Lille destroy PSG in stunning fashion as Lyon lose again

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For the second week in a row PSG have blown the chance to wrap up the league title and both have been in quite stunning fashion. The first was when Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting missed the sitter of a century to the club in front against Strasbourg. That was one shock to take away and analyse. But it got worse at the weekend when Paris visited Lille, the 2nd best team in France this season and were soundly demolished 5-1.

It threw shockwaves around the league given that PSG had previously lost just 1 game all season and when, on the rare occasion, they do lose they don’t concede 5 goals. It was a strange game that actually started with a Thomas Meunier own goal to put Lille in front, but PSG were level on the 11th minute through a Juan Bernat effort, but he would later be sent off to compound the misery for the champions.

Both Meunier and then Tiago Silva were taken off early on through injuries and it was shortly after this point that Lille saved their best moments for the game. In 30 second half minutes Lille scored 4 goals, PSG were in shock and the game fell away. The club will put it down to a bad day at the office, but the party poppers just keep getting delayed for a side that are still 18 points clear with a game in hand.

PSG will play Nantes away from home next weekend when all they will need is a single point to win back to back league titles. The sticking point in that game could be that Nantes have just pulled off one of their finest results this season by beating Lyon in 3rd place 2-1. That means back to back defeats for Lyon and with it they look like to have conceded runners up spot to Lille. The gap between the two teams is now 8 points with 18 remaining to be played.

Saint Etienne beat Bordeaux 3-0 and they are now just 3 points behind Lyon for a final Champions League position. In short Lyon simply have not been good enough this past month and could miss out on participating in next seasons competition. Marseille beat Nimes 2-1 in an enjoyable but nervy encounter for the home side which puts them on 51 points and five points behind Lyon just to add the pressure.

Montpellier beat Toulouse 2-1 which was good enough to move up to 6th place. But it was disappointment for France’s most historical club Reims who have had a superb season back in Ligue 1 when they could only 0-0 with Monaco, they are on the same points as Montpellier with 48 but their succession of draws is damaging their chances of finishing in a European position.

Finally Nice make the top 8 and while they remain undefeated in their last 4 games, it was another dour 0-0 draw away to Rennes that doesn’t raise much interest in how the team will finish up this season.

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Ligue 1: Player of the Weekend: Dante Costa

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Dante Costa earned 9pts at the weekend and is the Ligue 1 Player of the Weekend in the fantasy Ligue 1 rankings.

The Nice defender and Brazilian player also known simply as Dante has been the bedrock and guiding light in Patrick Vieira’s team and has played every game in Ligue 1 this season for Nice. In truth Dante’s career is supposed to be winding down given that he is 35 years old, but he has been raking in the points especially in the last few weeks- Nice have had 3 clean sheets in the last five games and his display this past weekend was the arguably his best of the season.

At the weekend Nice played Montpellier and this was given extra hype given the teams standings in the league, it was 7th v 8th, and both teams still have  a chance to qualify for next seasons Europa League.

Nice at home were installed as the slight favourites and the match lived up to what was seen beforehand as a close battle. In the end Nice won 1-0, Dante kept a clean sheet and the extra massive bonus for Dante which ended up giving him 9pts for the weekend is that he scored the only goal of the game- the winning goal in the 20th minute after a superb assist from Wylan Cyprien. Not only had Dante greatly contributed to the 3 points he had also scored his first goal of the season.

In all competitions Dante has only scored 3 goals for Nice from 112 games so at the weekend he celebrated the goal as if Nice had won Ligue 1 themselves. But in truth there was still a long way to go and he defended well, led the back line superbly with his experience of playing most of his career in the German Bundesliga and richly deserves to be named as Ligue 1 player of the week.

Patrick Vieira the Nice coach was all praise for his team especially the way his players were organised and focused, he said: “We were able to take control. We created real opportunities, we could have scored more this evening. I saw a very attractive Nice team. I may have changed systems slightly too early, which made us sit back. But the important thing was the spirit we showed over the 90 minutes. The important thing is to continue our run. If you look at our game against Dijon and the one this evening, we showed defensive solidity and we created chances. It’s encouraging for what’s to come. Not everything was perfect but to win against a good Montpellier side is a good thing. We need to continue to work to keep this dynamic.”

Dante will have to keep up his good defensive displays and he might be worth adding to your team given that Nice have the motivation to keep moving up the table and try out for a European spot. Dante has 50pts overall and is 7th in the defender Ligue 1 rankings for fantasy Ligue 1. He can be bought for just 6.5m and is worth keeping on your radar.

