Ligue 1: Fantasy Player Picks for Week 26

There are just 13 games to go until the end of the season and whilst PSG are cruising to another league title, Champions League and Europa League places are indeed up for grabs. Relegation will be contested too. We take a look below to see which players could well perform the best at the weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy- Rennes

Rennes have conceded 7 goals in their last 10 games and that is the 2nd best record in Ligue 1. Mendy has been at the heart of this and Rennes will try and bounce back to winning ways and will be the favourites at home to Nimes at the weekend.

Defender: Damien Da Silva- Rennes

Da Silva has been strong at the back for Rennes and we are backing them to do well at home to Nimes. Da Silva has already been able to keep 8 clean sheets this season and is valued at just 5m which looks like a bargain.

Defender: Hamari Traore-Rennes

Another Rennes player but Traore has really built up a good chemistry with Da Silva and the two of them have been the difference in keeping 8 clean sheets this season for their club.

Defender: Alvaro- Marseille

Marseille did concede in their last game v Lille in a 2-1 win but Alvaro has been an important player and the club have a great defensive record of late. They are also returning back home to face Nantes and Alvaro has not only kept 8 clean sheets he can be brought in to your team for just 4.5m.

Defender: Jose Fonte- Lille

Everyone knows the quality of Lille, who rarely lose at home, and even though they did last weekend it was to 2nd placed Marseille. But they will be at home again this time to bottom club Toulouse and will be the big odds on favourites to win. Fonte has kept 8 clean sheets and has 22 points so far, he is valued at 7.5m and looks to be a great addition at least for this weekend.

Midfielder: Tiemoue Bakayoko- Monaco

Bakayoko has been brilliant in midfield as Monaco have found form and won their last 3 games and they play Dijon away where he could put in another good game. He has helped keep 5 clean sheets.

Midfielder: Steven N’Zonzi-Rennes

Steven N’Zonzi is coming back from injury so has next to no points, but he will have a point to prove to keep his midfielder’s position as Rennes return back home to play Nimes.

Midfielder: Dmitri Lienard- Strasbourg

Lienard has been good at scoring and creating goals for his position and has also helped keep 6 clean sheets. He can be a dangerous and gifted player and his club will be at home to Amiens where they will start as the favourites to win, could be a shrewd call to bring the player in.

Midfielder: Bouna Sarr- Marseille

Bouna Sarr has been impressive lately and Marseille will be at home to Nantes. Sarr can play in a more attacking midfield role, so there is hope that he will have plenty of opportunities.

Striker: Victor Osimhen- Lille

We have picked Osimhen on a few occasions and the reason is that the player is in great form for Lille. But at the weekend he will face off against Toulouse the poorest team in Ligue 1 so far. He will have great chances to add to his goals.

Striker: Ludovic Ajorque- Strasbourg

Strasbourg have got some form and will be expected to beat and score a few against Amiens at the weekend. Ajorque already has 8 goals and has assisted in a further four and would cost just 4m.

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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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PSG win 6 goal thriller against Lyon as brilliant Lille close in on 3rd place

A meeting between the two most successful sides in French football over the last 20 years was always going to garner the most attention and PSG and Lyon who have won 14 league titles between them in the last 17 league seasons didn’t let anyone down.

The game in Paris ended 4-2 to the league champions and whilst Lyon played their part they simply could not handle just how good PSG were. Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe had seemingly wrapped up the game early on as PSG went in at half time 2-0 up. In the first half they had dominated possession and allowed no shots on target for the visitors.

The game was, in effect, over just a few minutes into the second half when PSG went 3-0 up courtesy of a bizarre own goal scored by Fernando Marcel. It was bizarre in the fact that it was such a good clinical goal- had it been a PSG player we would have been talking about it for some time. The player was obviously devastated and sunk to the ground in disbelief, he knew the game was over.

But then a miracle almost happened as Lyon’s Martin Terrier and Moussa Dembele who has been so good for Lyon this season both scored in the space of 7 minutes and suddenly Lyon were back in the game it was 3-2 with half an hour still to play. But PSG showed quality as they took down the level of the game and controlled the pace. Finally with ten minutes to go Edinson Cavani scored for the home side to win the game 4-2 and it was an important redemption goal for the Uruguayan who has felt left out of the side and was so close to leaving in the January transfer window. PSG remain on top with 61 points and are 12 points clear of Marseille.

