French Ligue 1 season is cancelled- what happens next?

The French Ligue 1 season has been ended by French Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe.

The announcement means an immediate end to the season due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however the story doesn’t end there. The problem now for the French Football Federation is what to do next? There seems to be three choices which would be to declare the season null and void, to end the league as how it stands now or to count wins only and revise the table.

As far as winning the league there was only going to be one winner this season in PSG. The club are 12 points clear and with a game in hand over 2nd place with 11 games to play. It’s obvious that they were never going to get caught and the club will feel harshly done by if they are not awarded the league title.

Marseille could be left frustrated if the season is null and void. The club have had their best season in  years at last showing good consistency and are in 2nd place with 56 points and 6 points clear of 3rd. Indeed they are 7 points clear of not playing in the Champions League next season and they did look almost assured of being part of Europe’s elite club for the season after, now that is in the balance.

Rennes had won 15 games this season to put them in 3rd place and as it stands they would be entered into the qualifying stages for the Champions League. Though in 4th place is Lille who are just 1 point behind Rennes and they would feel very hard done by considering they had 10 games to make up 1 point.

Historical club Reims were in search of a long over due return to Europe too as they looked on course for a Europa League finish.

As for relegation Toulouse would certainly benefit with a null and void decision given that they have amassed only 13 points this season and are 10 points behind 19th placed Amiens- they were certainties to go down. Amiens were struggling too on 23 points and had fallen 7 points behind from safety.

The tricky part of the league if is declared by current standings is that Nimes are in 18th place with 27 points. Finishing here isn’t relegation but usually means a play-off with the team finishing in 3rd place in Ligue 2. So when would that play-off game take place?

Over the next few days there are many things to discuss, and what would be the fairest option should be put on the table. Also it is worth noting that Ligue 2 has also been stopped, simply put there will be no professional football in France until September.

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PSG win 7 goal thriller as Rennes move closer to Marseille

If there is one thing that seems to be certain with PSG it is entertainment and following their 4-4 draw at Amiens last weekend the club scored another 4 goals, except they won this time beating Bordeaux 4-3.

No one really expected such a fight from Bordeaux who showed a lot of character in not just coming to Paris in order to defend. PSG had gone a goal down but veteran striker Edinson Cavani soon equalised. The star of the team this past weekend though was Marquinhos who can sometimes be seen as the forgotten man, but he scored two goals and Kylian Mbappe got the winner in a fantastic energised game.

But there would still be a negative to take from the match as Neymar received two yellow cards and was sent off in the very final moments of the game and now he will miss the trip to Dijon. However PSG have pulled clear at the top by 13 points, and that was helped as Marseille lost 3-1 at home to Nantes. It was the clubs first defeat in over 15 games and it wasn’t a good performance which was capped off by Alvaro scoring an own goal.

Marseille losing meant that Rennes took full advantage and their 2-1 home win over Nimes took them to within 8 points of 2nd place. M’Baye Niang scored both of Rennes’ goals as his good form continues. Rennes needed to win because Lille also picked up 3 points in 4th place with their victory over Toulouse. Toulouse who are rock bottom were never given a chance and this was a match where Lille ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. Loic Remy scored a brace and the club have won 4 from their last five games, as they chase down 3rd position.

Monaco’s winning run came to an end but at least they didn’t lose and instead they drew 1-1 away to Dijon. Lyon won their first game in almost a month by beating Metz away 2-0 and that was seen as a very good result for the club as Metz had picked up in form lately even in the bottom half of the table. But the club are still behind Strasbourg who were involved a dour 0-0 draw against Amiens- the same Amiens who had put four goals past PSG, but that is football.

Reims have lost just one match in their past five and they got a decent 1-1 draw away to Saint Etienne and are in 8th place. They were losing 1-0 and heading for defeat until they were rewarded a penalty in the final minute which Boulaye Dia scored for the away side.

Reims European hopes are still alive even though they are drawing too many games and the reason for that is how close the league still is with only 12 games left to play. The club are in 8th and yet are only seven points behind 3rd place, so there really is all to play for.

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PSG held in 4-4 thriller as Monaco make a move into the top 5

There was no doubt about it that the game of the weekend in Ligue 1 was between  PSG and Amiens. It was simply an incredible match that ended in a scoreline that nobody would have predicted: 4-4.

