Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Thiago Silva

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Thiago Silva feels like part of the furniture at multi champions PSG and the Brazilian has certainly been loyal to the club from Paris. He joined the club in 2012 from AC Milan and has played almost 200 league games and counting cups that rises to almost 300 games.

It was another solid year for Silva in the back four even if it meant just the league title this season as PSG imploded in the domestic cups and also the Champions League. Still at 34 Silva is rightly regarded as one of the best defenders in the game today.

Silva started the season with a value of 9.5m in the fantasy rankings and finished 5th in the defenders rankings for Ligue 1. He earned 60 points and was just four shy of fellow Brazilian Dante Costa. Silva has never been one for his goals, which is justifiable given his position and he did not score any this past season although he did assist in one goal. He was able to be part of a four man wall that kept 14 clean sheets and he was booked on four occasions, but not sent off.

Whilst Silva did earn 5 points for keeping a clean sheet in PSG’s opening 4-0 victory over Caen it was in the following games where he struggled. Even though PSG won their next 3 matches, they conceded in each of them including 2 against Nimes and that meant that Silva was punished and earned -1 point for those games.

Because Silva wasn’t able to earn any extra points through scoring goals his best points tally in single match was just 5, which he earned 14 times. He had two moments of good consistency in the season. The first was just before Christmas in a period which saw the champions thrash Guingamp 9-0 and he earned points in 4 games in a row. The other was towards the end of the season in February and onto March where he went another four games earning points which ended up totalling 19 points.

His worst points total coincided with PSG’s dismal poor form at the end of the season when they had virtually wrapped up the league title. He went the last four games of the season earning in just one game and letting slip -6 points in the other three games. His worst tally in one game ended up being against Lille when the team in 2nd place upset PSG at home and won 5-1, earning Silva -4 points.

Silva looks set to stay at PSG as it was announced before the end of the season that he and his family had been confirmed as French citizens- and that can only be a benefit for French football and PSG. He also earned one more point this past season than the season before.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers in 2018/19: Neymar

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Several books could be written on Neymar’s season with PSG, and this was supposed to be the season that Neymar helped the French champions to the Champions League trophy, the one the club are really after. What happened was that Neymar replicated last season and missed key games as the league ran down. It was a frustrating season for Neymar even if PSG did end up winning the Ligue 1 title again.

Most of this frustration was off the pitch. The Brazilian’s niggling injuries didn’t help- he played just 17 league games this season. Then he was outspoken about UEFA when Manchester United arguably did get the run of the luck when they dumped out PSG in Paris, he swore on social media and was handed with a 3 game ban. This means that whoever he is playing for next season he won’t play in 50% of the group games.

Then Neymar was involved with a Rennes fan after Rennes had upset PSG and won the Coupe de France. He appeared to hit the fan and after returning from injury he was suspended for another 3 games meaning that he didn’t even finish the season off properly with the club.

This was the nightmare season for Neymar in many ways, and yet he was still good enough to basically play half a season and finish as the 4th best striker in Ligue 1. He finished the season with 72 points and was able to score an incredible 15 goals from his 17 games and assisted in a further 7 goals. When he played PSG kept 6 clean sheets and no matter his temperament off the field on it he was almost impeccable receiving only 2 yellow cards.

What is remarkable about Neymar’s season is that the first 13 games that he played he always earned points. His best personal game was against Guingamp at the beginning of 2019 when PSG ran riot and won 9-0. Neymar helped himself to 2 goals and assisted in another in a very easy win.

On two occasions he earned zero points but he never finished a game this past season on minus points. His last contribution was against Angers on May 11th when PSG won 2-1 and he scored a goal and assisted in the other.

The question is, was that Neymar’s last game for PSG? It is no secret that the Brazilian wants away and wants to re-join Barcelona again for next season. Could PSG complain after spending over 200m euros on him, because they would make a profit on the player if they did sell him.

Despite some negative aspects surrounding Neymar, his showmanship and hard work rate have still been held high in France and it is difficult to judge a striker that scores goals. He has played 37 games in the league over two seasons and scored 34 goals. Injuries aside he has been one of the best players to grace the game in Ligue 1 in recent history.

What does the future hold? This summer will turn into a Neymar saga it appears.

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Top Ligue 1 Defenders in 2018/19: Marquinhos

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Marquinhos is going to go down as a legend with PSG no matter how his career ends with the current Ligue 1 champions. It feels like he has been at the club forever commanding the back four. The truth is he is still only 25 and has seen players come and go including one of the very first stars for PSG- Zlatan Ibrahimovic and yet here he is having enjoyed his 6th season with the club.

