Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Benjamin Lecomte

 

Montpellier’s Benjamin Lecomte ended up being ranked as the 6th best goalkeeper in Ligue 1. The club fought for a European place and had some incredibly consistent moments during the season but ultimately fell short.

Lecomte started his professional career with Lorient’s B team and then the senior team where he ended up playing over 100 games. But after being edged out he was loaned to Dijon and ended up back at Lorient soon after. It wasn’t until 2017 that Montpellier in Ligue 1 took the plunge and signed Lecomte on a full time contract.

In his two seasons for Montpellier he has been a near constant presence, indeed he has missed just 1 game in that time in the league. This season Lecomte kept 11 clean sheets and ended up with a total points haul of 44. With him in goal the club conceded 42 goals. Lecomte was only booked once this season which is amongst the best for goalkeepers in the league. He would have cost you for your team at the beginning of the season 9.5m.

Lecomte’s season did not start off well as Montpellier were beaten in their first game 2-1 against Dijon and so he ended up with a points total of -2. In the next game Montpellier lost again and it wasn’t until the 3rd game of his season that the points started to roll in.

A 0-0 against Saint Etienne and a 1-0 victory over Reims meant that Lecomte earned 14 points in two games in a row with back to back clean sheets. The ongoing problem for the keeper was that consistency wasn’t his strong point which summed up Montpellier’s season too.

His most successful period of the season commenced in late October against Bordeaux and 3 club wins in  a row, keeping clean sheets in all of those games where Montpellier also found their firing boots scoring 7 goals meant that Lecomte earned 21 points in those three games, that ended up being almost half his season points earned in just that small time frame.

His worst game of the season was pretty much most goalkeepers worst games of the season playing away to champions PSG. And PSG won 5-1 meaning that Lecomte points total in that match dived to -8 points.

Once the game was up for Europe Montpellier did not play to the best of their levels and this was seen in Lecomte’s performances and final games where he earned just 6 points in his last four outings and those points came in one game. His final game of the season ended in a 1-0 defeat against Marseille earning him no points.

Last season Lecomte earned 79 points and so this season proved to be a backward step for a goalkeeper who has developed late but at the same time plays in a position where he should keep improving well into his 30′s.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers in 2018/19: Andy Delort

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It’s incredible to think that Andy Delort is only 27 years old when we see the amount of clubs he has played for. So far it stands at 9, with his career being made up of quite a few loan deals. Indeed his current club Montpellier started off as a loan before his move was made more permanent this past season.

Delort’s efforts means that he finished in the top 5 strikers in Ligue 1 and his value coming into the season was 7m, given that he produced 66 points the return seems worthwhile.

Whilst Montpellier did not make Europe the team played some very good football and had some wonderful spells during the season becoming difficult to beat at their home ground Stade de la Mosson.

Delort was an integral part of the team and played 36 times from 38 games he scored an impressive 14 goals and assisted in another 7. His disciplinary was good too as he received only four yellow cards for the whole season. Only six other players scored more goals than Delort in Ligue 1 and his overall striker ranking when we take into account all of the major European leagues would be 30th.

Even though Montpellier lost their first game of the season, at home to Dijon 2-1, Delort assisted in his teams goal and so he earned 2 points from his first game. He then went the  next 5 games earning no points at all as he couldn’t find the back of the net.

His form took an upswing at the end of September and throughout October where he scored points in each of his next five games. This included scoring a goal in everyone of those games and he quickly was taken into the hearts of the fans of the team.

His best moments of the season included scoring both goals as Montpellier drew 2-2 with Rennes and netting two goals as Montpellier beat Strasbourg 3-1, on each occasion he earned 8 points.

Form did tail off towards the end of the season and Delort’s last 4 games came with no points as the clubs European hopes faded fast.

Delort has experienced his best season of his career consistency wise. When we look at his past two seasons before this one he earned just 18 and 23 points respectively. Delort’s career has always looked like one that refuses to settle down and stay a few seasons at the same club, after this successful campaign one would think that Montpellier would do everything to keep the player on their books for next season and perhaps beyond.

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Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Stephane Ruffier

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Saint Etienne played some wonderful football this past season, so good in fact that some media compared them to the great side of the 1970s that somehow made a nation fall in love with them for a few years. In the end their hard work paid off and they qualified for the Europa League and goalkeeper Stephan Ruffier was a key component to the clubs success this season.