Of course PSG did rest some players namely Kylian Mbappe as Thomas Tuchel’s side have their crucial Champions League match to play against Borussia Dortmund in midweek. But even taking that into account it was an incredible start from Amiens who are in 19th place. The club went 3-0 up within 40 minutes and the home fans simply could not believe what they were witnessing. This was the same Amiens who had won just 3 games at home this season and scored just 13 before the game, now they had 3 in one match.

Serhou Guirassy opened the scoring after just five minutes to make Amiens intent very clear. Perhaps they had sniffed blood and realised that one eye for PSG would be on their Champions League game and that this was the perfect time to face the current French champions. Gael Kakuta made it 2-0 shortly afterwards and then Fousseni Diabate sent the stadium out of control with the third goal. How many teams come back from this situation and it seemed like the home fans were celebrating a rare victory over the mighty PSG who had lost just 3 games all season.

But this is still PSG, and even though some stars were rested they have an almighty talented team. Ander Herrera scored just before half time to make it 3-1 and there was a little self doubt at that point that had crept in.

In the 2nd half PSG dominated the game and Tanguy Kouassi broke home fans hearts with 2 goals in five minutes and now Amiens were hanging on from a cliff that they thought they had just conquered. With 16 minutes to go Mauro Icardi put PSG in the lead to make it 4-3 and PSG looked to have made one of the great comebacks and earn yet another three points. But there would be some joy for the home crowd when in the very final minute the man who had opened the scoring finished it and Guirassy scored his 2nd to send the stadium wild and the final score ended an incredible 4-4.

Amiens are 19th and 6 points from safety and it looks like the best the club can hope for would be the play-offs. But then again if they can put in consistent performances like they did at the weekend could they make one of the very special comebacks in Ligue 1 history themselves?

It was a very good weekend for 2nd placed Marseille who beat Lille 2-1 away from home, a very hard ground to go to. Not only did PSG drop points which means that Marseille have shortened the gap to 10 points but Rennes also lost which means they have an 11 point safety net and the club are almost guaranteed 2nd spot now which means automatic qualification for next seasons Champions League, job, almost achieved one would suspect.

Rennes lost at Reims 1-0 and the club have now gone their last 3 matches without a win, but they somehow stay in 3rd place with 41 points. With Lille losing too it means that Monaco have shortened the gap and they made  a big splash into 5th place after beating Montpellier 1-0. It was the club’s 3rd win in a row and Islam Slimani scored again. The pressure now looks off coach Robert Moreno and the club have climbed onto 38 points and are just three points from 3rd place. It has been quite a season for the club so far but it could end up on a positive note.

Strasbourg’s good form continued as they drew 1-1 away to Lyon to keep 7th place and Reims are back into the top 8 with a 1-0 win over Rennes. A penalty by El Toure settled the game.

European spots are still up for grabs in Ligue 1 and it is interesting to see how close the league has been this year. Marseille also will not give up on a league title even if it does seem unlikely, but if PSG keep progressing in the Champions League whose to say that they will lose some focus in the league? You never quite know in football.

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Ligue 1 Fantasy Picks for the Weekend: Matchday 25

It’s week 25 of the French league season, let’s look ahead to the players that could make all the difference to your fantasy team this weekend in Ligue 1.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Steve Mandanda- Marseille

There is only one goalkeeper worth talking about and that is Steve Mandanda. He has kept 5 clean sheets in a row and Marseille will play Lille at the weekend. With 61 points Mandanda is ranked as the best goalkeeper currently in the league and he would cost 8.5m.

Defender: Pablo- Bordeaux

Bordeaux have kept 2 clean sheets from their last four games and Pablo has been good at the heart of defence. He has kept 6 clean sheets and even has 3 goals, so a good all round player and he could really be worth adding to your team.

Defender: Yunis Abdelhamid- Reims

Yunis Abdelhamid has been really impressive for Reims this season and the club will be at home to Rennes and determined to get back to winning ways. The defender has kept 10 clean sheets this season and also scored three goals.

Defender: Axel Disasi- Reims

Disasi has 46 points and like his teammate he has kept 10 clean sheets. What has been impressive with Reims this season has been how they do not concede many goals. For example at home the club have conceded 7 goals, only Lyon with 6 have shipped less.