In the European Fantasy League rankings for Ligue 1 defenders Marquinhos finished in joint 2nd place with Malang Sarr of Lille and got 70 points from his value of 7.5m. He played 30 games and so is still seen as an integral part of the team and he was able to help with 13 clean sheets as PSG conceded 24 goals for the whole season in Ligue 1.

Marquinhos in true Brazilian style for a defender even contributed to some goals. He scored 3 this season and assisted in another two. He received 2 yellow cards and 1 sending off for the season.

His final ranking was such that he finished in 20th place for defenders in all the major European leagues.

The Brazilian started the season off in solid fashion earning 5 points as PSG kept a clean sheet in their 3-0 win against Caen. However in the next five games Marquinhos went through a rough period, where PSG were winning but conceding goals which was hitting him as a defender and in those five games he earned no points. Indeed because two goals were conceded against Nimes, even though PSG won that game 4-2 he ended up with -1 point for that period of time.

However after those games Marquinhos picked up a huge 21 points in his next 3 matches including scoring 9 points when PSG beat Amiens 5-0. He kept a clean sheet and also scored a goal, this is the most points that he would earn in a single game all season.

Towards the end of the season there was another bout of non consistency as PSG ran away with the league and when it was confirmed the club struggled to stay focused especially when they exited the Champions League to Manchester United. It meant that in Marquinhos’ last five games he ended up with a total score of -4 points, as PSG kept conceding silly goals and were losing almost on a weekly basis.

For Marquinhos the job was done though and yet another Ligue 1 title came his way. It was also an improvement on the previous seasons score when he managed 52 points, and surely he would have earned more points had PSG remained on their game until the end of the season.

Marquinhos remains an important player for PSG and even more than that since he gets on with his job and isn’t looking for a move away he is very respected at the club.

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Top Ligue 1 Strikers of 2018/19: Kylian Mbappe

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Kylian Mbappe had another fantastic season as he scored 33 goals and topped the lead goal scorers list in France as a result. His goals were the primary cause for PSG winning another Ligue 1 title as Mbappe underlined his reputation as one of the best strikers in Europe.

This season in particular was a massive step up for Mbappe when we consider his previous seasons. Before the start of 2018/19 season the most league goals Mbappe had scored in one season was 15, for Monaco, in season 2016/17. This season he managed 18 more goals and the plaudits need to be lauded on the player for the following reason; he was able to step up after PSG lost the services of both Edinson Cavani and Neymar and Mbappe then became the main player and forward for the club.

Let’s analyse his season. Mbappe started off with a bang when he scored a brace against Guingamp in a fairly routine win and all of this happened despite him only playing 50 minutes of the game. Within the first 2 games of the season he had acquired 14 points and never really looked back.

His best game of the season happened in matchday 5 when PSG destroyed league rivals Lyon 5-0 in Paris. Mbappe was heavily involved and scored an incredible 4 goals, he also picked up bonus points for getting a hat-trick and ended the game with 18 points. Other highlights of the season included scoring a hat-trick and making an assist in PSG’s 9-0 victory over Guingamp, that earned him 16 points and he earned another 14 with another hat-trick against Monaco later in the season.

There were only 4 games when Mbappe failed to record any points and he remained consistent throughout the season. One such instance of this was at the beginning of the season where Mbappe scored points in the first 8 weeks of the season.

Mbappe finished on a huge 144 points in Ligue 1 Fantasy Football rankings and finished 35 points ahead of Nicolas Pepe. His value going into last season was 10.5m and perhaps after having such a great season his value may go up next season. Overall Mbappe would rank 2nd in the strikers list with only Lionel Messi at Barcelona having gained more points.

It is still incredible to think that he is only 20 years old and he has already won 6 major trophies including a World Cup and 3 Ligue 1 titles with PSG and Monaco.

As for his future it looks destined to be away from Ligue 1, but he looks like he will stay with PSG for the foreseeable future and will remain the main focus point of Ligue 1 football. He is arguably the most special talent in classic centre forward style since the Brazilian Ronaldo.

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Kylian Mbappe makes demands to PSG in front of stunned crowd at awards show

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The French have a saying for when you put your foot in it, it’s called faux pas and PSG striker Kylian Mbappe did just that at the French football awards at the weekend. Mbappe received the highest award with winning the player of the season in France and then hinted in front of a packed audience that included PSG’s owners and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel that his future may lie elsewhere, it was a stunning moment.

Mbappe took his award and then told everyone listening: “It’s a very important moment for me, I come to a turning point in my career. I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility.I hope that can perhaps be at Paris St Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”

Mbappe’s statement is one of intent and he is clearly not happy at PSG. This in part may be to do with the fact that the club keep blowing up at the knockout rounds of the Champions League but at the same time there is a strong feeling that Real Madrid have approached PSG and offered upwards of 250 million euros for the player.

