Cesc Fabregas left Chelsea and the Premier League after many successful seasons to join Monaco, and the Ligue 1 club really need his services- but can the ex Barcelona and Arsenal star save Monaco from relegation?

Monaco have been languishing near the bottom of the league for most of the season and started 2019 in 19th place. Just before Fabregas joined Monaco enjoyed a very narrow 1-0 win in the Coupe de France against non league Canet Rousillon FC which just underlined how far the 2017 Ligue 1 champions have fallen. But with Fabregas in the ranks and Franck Passi now as Thierry Henry’s assistant the future might be bright for the side.

This as evident when Monaco travelled to the Stade Velodrome at the weekend to play Marseille- a game that everybody was expecting Marseille to win. The match finished 1-1 and Monaco came back from a goal down. It was a fantastic team effort and one wonders if the club buoyed on by the signing of Fabregas can now turn a corner?

Fabregas had a great game as he was drafted straight into the squad and manager Henry had this to say about the Spaniard. “Cesc Fabregas got better as the minutes ticked by. He managed to take the match in his grasp and read between the lines. We could have finished certain moves off better, but we’re on the right track.”

What was evident was how Fabregas teamed up so well with the Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans who ended up getting the equaliser for the team. But of course there has to be some degree of caution and Monaco clearly are not out of the woods yet.

Even though they got a great result at Marseille the club are still in 19th position and are 4 points from safety. The good news is that they have reached only the halfway stage of the campaign and they have plenty of time to escape from the bottom three. You’d have to think now with the capture of Fabregas and Passi in the wings that as long as the player stays fit and there is calm at the club that Monaco should have enough to stay up.

On Wednesday we will find out more about the club in the second half of the season as they face Nice in the derby at home. Nice already have double the points of Monaco and are good form having lost just one game from their past five, so this match will be a great indicator if things are going to change for them.

For now getting Fabregas on a 3 year deal could be a lifesaver.

Is Franck Passi about to take Thierry Henry’s job at Monaco?

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Since Thierry Henry took over as coach of Monaco it has been a nightmare in the south of France which has seen the team stuck in the bottom two of Ligue 1. One wonders if Henry’s role with the club is coming to an end with the announcement that Franck Passi has been drafted into the team as assistant.

Passi is well known in Ligue 1 as the ‘fixer’. He has done commendable caretaker jobs at clubs such as Marseille and Lille he is if you like the man who stabilises a club before a bigger name replaces him. The worry is that Henry already knows this and may just not get on with that idea. Time is certainly ticking for the ex Arsenal legend.

One of the biggest problems for Henry has been his attitude as seen through the French media who have reported that he seems disinterested at times, easily wound up and very moody on the touchline. In an era where it is difficult to criticise the modern day footballer- see Jose Mourinho for that, Henry continues to do so and when the team make mistakes he makes it very known. For some media they see Henry as a dead man walking at the club.

It has, for sure been incredibly hard for him. Henry has lost 9 games from the 14 managed at the club with a win rate of 21%. Just before the Ligue 1 season wrapped up for Christmas Monaco had to play Guingamp at home a game seen as one that should be three points, given that Guingamp have been ever poorer than Henry’s side this season. What followed was a 2-0 defeat and more misery for Henry. What was depressing is that Monaco had just 2 shots on target against the bottom club.

They are now 4 points from safety and yet with a decent run there is every chance that Monaco will not be relegated to Ligue 2. It is true that this isn’t all Henry’s fault but he was the wrong person to bring in only having some experience as an assistant with the Belgium national team beforehand. Most of the blame must go to the owners who have constantly sold their best players that now run into double figures in the last few seasons alone. That is the real reason that the 2017 champions could be relegated this season.

Ligue 1 kicks off again for Monaco on January 13th and it doesn’t get any easier for Monaco and Henry with an away trip to Marseille. Could a heavy defeat at Stade Velodrome signal the end for Henry?

 

Resurgence of forgotten man Danilo Cataldi indicative of Lazio’s improved squad depth

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The scars of the 2017/18 season finale will take some time to heal for Lazio fans.

A final-day collapse to Inter saw the Roman club throw away a Champions League spot, before star defender Stefan de Vrij headed to their conquerors on a free transfer, soon to be joined in the departure lounge by West Ham-bound Felipe Anderson.

This came little over a month after the Aquile had conceded three goals in four minutes to throw away a Europa League semi-final place to RB Salzburg.

Inevitably, you didn’t need to venture far at the time to find the usual forecasts of doom and decline as Lazio looked to avoid being stripped of assets like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto.

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Outstanding Lille setting bar high in Ligue 1

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After 10 games Lille are still there. There means 2nd place in Ligue 1 which is de facto for 1st place because no one will be catching PSG this season. The current French champions have 30 points from 10 games, a 100% record that was underlined at the weekend with another devastating win, this time against Amiens in Paris which ended 5-0. Job done.