Ruffier collected 58 points and finished in 5th place in the European Fantasy League Ligue 1 rankings for goalkeepers. In fact only 4 points separated him from finishing in 3rd.

The 32 year old has been at Saint Etienne for 8 years and made almost 300 appearances for the club, making 37 starts from 38 in the league this past season. While the club did concede 40 goals under Ruffier he also made 13 clean sheets the 4th best in the league. Disciplinary was good too with just one yellow card all season and his value going into the season was 7.5m which looks to have been a bargain.

It’s interesting to note that Ruffier picked up his one booking of the season in the first game of the campaign, but because he did so and because Saint Etienne conceded in both of their opening games he started matchday 3 with -1 points.

His season really kicked off against Montpellier when the teams played out a 0-0 draw at Stade de la Mosson but that earned Ruffier a clean sheets total of 7 points.

Ruffier’s most consistent period came just at the right time when Saint Etienne also known as the Verts (greens because of their shirts) went 3 games in a row without conceding a goal in April. And this form was key to the club making a European place and fighting off the likes of Marseille and Montpellier and for a time Reims.

The games came thick and fast and started with a 3-0 win over Bordeaux. Nobody gave Saint Etienne much chance away to Reims in their next game but they went there and won 2-0 and finished off their trilogy of matches with a 2-0 win over Toulouse and Ruffier earned a whopping 21 points in those three matches.

Ruffier’s worst points total was inevitably in Paris when PSG the reigning champions beat them 4-0 and as a result he ended up with -6 points.

His last two seasons have seen him earn much less than he did in this one, and he has improved significantly showing signs of perhaps getting back to his 2014 season best. His value looks sure to rise as he nears completing 10 years with the club that is clearly in his heart and now he will be back in European football for next season.

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Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Dante Costa

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When Dante Costa hangs up his boots his story will be told that here is a player that got better as he got older. And at age 35 he put in some terrific displays for his club Nice, to be ranked as the 4th best defender in Ligue 1.

Dante Costa also known as simply Dante joined Nice from Bundesliga side VFL Wolfsburg in 2016, and has now made 96 appearances for the French club. His big break in football didn’t come until his late 20s and since then Dante Costa has not looked back.

His worst point of his career was perhaps when he was picked for Brazil to play in the semi-final of the World Cup against Germany in 2014, as a defender it couldn’t have got any worse when Brazil were infamously beaten 7-1 by the Germans who went onto win that years competition.

This season under the guidance of coach Patrick Vieira who himself this was his first term with Nice, Dante seemed calm, collective and full of confidence in the back four. This was recognised by Vieira who was only too happy to regularly pick the Brazilian for the side. In all Dante played 36 games from 38 and earned a total of 64 points just six points shy of 3rd place.

Dante of course is not expected to score goals or be in the build up to one but he still managed 1 goal and also had one assist. One question mark about him was his aggressiveness which led to 11 yellow cards for the season, though he managed not to get sent off in the league.

With Nice starting poorly in the league this affected Dante and he went the opening 3 games without scoring a point, indeed because of the goals conceded he was down by -3 points. It took sometime for Nice to group together and start believing in themselves and when the team started to gel together it was November and this is when Dante experienced the best period of his season.

He scored points in 6 consecutive games earning a massive 28 points as Nice went on a great run starting at Bordeaux and ending with a 0-0 result against Angers in December.

Dante Costa’s best game where he earned the most points was against Montpellier in April where Nice only won 1-0. But it was an all round game from the Brazilian who scored a goal, the only one for his season and also kept a clean sheet to earn 9 points.

The last match of the season was the local derby in which Nice beat Monaco 2-0 which earned Dante another 5 points. Indeed the defender had a decent consistent season overall if not spectacular, but for his age and being coached by a new manager this was an impressive display over the season.

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Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Remi Oudin

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In Reims, Remi Oudin is known as a superstar, the one golden light in the club who from his position planted in attacking midfield gave Reims the hope of European football for a long time. That he is a local only adds to the lure and respect the fans give him.

Reims did not start the season well, but rarely lost instead they kept piling up draws, but by winter they had established themselves and flirted with the top 5 positions. A Europa League place or dare we say it a Champions League one still felt realistic even in February. Had they made it to the Champions League that would have been emotional enough given that this famous and historic team are linked to the beginnings of the European Cup. In the end the club ran out of steam and energy and so did Oudin.