The 20 year old joined the club in 2017 after guiding Monaco to a Ligue 1 title, initially this was on a loan deal before he joined for a transfer fee in the region of £160m becoming the 2nd most expensive player in history behind Neymar his PSG teammate.

While Mbappe has had a fantastic season scoring 32 goals in just 28 games and 38 overall this season his speech will strike some as shocking. At just 20 he wants to rule the roost and have his say, and while he undoubtedly has the talent to be remembered as one of the greats one could wonder if he isn’t getting too ahead of himself. Or could it be that Real Madrid have already made contact and Mbappe was asked to stoke the fires somewhat- to do that in this company, well he has got a reaction that is for sure.

So what can PSG do to keep the player happy? First will be a wage rise, next could be that Mbappe wants more say, what exactly that extends to is anyone’s guess, but he has now laid down a marker and it feels that it is only a question of when and not if Mbappe leaves the club. The destination looks set for Madrid, rare has any player in the past turned the club down, why should that stop at Mbappe?

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Is Jose Mourinho nearing the PSG job?

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Love him or dislike him football doesn’t quite feel the same without the special one Jose Mourinho involved in it, and no Russian punditry doesn’t count. It is obviously only a matter of time before Mourinho is back in management, but with what club will it be for?

With the Premier League and La Liga seemingly ruled out for the time being it seems that Mourinho’s next move could either be to go Italy, he is loved at Inter Milan or perhaps a new fresh challenge in France’s Ligue 1.

A few weeks ago Mourinho was being linked to French giants Lyon, this made sense given that the PSG job looked like a total no- no given how strong the club had been under coach Thomas Tuchel in his debut season.

The problem with Lyon is that they have regularly been a good 20 points off of PSG’s pace. Could the presence of Mourinho and a fresh cheque book really make a difference and end PSG’s dominance in France? It would make for a great challenge for Mourinho, who has never really taken a risk in football since joining Inter Milan a decade ago.

But time is short and quick in football and now Tuchel at PSG is under pressure. Since news broke of Mourinho possibly going to Ligue 1 PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United, a team in transition and a team PSG had beat in England in the 1st leg 2-0. PSG had bottled it once again ran the headlines and to be frank it felt like they did.

Then the club missed out on a domestic double by losing the Coupe de France final to unfancied Rennes, all of a sudden PSG won just one trophy this season and have lost countless times as the season comes to an end. It has been a bittersweet one for Tuchel even if PSG did win the league.

The cracks are there that weren’t a few months ago, indeed coming into the new year Tuchel and PSG seemed like the perfect fit. No body is talking about it but surely the threat of Mourinho lurks around the corner for Tuchel.

At the same time Mourinho has had two complete meltdowns in his last 2 jobs and PSG must be weary of that. Has Mourinho learned from those experiences and more importantly is he willing to learn. Just for the circus of it all having Mourinho in Paris seems great for football, but Tuchel may well still be the right man for the club if they give him time.

 

Why Neymar and Cavani are undermining Thomas Tuchel at PSG

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Thomas Tuchel arrived at PSG last summer full of smiles and ambitions. Despite leading the club to another league title, it is coming to the end of the season and you’d have a better chance of finding hens teeth than a smile on Tuchel’s face.

There has been two evident problems. Neymar and Edinson Cavani- the two strikers for PSG, who let’s face it, have never got along well. Ever since the pair had an inflated ego row about who would take a penalty soon after Neymar completed his surprise switch from Barcelona, tempers have flared. You can pretend that arguing over a penalty means little and it can be forgotten about, but it never was.

Cavani knew that the presence of Neymar meant that he would get less goals and that all of a sudden he wasn’t the biggest fish in the Paris pond. At the same time Neymar needed to establish himself as the euro 200m signing that he was being prepped up to be- the most expensive player in the history of football couldn’t just let Cavani get on and take that penalty. The arguments and slight jabs have not stopped. And yet both players could be exiting the club in the summer, which one will hold the door for the other is the 64 million question.

All of this seems to be undermining the job that Tuchel has on his hands at PSG- perhaps the German coach cannot control the egos- who knows? Look at Neymar recently handed a 3 match ban by UEFA for insulting the match officials on social media after the club were admittingly controversially knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United. Neymar will miss the first 3 games of the group stages no matter what club he plays for next season.

Then after returning from injury he played in the Coupe de France final only for PSG to lose 3-2. Neymar then lashed out at a fan after what appeared to be harmless banter. Proceedings have been opened up against the player, who could miss the rest of the season.

The case of Edinson Cavani is according to reports that the player wants to leave the club and move to the Premier League. He has put in a good service for PSG, though always come up short in Europe. But the timing just seems wrong from Cavani, it feels like a lack of respect and quite controversial to announce he wants away when he has missed a chunk of the season due to injury and received support from his club in the process.