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None of the top 6 teams win as PSG blow title celebrations

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What a weekend it was in Ligue 1 with so many surprising results and upsets as the challenge for a European finish hots up with just 7 games and 21 points left on the board.

The biggest shock perhaps was Lyon losing against bottom placed Dijon. Lyon were also at home in 3rd place chasing down Lille and yet they were defeated 3-1 against a team who had previously won just 2 games away from home. The win boosted Dijon from bottom to 18th and even gives them a small amount of hope with survival. They are just 7 points behind 17th placed Amiens. Game on!

Lyon slipped 5 points behind Lille as the challenge for an automatic Champions League spot nears closer. But in some respect Lille also blew a great chance to go 7 points clear knowing in advance that Lyon had lost, Lille played on Sunday but could only draw 1-1 with Reims.

PSG were supposed to be confirmed as the league champions for a second year in a row on Sunday night when they played Strasbourg in Paris. But it wasn’t to be- Strasbourg whose form has vastly got better since winning the Coupe de la Ligue against Guingamp, were good enough to draw 2-2 with PSG. The draw means that PSG have lost their 100% record at home.

But the major talking point of the game was when the clubs were locked at 1-1 and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had the easiest chance he will ever get in his career to score a goal. A simple tap in with the ball on the goal line and no challenge. He somehow caressed the ball along the goal line and onto the post. It was one of the worst misses in football history and at the same time it was also deemed one of the best defensive recoveries too.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel elected to start Kylian Mbappe from the bench so there didn’t appear to be such a seriousness about the game on true reflection. But that miss could well spend the end of Choupo-Moting’s short lived career with the team from Paris, although we should not forget that he did score earlier in the game. Of course the title is just a stay of execution and PSG could officially wrap it up with their next game which is incidentally away to 2nd placed Lille.

Saint Etienne were not able to take advantage of Lille and Lyon dropping points and could only draw 2-2 with 17th placed Amiens. However the club went away happy in the end given that Remy Cabella’s 95th minute equaliser saved them from defeat.

Marseille lost again, this time to Bordeaux 2-0 and their infamous poor form just before the turn of the year seems to be back. That form led to fan protests to get rid of coach Rudi Garcia. L’OM have not won for 3 games and whilst they remain in 5th place Saint Etienne have pulled 2 points clear of them.

So from the top 8 clubs it was left to Patrick Vieira’s Nice to be the only team to win at the weekend. Nice beat Montpellier 1-0 their second successive result winning by the same score line and that put the team right in the mix on 47 points. It was 7th v 8th in a much frenzied contested match, there was 31 goal attempts from both sides in a game which could have gone either way.

The excitement is continuing to build in Ligue 1 as there is just 5 points between 4th place which is good enough for a Europa League finish and 8th place. Plus relegation could yet involve 6 teams.

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Topical Ligue 1: Top 4 clubs all win as PSG edge closer to 8th title

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It was a weekend which saw all top four clubs in Ligue 1 pick up victories, and so not much changed in the standings.

PSG are ever closer to winning the league, and it is just a question of when and not if as they hold a massive 20 point lead at the top over Lille, and they have a game in hand. Just 4 more points will secure yet another trophy for the club, their 8th in their history and 6th this decade alone.

PSG were at least made to work hard for their win which ended 1-0 against Toulouse and it was that man Kylian Mbappe who got the winner with just a quarter of an hour left to play. Mbappe now has 27 goals this season and is 9 goals ahead of second place Nicolas Pepe. Not only will Mbappe be assured of a 3rd league title- 2 with PSG and 1 with Monaco he will also win the top goal scorers award too.

Lille kept up in the chase as they were involved in a very entertaining game at lowly Nantes to win a 5 goal thriller 3-2. And Pepe was able to score again, one of the brightest stars in European football has really shown just how good he is and it seems questionable if Lille will be able to hold on to him. Perhaps he will stay if they qualify for the Champions League. However Lyon are right behind Lille and just four points shy as they try to grab 2nd place. Lyon beat Rennes 1-0 at the weekend thanks to a Martin Terrier goal.

In 4th place Saint Etienne are just too far behind Lille or Lyon to challenge for that last remaining Champions League place. They are currently 7 points behind Lyon with 8 games to go so it is possible but that dream looks distant. They did beat Nimes 2-1 to keep themselves in contention of  a top 4 place though.

The big surprise involving the top clubs came earlier on the weekend when at home Marseille could only draw 2-2 with Angers and dropped two vital points in the process. Mario Balotelli who has been outstanding for the club grabbed both early goals to put his side 2-0 up and they were cruising but had a terrible and lacklustre second half to collapse.