Defender: Laurent Koscielney- Bordeaux

Koscielney has 22 point and has helped his club keep 6 clean sheets this season. Bordeaux have picked up on some form and are at home to Dijon where they will be looking to keep another clean sheet.

Midfielder: Houssem Aouar- Lyon

Aouar has helped with 7 clean sheets and been involved in 6 Lyon goals. He is the invisible player, that just gets the job done. Also Lyon will be looking to get back to winning ways and they could do just that being at home against Strasbourg.

Midfielder: Mehdi Abeid- Nantes

Mehdi Abeid has scored a goal and been involved in two assists, with the way he plays down the flank his club will be looking to him as they try and stop a 3 game losing streak. They will play Metz at the weekend have every chance of winning.

Midfielder: Xavier Chavalerin- Reims

Chavalerin has become one of the most important players for Reims and he has 22 points and scored one goal but also assisted in a further three. Reims are at home to Rennes and have the quality to shape that game if he is on form. He is valued at 6m.

Midfielder: Ibrahim Sangare- Toulouse

This is an interesting one as Toulouse have been so poor this season. But they will be at home to Nice, who have been a little under confident lately, and what do Toulouse have to lose now? Sangare is a risky choice to have a good game but is valued at just 5m and he could come good this weekend.

Striker: Andy Delort- Montpellier

Andy Delort is scoring goals again and could add to his tally this weekend as Montpellier take on Monaco who have a leaky defence. Delort has 9 goals and 3 assists so far.

Striker: Islam Slimani- Monaco

It was really important that Slimani found the net last weekend and that could give him the confidence to continue scoring goals for Monaco. He has scored 8 goals this season and assisted in another seven which has been really impressive.

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Ligue 1: Player of the Week: Alexander Djiku

Alexander Djiku who plays for Strasbourg picked up 9 points at the weekend and he is the player of the week in Ligue 1.

Although his team mate, Kenny Lala also got 9 points it was down to fine margins, simply put Djiku not only got the ball rolling by scoring from open play as Strasbourg beat Reims, but Lala scored a penalty.

For Djiku it was the perfect game, as Strasbourg beat Reims 3-0, with Djiku being a defender it meant that he picked up points for a clean sheet as well as his goal. It was a goal scored in the 50th minute with the tie still at 0-0, so very important and it was a fantastic header too by Djiku which would ultimately break the deadlock.

You could sense that both him and his team were extra happy with the victory over Reims given that Reims had knocked them out of the Coupe de la Ligue just a few weeks ago. That game ending 0-0 and Strasbourg being the better side but going out on a penalty shoot-out.

As for Djiku that goal was his first of the season from 22 starts, he has also assisted in a goal too. However the player’s main duty is keeping things tight at the back and this season he has been able to keep 7 clean sheets. For his team he ranks in at third with 30 points and is 8 behind Kenny Lala.

From a wider point of view Djiku is currently 19th for his position in the league. If you’re thinking of adding the player to your team he would cost you 7m.

It was a big win nonetheless for Strasbourg who have moved up to 6th place with 36 points and are just 4 points shy of the top four and five points from a possible Champions League place. It has been a yo-yo season for the club so far but form is good and they have won 3 from their last four games.

Djiku is just 25 and has his best years ahead of him. It’s a tough ask for him to break into the national side given the quality they already have in defence. This is the player’s first season with Strasbourg and he has made an impact at the back, at home for example the club have only conceded 14 goals with Djiku at the back.

At 6ft tall he is the perfect height for a defender and with the club picking up wins, and him scoring a goal this should give him some more confidence to finish the season well.

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Rennes make a bid for the Champions League as Neymar and Mbappe overshadow PSG win

Rennes made big strides to try and qualify for the Champions League as they beat Nantes in a five goal thriller winning 3-2 at home. Raphinha was the hero for the home side grabbing two goals. Rennes would be a major surprise to make the Champions League but that is what finishing 2nd gives teams and they edged up each week to Marseille. The gap is just three points.

And the gap is three points because Marseille have imploded, or rather look like they are. The club have not lost for 10 matches but that makes no odds when you are drawing games and not winning them and they drew yet again on Sunday night, this time in disappointing fashion away to Bordeaux with the game ending 0-0.