Marseille did win at the weekend but they were quite disappointing at home against the bottom side Toulouse winning just 1-0 through a Dimitri Payet goal, Payet is on great form lately but Marseille had just 3 shots on target against a club who have conceded 49 goals this season and more was expected of them. Nonetheless a win is a win and it was actually a decent weekend for Marseille because Rennes in 3rd place could only draw 0-0 at home to Brest.

Rennes have put unnecessary pressure on themselves now to claim a top 3 place, they have no wins in their last 2 games and only 1 victory in their last four. The pressure was maximised because Lille won their 3rd straight game in a row to move within one point of Rennes. Lille beat Angers 2-0 away from home and the club have started to improve on the road after a nightmare start, in form Victor Osimhen opened the scoring for Lille who eased to a win.

Montpellier are in 5th after a 1-0 win over Bordeaux as Andy Delort scored his 9th goal of the season. The win was even more impressive for Montpellier as they played a large section of the game with 10 men after Solomon Sambia was sent off.

Strasbourg’s good form continued and they have now won 3 games from their last four to go into 6th place after they easily beat Reims 3-0, a direct rival for a European finish. The club got their revenge over Reims after the side had knocked them out of the Coupe de la Ligue at the quarter final stage with a penalty shoot out. Reims had zero shots on goal in the whole game and they have slipped to 10th place as a result.

Are Monaco recovering and starting to show what they can do under new coach Robert Moreno? Well the club did win their 2nd game in a row as they beat Amiens away from home 2-1. It was only Monaco’s 3rd win on the road and a first for Moreno away from home. However Monaco were heading for defeat, with just a few minutes left of the game Amiens were winning 1-0. But Ligue 1 top goalscorer Wissam Ben Yedder struck for the equaliser and then Islam Slimani became the hero of the day scoring in injury time. Cesc Fabregas had only been on the pitch for 4 minutes as he came off of the bench to assist in the winning goal. That moves the club up to 7th place.

Bordeaux moved to 8th after they beat Metz 2-1 away from home and the club have now gone their last 4 matches unbeaten. Remi Oudin a new signing from Reims got the winner for Bordeaux with just five minutes remaining to start his career with his new club in memorable style.

There is just 3 points between 8th and 5th and so much to play for in the league regarding European places. Marseille have taken a large step in the right direction to qualify for the Champions League and now have an 8 point lead over Rennes in 3rd place. PSG look like they have won the league, but will the upcoming Champions League games distract the team, if so it is only Marseille who have the smallest of chances of catching them. Watch this space as the league hots up with just 14 games and 42 points left to play for.

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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 Fantasy Player Picks: Week 22

Week 22 of Ligue 1 kicks off on Friday and below we have picked the players most likely to brag the points at the weekend based on fixtures and form.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy- Rennes

Mendy has been in great form conceding just 2 goals in the last five games. Rennes will play Nantes on Friday and Mendy will be looking for his 7th clean sheet.

Defender: Jeremy Morel- Rennes

Not much has been said about Jeremy Morel but he has been part of a stubborn Rennes defence and has helped his side to 6 clean sheets this season, he has 28 points this season and is valued at 6m.

Defender: Marcelo- Lyon

Marcelo is starting to become a regular at the back for Lyon who kept a clean sheet against Toulouse in their last game. They are away to Nice at the weekend, it won’t be an easy game but the defender will be tipped to do well again.

Defender: Bakaye Dibassy- Amiens

Amiens have struggled this season but at the weekend they will play bottom club Toulouse who have been very poor. Dibassy has a chance to make this his 3rd clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Hiroki Sakai-Marseille

Hiroki Sakai has been in fine form for Marseille they will play Bordeaux away. This won’t be an easy game by any means but Marseille who are in 2nd place in the league will try to win and hopefully keep a clean sheet. Sakai has helped keep 7 so far.

Midfielder: Pierrick Capelle- Angers

Angers have been in decent form and they will be at home to Reims at the weekend. This could be a low scoring game and close. Capelle has scored one goal so far and provided two assists and he is a decent bargain at 6m to bring in.

Midfielder: Flavien Tait- Rennes

Tait has hit good form and perhaps it is the right time to pick him? He has 10 points and is valued at 7.5m. His start to the season has been slow but he is in a good moment now and his team Rennes will play Nantes on Friday.

Midfielder: Cesc Fabregas- Monaco

Cesc Fabregas has sometimes had to start from the bench but he might get the nudge to start this game because Monaco are suffering some poor form. He hasn’t scored as yet from his 10 games but he has provided two assists. He could well come in handful this weekend when Monaco play Nimes away from home.