However it’s worth congratulating both player and club, we have to remember that they finished in the top 10 after being promoted as champions of Ligue 2 last season.

As for Oudin he finished the season in the European Fantasy League rankings in 4th place for midfielders, 29th for midfielders in major leagues and 82nd for overall performance including every player. That’s not bad going for a player that was plying his trade in Ligue 2 last season.

Oudin finished with 70 points just 4 behind Wahbi Khazri of Saint Etienne and he started 32 games for Reims. He was impressive in front of goal too scoring 10 times and also assisted in another four goals. He didn’t see red all season and was booked just 4 times.

The player started the season by earning 6 points from his first two games as Reims kept two clean sheets in their victories over both Nice and Lyon, in the latter game he also provided the assist for the winner.

His best game of the season came on October 28th when Reims played Rennes away from home and won a normally tough fixture 2-0. Oudin was the definite hero of the day scoring both goals and getting extra points for a clean sheet. The only sour note was losing points for being booked but he still earned 9 points that day.

If any criticism could be pointed at Oudin it’s that he lacked consistency throughout the season and would appear brilliant in one match and average in the next, however in the month of February he was certainly one of the best in form players in Ligue 1.

In the 3 games that took place he earned 18 points as Reims had victories over Rennes and Montpellier and drew against Toulouse and Oudin scored against Rennes again. He also scored a brace against Montpellier.

Oudin finished the season quietly though earning a points total of 3 points from his last seven games as Reims came to the conclusion that their European hopes had faded for this season.

Oudin is currently valued at 10m and he proved this season why- it will be interesting to see what the 22 year old will produce next season and also interesting to see how long on this form Reims will be able to keep their man.

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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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Ligue 1 Player of the Weekend: Florian Thauvin

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It was the penultimate league game of the season in Ligue 1 this past weekend and the player of the weekend goes to Marseille midfielder Florian Thauvin.

Marseille were playing Toulouse away from home and losing the game 1-0 when Thauvin set up Morgan Sanson to equalise just three minutes later. But the influential player would save the best until last.

Marseille were winning a thrilling and very open game 3-2 in the final stages when Toulouse had a chance to try and equalise and that is when Thauvin showed his best qualities. He made it 4-2 in the 90th minute which effectively at that point killed the game after Clinton N’Jie had assisted him crossing from the left and on first look it seemed that Toulouse had scored an own goal but Thauvin got the credit. Around 60 seconds later Thauvin put the icing on the cake, again a pass from N’Jie and this time the World Cup winner sent a fantastic shot from his right boot sailing into the Toulouse net. Now it was 5-2.

Marseille celebrated well and embraced Thauvin even if the club have come up short this season and won’t be playing European football. This kind of result is what the club needed after a start stop last few weeks and on top of that Mario Balotelli who has started so well for the club since his move in January was injured for this game.

It has been a great week for Thauvin who has also been called up to the France national squad for their next three games.

As for his overall stats. well Thauvin added another 2 goals at the weekend which means he has 15 this season. It hasn’t been a great 2019 for Thauvin in terms of scoring goals. He has netted only 4 times this year, and 2 of those came in this game. But he showed hunger the whole game in trying to score and it just shows a football game is never really over until the final whistle.

In the Ligue 1 fantasy rankings Thauvin is 4th overall as the best player in the league and for his position he is 2nd behind PSG’s Angel Di Maria, just 7 points separates the players. Thauvin has 89 points and with a good game at home against Montpellier who could well surpass Di Maria in the table rankings. Scoring 15 goals this season and also assisting in a further 8 just underlines that the player has had a successful personal season once again.

However with no European football to play for next season one wonders if Thauvin will want a move away from the club, all will be revealed in the summer.

Thauvin is available to purchase here if you want him in your team for the final round of Ligue 1 games this weekend.

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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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Lille secure Champions League football and Neymar redeems himself ahead of PSG ban

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It’s been a tough month for PSG star Neymar who learned that he would receive a 3 game Champions League ban next season for being critical of match officials when PSG lost to Manchester United. Then the Brazilian was handed a 3 game ban by Ligue 1 after he hit out at a fan at the end of the Coupe de France final. PSG are appealing on that, but he was on target to open the scoring as PSG beat Angers 2-1 at the weekend.