That draw effectively ended Marseille’s already slim hopes of winning the league. Only a few weeks ago they had shortened the gap to league leaders PSG by 5 points but now that stands at 12 and it looks very difficult to think that PSG will drop so many points and Marseille will go on such a consistent run.

As for PSG, not many people would think that they had a fantastic result at the weekend when they overpowered Montpellier to win 5-0. Pablo Sarabia who has been in good form for the club opened the scoring.  It was interesting to see that from the five goals scored only one was scored by either Kylian Mbappe or Neymar. And it was Mbappe who got it, with Neymar assisting. All should have been well then with such an emphatic victory but it wasn’t.

The referee booked Neymar after an exchange of words that saw the Brazilian at half time question the officials, to which they replied, ”speak French”. Then there was Mbappe who realised that he needed one more goal to be joint top goalscorer in Ligue 1 with Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder. But PSG coach Thomas Tuchel instead took the player off for Mauro Icardi and Mbappe was furious with his coach. A heated exchange of words could be clearly seen and Mbappe sat in the dug out looking very gloom. Now the inevitable has happened and the media have linked Mbappe with a move away from Paris. One has to feel for Tuchel, he doesn’t always get it right but at the same time he has quite a few egos in the dressing room.

Lille got an important victory away to Strasbourg by winning 2-1. It was only Lille’s 2nd away victory of the season and came courtesy of a Victor Omishen penalty, the player has been in great form lately and that win took the club into 4th place and six points behind 3rd placed Rennes.

Lyon just can’t find enough consistency and after going their last 3 games unbeaten they came unstuck away to Nice, who have not lost a game in Ligue 1 for two months. To make matters worse for Lyon Fernando Marcal was sent off early on. Though the hosts also lost a player they just shaded the game. To be fair to Lyon with 7 strikes on goal they were hardly poor, but they will have to pick themselves up once more. The objective this season has to be a European finish and despite this fresh set back they are just two points from their target.

Reims propped up the table again and into 7th place after they surprised Angers and won 4-1 at Stade Raymond Kopa. Reims had been behind and the surprise was not just the comeback but the fact that they scored so many goals. Prior to the game the club had scored just 17 all season. What was also interesting is that Reims had just 4 shots on target and everyone of them ended in a goal.

With Nice beating Lyon as mentioned above they have moved into 8th and that has cost Nantes who lost to Rennes a top 8 place.

There are midweek games in Ligue 1 this weekend and Champions League and Europa League spots will be up once again for grabs.

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Ligue 1 Player of the Weekend: Gaetan Charbonnier

It’s very possible you haven’t heard much about the Ligue 1 player of the weekend Gaetan Charbonnier. The striker was in impressive form as his club Brest destroyed bottom of the table Toulouse this past weekend by 5 goals to 2.

Charbonnier who is 31 has been in spectacular form since joining Brest. When the team played Toulouse in their last game it was seen as a tough game given that this was an away match and even though Toulouse have been very poor this season this was supposed to be quite a test for Brest who themselves had fallen down the table into the bottom half and hadn’t won for the last 3 games.

Charbonnier went on to score 2 goals in the game and assist in the fifth and final goal. Indeed it was his goals number 2 and 3 which ended up settling the game in his teams favour. His 2nd goal was the pick of the bunch. A great build up play between players and then a direct cross led to Charbonnier turning brightly and slotting home, the goal was like a pin ball strike and it killed the game off for Toulouse.

It hasn’t been an easy season for the striker who despite starting 17 games has only scored 3 goals this season, with 2 coming just last weekend. Though he has assisted in a further five goals.

The Brest striker is valued at 5m and earned 10 points this weekend beating off competition from PSG’s star striker Neymar and he has a total of 15 points so far. He has been booked 3 times and so far has no red cards to his name. Charbonnier will be hoping that the game against Toulouse opens up more opportunities for him in front of goal, and whilst he has had a poor first half of the season by his standards, the second half could be completely different. He is certainly great value at 5m if his form was to change after his man of the match performance.

Last season Charbonnier scored 27 goals, his best tally in Ligue 1 football and that is why this season has felt underwhelming. His best days are with Brest no doubt where he has become a prolific scorer but at this time his career will be remembered for playing well over 100 games with Stade Reims.