As for Lille, no one could have expected such a start from a team who have traditionally struggled in recent seasons showing only glimpses of what they can achieve. This season is very different.  It was only in May that Lille pulled off a fantastic escape from the relegation zone, and the club have worked hard all summer in changing the set up of what is now expected.

Coach Christophe Gautier has come into the team last December and had a mountain to climb, but with survival came some new recruits in the summer and also the real emergence of Nicolas Pepe who is growing into one of the better players in Ligue 1. It was his goal- albiet a penalty that helped Lille win their latest game. The club have acquired 22 points from 10 games, continue at that rate and they will come 2nd and could get 80 points.

Clearly the objective at the beginning of the season for Lille was to finish in the top half- this is an objective that is being easily met, but now the team and their coach and fans must be thinking to take things a little further and finish in a European place, if that ends up being for the Champions League then Gautier would have made a miraculous turnaround.

Whilst Lille are 8 points behind PSG, they can marvel at the fact that they are 3 points in front of Marseille and 5 points in front of Lyon. Monaco who are usually a threat can be discounted this season after their nightmare start has led them into 19th position and they are a whopping 16 points behind Lille. It will be fascinating if Lille can keep up their superb start to the season.

The club have lost just 2 games so far and have won 3 games in a row, at home they alongside PSG have a perfect record of played 5 games won 5, and Lille certainly mean serious business.

On November 2nd just how far Lille have come will be put to the ultimate test when they will travel to Paris to face PSG. By that time if both teams continue to win, the gap could be 11 points in PSG’s favour or just 5. For Lille’s Ligue 1 achievements this season, watch this space.

PSG fans will again be banned from Marseille clash in a sad day for football

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Next week Marseille will play PSG in what could arguably be the game of the season so far in Ligue 1. However the atmosphere of the game will be dampened somewhat because all PSG fans will be banned from the Stade Velodrome.

Local police have confirmed that no PSG fans will be allowed into the stadium because other events in and around the city will have the police force stretched. On the face of it that statement makes sense, but for a few seasons now fans have been banned. Whilst PSG fans cannot visit Marseille, it is the same situation in Paris where Marseille fans are also banned.

Police will know in advance that some violence is very much possible between a minority set of fans, which of course is the real reason that away fans will be banned from next weekend’s fixture. What isn’t being thought out or clarified is a way to change the hooliganism in France.

For a great example could you expect to see Arsenal fans banned from visiting Old Trafford, or Chelsea fans banned from visiting Manchester City? In the 1970s and 80s in England this wouldn’t have been a surprise to see, although even then this rule was rarely put into place, but this is 2018 and France a nation that has won this years World Cup seem decades behind when it comes to the organisation of fans for the big football matches. Hooliganism is almost non existent in the Premier League and in France it is getting better, but sadly and most evidently it is still there.

This will be the 3rd season where PSG fans have been banned from travelling to Marseille for the match. Whilst on a human form something needs to change, the reputation of some fans will also damage TV viewing and marketing. Just look to Serie A for evidence, a league that was light years ahead in the 1990s has fallen greatly due to hooligans, in club fighting, match fixing and ultra fans, it can all be linked and this latest news is no good for Ligue 1.

Something needs to change from the top and fans need to be educated enough not to cross the line. For now it is evident beyond recognition that even if there is a beer festival in Marseille and some other events the real nature of the ban is stop the violence, it seems sadly that the local police had no other choice.

 

 

 

Lille in pole position to keep Pepe amid Barcelona interest

pepeLille forward Nicolas Pepe has had a cracking start to the season – no headlines there – with five goals from his first eight appearances. Included among those goals was a hattrick in the club’s 3-2 win at Amiens in September, and as a result the 23-year-old has found himself in some demand from around Europe. Spanish giants Barcelona are one club to have been credited with an interest in him, while Premier League outfits Arsenal and Everton have also reportedly been keeping tabs on his progress. It would seem easy, then, to assume he could be bringing an end to his time in France after arriving in 2017 with a move to pastures new, but it would appear that the former Angers forward would prefer to remain with Les Dogues – for now, at least.

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Ligue 1 Fantasy Picks – Round 5

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We are only four weeks into the new season and standing champions Paris Saint-Germain have taken no time in asserting their dominance in the league.

After four rounds of games, PSG tops the league with a perfect record and expect some of their players in our best eleven picks. In standout fixtures this weekend, PSG and Marseille have easy home ties while Monaco have a tricky trip to Toulouse.
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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.

Marseille boss Garcia admits World Cup has caused fitness worries

garcia2Marseille boss Rudi Garcia has admitted that this summer’s World Cup has caused some issues regarding his team’s fitness in the early stages of the new Ligue 1 season, according to Ligue1.com. The ex-Martigues midfielder highlighted the fitness plight of the likes of Florian Thauvin and Adil Rami, claiming that they are still not 100% after their exploits in Russia over the last couple of months. Les Phocéens find themselves ninth in the table after three games, with one each in the win, draw and loss columns. With hopes of improving upon last season’s 4th-placed finish high on the priority list at the Stade Vélodrome, Garcia has also stated his belief that things will improve as the season moves on.

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