Midfielder: Ibrahima Sissoko- Strasbourg

Sissoko has been on good form and was heavily involved last weekend when he assisted for one of Strasbourg’s goals when they beat Monaco. He is only 4.5m to bring into your team.

Striker: Wissam Ben Yedder- Monaco

Ben Yedder is the top goalscorer but has been a little off form lately, Monaco really need him to produce the goals, and he could well do that against opposition like Nimes at the weekend.

Striker: Habib Diallo- Metz

If Metz stay up this season it will be because of Habib Diallo who has bagged 11 goals this season. Metz are at home to Saint Etienne and Diallo could well fancy his chances to add to his tally.

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PSG go 10 points clear as Lyon continue great form

PSG stretched their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 10 points as they gained revenge over Lille for last season’s 5-1 hammering by beating them in a more conservative scoreline of 2-0. But less goals don’t equal less points and this was an assured rounded display by PSG who are looking like a much more maturer side as each week passes by.

Neymar got both goals, one was a penalty and his total for the season is 13. He has gone into joint 2nd place and is only one goal behind Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder. It was an emotional night for Neymar following the tragic events earlier in the day that saw Basketball legend Kobe Bryant die in a helicopter crash. The both of them were very good friends and Neymar dedicated his goals to him.

No team looks like catching PSG and if one team were going to give a challenge it was going to be Marseille, but they dropped points. Their 0-0 home result against Angers yielded just 2 shots on target between both clubs- both shots coming from Marseille. Whilst L’OM did fall 10 points behind PSG, the good news is that 3rd placed Rennes also drew which means the gap between 2nd and 3rd is still 5 points. Rennes drew 1-1 away to Nice with Flavien Tait scoring for Rennes- this was the midfielders first goal for his club this season.

The trio of Montpellier, Lyon and Nantes are now a threat to 3rd place for Rennes and the final qualifying position for a Champions League spot. Montpellier won their 3rd game in a row after beating Dijon 2-1 with Andy Delort in fine form getting the winner for the home side. They are now 4 points behind Rennes.

The good form of Lyon continues as the club tipped to challenge PSG this season beat bottom placed Toulouse 3-0 in a widely expected result. Maxwell Cornet opened the scoring and it was a game dominated by the home side. Nantes have 32 points but they lost at the weekend, 1-0 to Bordeaux and they could be dropping off given that they have lost 2 of their last three games.

Lille are in the poorest form for top half clubs and their defeat against PSG means they have lost 3 games in a row. Whilst they are in 7th place they have scored just 1 goal in their past three matches and conceded 8 goals, their next game is a tough one, away to Strasbourg. Rounding out the top 8 is Strasbourg, so that match should be an interesting one.

Strasbourg claimed their 4th win from five games with a surprise result as they went to Monaco and beat them 3-1. Ludovic Ajorque who has been in fine form opened the scoring.

Whilst it looks like PSG will be winning the league again, the race for 3rd is looking like one of the most exciting in years. There is just 7 points between 3rd and 8th and even Monaco back in 13th position are just a further point behind.

Round 22 kicks off this Friday.

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PSG slip up, Marseille take steps forward and Lyon show their strengths

PSG rarely drop points at home, before the Monaco game at the weekend they had dropped 3 points since the beginning of the season, a surprise loss against Reims. They also love playing Monaco where they had scored 14 goals in their last 3 league meetings. But on Sunday evening there would be similar stories and different ones.

Similar in the fact that the goals still came from PSG, add another 3, to the increasing tally they have converted against Monaco. When PSG score 3 goals at home you don’t even think at that point that the away team got anything from the game. Wrong. Monaco scored 3 too in a game that ended 3-3. It has already been voted in France as the game of the season so far, and it was nice to see what many people consider PSG’s real rivals, at least of the past decade go toe to toe with them and not just curl up and give up like they have the past two seasons.

A lot of credit has to be given to new Monaco coach Robert Moreno, the Spaniard admitted that he had set up his team to attack. Striker Wissam Ben Yedder scored one of their goals and the former Sevilla man has been in brilliant form. Neymar scored 2 of PSG’s goals and he is turning out to be having quite a successful season despite his off the field problems at the beginning of the season and the fact he has missed two periods out with injuries.

The result left PSG with 46 points, five ahead of Marseille but PSG have a game in hand. That match is being played tomorrow against ironically Monaco at Stade Louis II.