It could be worth adding Charbonnier to your team. Brest will have the objective to move back up the table and try to finish in the top half of the table after scoring 5 goals in one game, Brest and Charbonnier are pointing in the right direction.

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Reims owners looking for a bright future in Ligue 1 for France’s most historic team

It has been quite a decade for Reims, arguably the most historic side in Ligue 1. But their star went out after their glorious European cup runs of the 1950s and soon enough they were playing Ligue 2 football.

Finally Reims were promoted to Ligue 1 in the 2011/12 season, and even though they were relegated a few seasons after, they have bounced back and seem to be a staple team in France’s top tier.

This season has seen the club flirt with the top half of the table and currently they are in 6th place with 28 points. It would be incredibly emotional for the city and club and owners of course to play European football again. A Europa League place looks like it could be a reality, but of course the club would love to play Europe’s finest teams and that would mean reaching the Champions League.  The bad news is that they are 10 points from making that happen, the good news is that they are 5 points from making the Champions League qualifiers.

The club received great news this week as they qualified for the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue after they beat Strasbourg in a penalty shoot out. The Coupe de la Ligue is the secondary cup competition in France and it will be the final time the cup will be played to reduce congested fixtures, vote was made last September. Winning the cup would be a route into Europe of course.

So how have Reims gone from Ligue 2 to possibly qualifying for European football next season? There has been something brewing at the club for quite some time. Take club president Jean-Pierre Caillot who has been been president for less than 10 years but has been involved in the infrastructure and sponsorship deals connecting the club since the early 1990s.

He was the one that helped hire current manager David Guion and again it is all about longevity. Guion joined the set up at Reims in 2012 managing the youth team, then the B team. When he took charge as caretaker manager in 2017 he did such an impressive job that he was kept on full time and Reims are now enjoying the fruit of their labour, having the best season they have had in a generation so far.

It is no wonder at the heart of Reims success has been in defence given that Guion was a defender in his playing days. Guion has siged a few key players with the help of the owner and one of those who has turned out to be outstanding is Yunis Abdelhamid, he is 2nd ranked in EFL fantasy points for Ligue 1 as a defender.

Reims have conceded just 10 goals this season, the best alongside PSG, and the club seem to be in the best ownership for an era.

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Sacking season in Ligue 1 as Jardim and Kombouare lose their jobs

The Ligue 1 season wasn’t showing many managerial changes so far but we have had two very recent ones.

The major one was Monaco sacking Leonardo Jardim. You’ve read that right. The club sacked him last year as got Thierry Henry as their coach and that was a stuff of nightmares before Jardim was brought back to the club. He was able to steer Monaco clear of relegation last season which they looked like they would be heading for.

This season Monaco had vastly improved and are sitting in 7th place. This is a near miracle when we compare how poor the side have been for the past few seasons. Form has also been good with 3 wins in their last four games and unbeaten in the league since the end of November. Indeed the club are just 3 points from a top 4 position. They also knocked out Reims 2-1 at the weekend in the French Cup.

Jardim’s sacking seems odd when the club were in good fortunes and one suspects that he has either had a falling out with the board or players. Maybe we won’t know the full extent of what happened for some time. Monaco have wasted very little time and already have Jardim’s successor in Roberto Moreno the former Spanish coach, whose first game in the dugout will be away to PSG, ouch!

Also sacked is Antoine Kombouare from Toulouse. This news came as no shock given that the club are bottom of the league. They are 5 points from safety and have lost 13 of their 19 games so far this season. The club had many problems in defence which was underlined by conceding 39 goals this season alone.

To add more misery to the clubs fortunes they managed to lose 10 games in a row which is a record for them. At the weekend as if to rub salt in the wounds the club were knocked out of the French Cup. What made it worse was that they lost to a non league side.

Toulouse will now be looking for their third manager this season alone, in a campaign where relegation to Ligue 2 looks destined.

The two sackings close together bring the sack race in Ligue 1 to four this season after Sylvinho was given his marching orders from Lyon and Ghislain Printant was sacked from Saint Etienne. We could well count on a few more sackings in the next few weeks as owners look at the current positions in the league and look towards their options.

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Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Ismaila Sarr

Ismaïla-Sarr(1)

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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