Marseille’s draw which in retrospect felt like a loss has let in Reims who had the weekend off because of the Coupe de la Ligue final. They will play Strasbourg away from home this midweek and if they win Reims will go past Marseille and into 5th place. Nice beat Dijon 1-0 but did make heavy work of it in an otherwise dull game which saw the hosts reduced to 10 men. Dijon are bottom of the league and will most certainly be relegated while Nice remain in 7th place.

Finally Montpellier also didn’t play because of the Coupe de la Ligue final and they will play in midweek against the losers Guingamp. Montpellier will be at home against a team feeling very sorry for themselves and the home side will feel they can win this game. If so it would take them past Nice and create a bigger gap to Rennes. Having said that Montpellier have only won 1 game in their past five at home.

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Topical: Lyon exert pressure on Lille for 2nd place after shock loss

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Lyon’s objective this season in Ligue 1 is to get the runners up spot which affords teams in France automatic qualification for the Champions League. For most of the season they have been locked in a battle with Lille who have surprised everyone. Only a week ago it looked as if Lyon’s dream was over but Lille finally slipped up.

That slip up came at the weekend when Lille lost at home to Monaco 1-0 in what was seen as a shock. True Monaco have progressed since Thierry Henry was sacked but they still hadn’t found their stride away from home, so the thought of going to Lille and getting all three points seemed unrealistic.

What added salt to the wounds for Lille was that it was a last minute goal for Monaco through Carlos Vinicius that settled matters and despite Lille having 12 attempts on goal they had to succumb to only their first defeat in their last 10 games. It was a defeat that let Lyon right in. Lyon beat Montpellier 3-2 in a thrilling game which means that the gap between 2nd and 3rd has been reduced to just 4 points with 9 games left. Lille’s next game is away to Nantes and Lyon will play Rennes at Roazhon Park.

The game that everyone was talking about was PSG and Marseille’s match up on Sunday night. The two biggest rivalries in French football came together in Paris, but the result was inevitably the same as PSG ran out 3-1 winners to keep their 100% success rate at home. Because Lille lost PSG also went 20 points ahead in the league.

Kylian Mbappe scored his 25th goal of the season for PSG  but then missed a last minute penalty. The hero of the day for the home side was Angel Di Maria who scored a brace before Steve Mandanda was sent off for the visitors in a frantic and exciting game. The defeat for Marseille means that they have slipped 6 points behind 3rd place Lyon in the chase for the final Champions League spot.

Saint Etienne ended their losing run in style by defeating Caen 5-0 in a one sided match which saw five different goal scorers and just one shot on target for the home side who are now bottom of the league.

Reims impressive unbeaten run continued as they beat Nantes 1-0 and have put the pressure on Marseille in the process being just 1 point behind them. The run in for the top six is still undecided and looks set to go down to the wire. Montpellier’s loss against Lyon has dealt a huge blow to their top 6 aspirations as they have fallen four points behind 6th place. Rennes in 8th place dropped another two points as they drew 1-1 against Bordeaux, but the draw did mean the side have not lost  a game for the past 3 weeks.

Whilst PSG and Lille are still clear of the chasing pack it is interesting to note that there is just 7 points between 3rd and 6th, and most of the European places are still up for grabs. Ligue 1 takes a break next weekend and returns on the weekend of March 29th.

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Topical: Ligue 1 from leaders PSG to the chasing pack of Lyon and Marseille

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The 27th round of Ligue 1 took place this past weekend and it was a week that saw PSG maintain their 17 point lead at the top of the league with the top 4 clubs all winning their respective games.

It’s a question of when and not if PSG pick up their 8th Ligue 1 title (6 wins in the last 7 years) as the French champions beat Caen 2-1. Man of the moment Kylian Mbappe who has stepped up to another level since Neymar and Edinson Cavani were struck down by injuries scored both goals and leads the goal scoring charts with 24 so far. If PSG can win their game in hand they could go 20 points clear at the top as coach Thomas Tuchel, in his debut season, looks to break every domestic record en route.

Lille are still in 2nd place but Lyon will not give up the chase for the runner up spot. They currently lead Lyon by 5 points and have lost just 1 game at home all season. But have Lyon made a statement of intent? Their 5-1 demolishing of Toulouse suggests they have. Lyon currently in 3rd are also sitting in the final Champions League qualification spot with no less than 3 other teams vying for that position.