Marseille will be looking for their first title in a decade and it would be a special one to usurp PSG. But L’OM did record a vital victory over the weekend beating 3rd placed Rennes, who could have reeled them in. Instead Marseille have gone 8 points clear of them through the only goal of the game scored by Kevin Strootman.

Nantes beat Saint Etienne 2-0 as they continue to fall but Nantes have bounced back from defeat in their last game before this one to record 3 wins from their past five games, a Europa League place looks on for the club.

Lille have lost two games in a row after an away defeat against Dijon. Lille’s away form is very poor and it is only their home results that mean that they are 5th in the league. Gaeten Laborde scored again for Montpellier as they beat Amiens 2-1, and the striker is in great form having scored 3 goals in his past two games and helped his side climb up to 6th place.

Lyon like Montpellier may just have found form at the right time in what has been a troubled season for them. They overcame Bordeaux 2-1 with goals from Maxwell Cornet and Moussa Dembele and have gone their last two games unbeaten. And despite Monaco’s heroics they actually dropped a place to 8th, but form is very good for the club who have collected 20 points from their last 30, only goal difference separates them from 9th place Angers though.

The league is tight and there is still plenty to play for, the surprise is that the title is not PSG’s yet and that can only be good for French football.

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Lazio won’t win the Scudetto – but that doesn’t mean their herculean efforts don’t deserve celebration

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Lazio’s win over Juventus on Saturday was a statement.

Coming from behind to become the first team to beat Maurizio Sarri’s side this season certainly peaked the attention of any dozy onlookers who hadn’t noticed the momentum building on the blue side of Rome.

The result spoke volumes about the progress this team is making. And it spoke loudly.

It said that Simone Inzaghi’s side are no flat-track bullies, that this is a team capable of beating anyone on their day.

It said that the days of flopping on the big occasion, of failing to respond to adversity, of choking at crucial moments, are behind them. Continue reading

Rare Lazio comeback produces more questions than answers ahead of trip to Celtic

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The contrast was startling.

After a drab, eventless first half in a must-win Europa League fixture against Rennes on Thursday, Simone Inzaghi turned to his bench early in the second.

He made a double substitution, bringing on rested star men Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the hope of injecting some life into his team’s performance.

The strategy didn’t get off to the best of starts when the hosts almost immediately conceded the opening goal, but it soon paid off as Alberto set up Milinkovic-Savic for the opener before the Serbian’s cross found the head of Ciro Immobile to complete the comeback. Continue reading

Top Ligue 1 Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Benoit Costil

Benoit Costil’s career will always be remembered by his time at Rennes but since 2017 he has been guarding the goal of Bordeaux and this past season he had a decent campaign with Bordeaux finishing in the top half of the league and for him he finished 7th with 35 points.

During the season he kept 9 clean sheets which was impressive for the 32 year old and he ended up being the only goal keeper from the top 9 in Ligue 1 that was neither sent off or booked for the whole season.

Costil’s went into last season with a value of 8m. While Bordeaux struggled at times, they did find enough form at one point in the season to think they could challenge for a Europa League finish but it quickly became evident that it couldn’t be the case for this year.

Costil started the season with by earning -4 points in his opening two games as the club kept conceding goals. In fact it wouldn’t get easier for him at the beginning of the season as in the next games Bordeaux beat Monaco but conceded with that match finishing 2-1 and the following game ended in a 2-0 loss to Rennes. The next match was a thriller but for Costil it did his points total no favours as Bordeaux drew 3-3 with Nimes. The next match ended in a 3-1 win over Guingamp but again Bordeaux had conceded. It meant that Costil did not earn any positive points until his 7th game of the season. But once he started he couldn’t at least for a while stop.

The great run begun when Bordeaux beat Lille and Costil kept 3 clean sheets in a row to earn 21 points. While he would gain some more consistency it was this run which started at the end of September and ran until the first week of October that ended up being the goal keeper’s best run of the season.

His single worst game points was against Nimes, Saint Etienne and Lyon were in those fixtures he earned -4 points on each occasion.

Costil ended the season much like he had begun it and earned no points in his last 6 games with a total points haul of -10.

This wasn’t a great season for Costil, although in some games he was outstanding, but Bordeaux simply were not strong enough and it showed. Still Costil beat his total from the season before which was 31,and he will be hoping to improve in the points stakes and try to keep a few more clean sheets next season.

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