It was Neymar’s 15th goal of the season which with his long term injury considered is a decent return. The win was also PSG’s 2nd win in 5 games as they have gone through the worst form of their season in the last month which included losing in the final of the Coupe de France to Rennes. Of course they became champions weeks ago and the players seem to have switched off but the win away to Angers was still an important one.

The big news came from Lille and saw the side secure their Champions League place for next season after they beat Bordeaux 1-0. They will almost certainly finish 2nd but even if they lost their last two games and Lyon won their next two, they would finish 3rd which would still be good for the qualifying stages, but the odds are looking great for them to finish in the runners up spot. The Bordeaux victory was the clubs 19th of the season.

Lyon went away to Marseille and secured a brilliant 3-0 win to give them a huge advantage in finishing the season in 3rd place and possible Champions League for next season. Playing at Stade Velodrome was no mean task and the game was loaded with tension throughout. Maxwell Cornet who has been brilliant for the team this season scored a brace and was the eventual hero. Lyon remains 6 points behind Lille but have now pulled four points clear of Saint Etienne.

Saint Etienne who had won 4 games on the bounce really had to win at home to Montpellier but they were downed by a Gaetan Laborde goal, which more or less ended their Champions League hopes. They would have to win their last 2 games and hope that Lyon lost both or lost one and drew one and that seems unlikely.

Could Montpellier pip Saint Etienne for that final Europa League place though? The club at least gave themselves a chance by beating the club at the weekend but they are still 4 points adrift and it looks like, despite their heroics, that they will just miss out.

Marseille certainly will as they have just 55 points and the best they can hope for now is to finish in 5th place. The club started strongly this season only to fade away in the winter months and then bounce back again soon after. But they look to be going through poor form once again and have no wins in their last 3 games.

Any European football officially ended for Nice this past weekend but they still pulled off a decent 1-1 draw against Nantes who came into that game having won 5 matches in a row including wins over PSG, Lyon and Marseille. That was the 11th draw this season for Nice though, just 3 of those matches converted into wins and the team would be challenging for Europe.

And Nimes continued their fine form by beating Monaco 1-0, that’s 3 wins from their last four games and they took advantage of Reims poor form to move 3 points clear of them and firmly establish 8th place. Nimes could finish as high as 6th if their form continues and others drop points around them.

Finally matchday 36 was one that saw referees having to work over time with no less than 6 red cards dished out. Four of those to top 8 sides and a few players will have played their last games of the campaign for their respective clubs.

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Remy Cabella sent off as Saint Etienne’s Champions League hopes hang by a thread

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Saint Etienne didn’t need this type of controversy, indeed all they needed to do was keep their heads, but against Montpellier at the weekend it went all wrong.

The club had been in such great form coming into this game winning their last 4 matches in a row and had put real pressure on Lyon in 3rd place for that final Champions League position. Indeed the Verts as they are known entered the game which was played on Friday night just 1 point behind Lyon. Playing at home they were expected to win given that they have the third best home record in the league but Montpellier were not reading the script.

In the end it took one goal, scored by Gaetan Laborde to settle matters and Saint Etienne lost the game and ended up losing their minds, borne out of frustration of course.

The game had no less than 7 yellow cards and 2 reds. First to go was Daniel Congre from Montpellier who received his marching orders on the 53rd minute for roughing. This seemed to play into Saint Etienne’s hands and yet roughly 10 minutes later they themselves would be down to 10 players and it wasn’t just any player seeing red by Remy Cabella, who has shone recently for the club and really stepped up. Well at the weekend he stepped down and took an early shower to go with it.

Two minutes later Laborde scored just to rub salt in the wounds, and for Saint Etienne they dominated every statistic but the one that counted and lost the game.

Saint Etienne’s coach Jean-Louis Gasset believes the game should have ended in a draw he said: ”Given how we ended the game, with all these balls passing in front of Montpellier’s goal, a draw would’ve been fair. We weren’t focused enough after Montpellier went down to 10 men. We rushed things trying to score immediately. Montpellier scored at a fateful moment. We gave everything, we had chances, but we lacked a cutting edge. We missed the chance to confirm our Europa League place, but we have two games left.”

Lyon played on Sunday and beat Marseille 3-0 which means that they have pulled 4 points clear from 4th with just 2 games remaining and look like the massive favourites now to go on and get 3rd.

As for Saint Etienne they now have Montpellier in their rear view mirror for 4th, although there is a four point gap and Saint Etienne’s consolation looks like a Europa League place.

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