Marseille coach Rudi Garcia looked to be on the ropes a few months ago when Marseille literally couldn’t buy a win and the fans started to protest. But 4 wins in their last five games has sent L’OM up the table where the objective now has to be to finish in at least 3rd place. They have only conceded 3 goals in their last 6 games and new signing Mario Balotelli has been superb, scoring 4 goals in his first six games with the club.

If any of the top 8 clubs are going to fall away a candidate could be Saint Etienne who have been solid overall but have found a run of inconsistency which has seen them lose 3 of their last five games. On form the club would be in 12th place.

Attention has been turned to Reims who are having their best season in the top flight in over 40 years. Reims are one of the most historical teams in Europe after reaching the very first European Cup final, a trick they repeated the following year in the mid 1950′s and the club have forever been linked to the European Cup/Champions League. Can they make it back there? It seems unlikely but they will give it a go and currently sit in 6th place and 7 points behind 3rd position. The teams two game winning run came to an end against Amiens when they could only draw 2-2, however they were losing that match before making a final comeback near the end of time.

Nice ended their poor form with a 1-0 win over Strasbourg but both teams ended up with 10 players apiece as tempers flared towards the end of the game. It was a significant win for Patrick Vieira, whose has guided the team brilliantly this season, however there has been an implosion of such in the last month and he will be hoping that the teams fortunes can change with a much needed 3 points.

One club whose fortunes need to change is Montpellier who keep slipping down the table and are now in 8th place having gone the last 5 games without victory. They are 6 points behind 4th place and have picked up just 3 points from their last available 15, and are in real danger of missing out on a European place after such a good first half of the season. The club did not play at the weekend though and will instead play tonight against Bordeaux. Win that and they could climb to 7th place and hopefully for them have a new found belief, because if any team in the top half of the league needs a win it is La Paillade who are consequently celebrating their 100th anniversary as a club.

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Circus at Monaco continues as Jardim is back after Henry sacking

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105 days after being sacked from Monaco, Leonardo Jardim is back as coach after Thierry Henry was suspended and then sacked as head coach after a dismal three months in charge.

Nobody expected that Monaco would go back to Jardim though, and perhaps nobody believed that Jardim would be willing to go back after being unjustly sacked the first time but that is what has happened.

It has been a circus season for Monaco, the 2017 champions who are 19th in the league table, the result not down to coaches but down to constantly selling their best players, and that is why it is a surprise that Jardim is back. Let’s remember whilst Jardim is ten times the coach of Henry he was still struggling with the club this season.

Perhaps Jardim has been promised that his best players will stay and that the tactic of selling half the team come each summer will stop. Evidently it hasn’t got the club anywhere and they may well still end up in Ligue 2. Perhaps the players were informed too and they voted to have Jardim back, if this is the case then we should expect to see an upturn in the clubs fortunes. One wonders what new signing and established international Cesc Fabregas thinks of it all- has he jumped ship from the Premier League too soon?

And what of Henry? Where does he go from here? One remembers Gary Neville’s poor stint at Valencia which seemingly finished him as a coach and it could be that Henry returns to punditry. Having said that he seems like a determined person and the Monaco job could have been a case of taking such a project too soon in his career. Henry won just 4 games from the 20 he was in charge of.

For Jardim the work must start immediately. His side lost at the weekend to Dijon 2-0 however he wasn’t in the dug out and his first game back will be the home match against Toulouse next Saturday.

The month of February looks like a tough one for Monaco with tricky fixtures against the likes of Montpellier and Lyon, so this will be no easy ride for Jardim. However despite how poor the club have been this season they are still only 3 points from safety and if the club were to get a winning run together they could still finish in midtable.

Jardim’s job is simple and that is to keep the club up, one senses, he will do just that.

Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2017/18 – Benjamin Lecomte (Montpellier)

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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.

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Ligue 1 Player of the Week – Memphis Depay (Lyon)

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Time now to find out the identity of the best player in Ligue 1 this past weekend. There were some great individual performances of course – Guingamp’s 4-0 home win against Troyes saw some great outings for the home XI, for example. The one who stood above all the others, however, was none other than Lyon star Memphis Depay. The 24-year-old ran the show as Les Gones ran riot at Stade Saint-Symphorien, emerging 5-0 victors on the road.

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Ligue 1 Picks for the week ahead

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The absence of PSG in the weeks fixture list means there are plenty of opportunities for the stars from the rest of the league to shine this weekend. Here are our picks for the upcoming games.

Anthony Lopes, Lyon – 37 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 ten clean sheets across the campaign as they take on strugglers Toulouse.

Adil Rami, Marseille – 54 points Continue reading