Will Tuchel keep his job? He deserves too only to possibly see the back of one or even both players and try to get an ego free season from the club that is simply riddled with it. One suspects all three subjects in this piece could be on their merry way that is the circus around the city of Paris right now. We will have to wait and see.

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Ligue 1 Player of the Week: Kylian Mbappe

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Everything came together in Ligue 1 at the weekend as Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick on Sunday against his former team Monaco in Paris as PSG won the league title.

Mbappe’s 3 goals earned him more points than any other player in Ligue 1 Fantasy Football with 14. He is top of the rankings with an overall haul of 132 points and has a value of 10.5m. He is a cool 35 points in front of the next best player Nicolas Pepe who plays for Lille.

Mbappe is also the top goal scorer in Ligue 1 with 30 goals and one has to remind themselves that he is just 20 years old- oh and of course he has a World Cup already to his name. In a week where his team mate Dani Alves became the most decorated player in history with his 42nd trophy, one has to wonder if Mbappe will surpass this record. Alves is 15 years older than Mbappe and if we say that the French forward has at least another 15 years at the very top then he has plenty of time to catch him up, he currently has 7 trophies to his name.

The 20 year old has been not just the best player in Ligue 1 this week, or this season but the best player in world football in the past 12 months. One has to wonder if Ronaldo or Lionel Messi would have won world player of the year had they won a domestic treble and then the World Cup last season. Mbappe didn’t, FIFA seemed to back out of that decision based on his then age of 19. No matter it is only a question of time, perhaps this will be the year but then again PSG were knocked out of the Champions League at the round of 16 and that could affect that vote.

Mbappe has recovered well in recent weeks too- the player was dropped from he defeat at Nantes after he criticised the teams commitment on the back of drawing 2-2 with Strasbourg and then the horrific 5-1 defeat at the hands of Lille. Of course it was just a stay of execution PSG were always going to win the league, in the end it simply dragged on more than they would have liked.

He has proven to be the ultimate striker and his pace is electrifying. Against Monaco one of his runs clocked in at an a average of 38km p/h that is quicker than 100m world record holder Usain Bolt.

For his hat-trick Mbappe was set up twice by Alves and he even hit the post meaning he could have ended the night with more goals. And there is more.

In scoring 30 goals in a single season Mbappe became the first French player to reach that feat in Ligue 1 since the great Jean- Pierre Papin.

Mbappe by light years wins the Ligue 1 player of the week in reality he should be winning every other personal competition he is involved in too. An absolute star to treasure with an even greater future ahead of him.

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PSG will win the league but the owners and fans crave for more

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PSG chalked up their 26th win of the Ligue 1 season from 29 games to reach the 80 point mark at the weekend after beating Toulouse 1-0. They need just 4 points from their next 8 games to confirm their 7th league title in 8 years and of course it is just a matter of time before they do it. But let’s be honest since November it has been when not if when referring to PSG’s league title.

Thomas Tuchel has had a walk in the park, or so that is what many people will tell you. On reflection this has been an easy league title win, but does such a term truly exist? PSG have had to work incredibly hard for their results, something a passing fan of football would not see. Yes they have had some easy victories and fantastic results but there have also been battles which they have got themselves into winning games by one goal margins like 2-1 or 1-0, that could have easily have gone the other way. PSG have by far been the best team in the league but they have also had to work for it.

Take for example how they exited the Coupe de la Ligue, in Paris against the then bottom team Guingamp. Nobody could have seen that result coming, and before anyone thinks that France’s 2nd cup competition is not taken seriously by PSG look at the past five winners- all won by PSG. No complacency was the key in that defeat and the word should be used as a positive to all of the mega rich clubs out there. The reason these teams do not lose is down to not having complacency, otherwise as a general rule they would sweep up every game and competition they enter.

So PSG will win the league and the streets of Paris will cheer on their heroes, and yet there is the white elephant on the Champs Elysees the very same one that has stood there shrugging its shoulders and downing its trunk- where is that Champions League trophy?

Owners and fans will be delighted with another dominant Ligue 1 win and Thomas Tuchel’s job is safe for this season. But it was beyond disappointing for PSG to get knocked out this season against Manchester United when they were in total control of the match. And it has been the same year in year out for the club, sure fire victories snatched away by Barcelona and Real Madrid line the memories.

PSG have been called bottlers in the Champions League that is wrong and cruel on every level. But they do need to step up and realise that a knock out round is rarely ever decided in one leg. Repeated disappointments in Europe mean that whilst victory in Ligue 1 should be celebrated it may actually be quite muted by the owners of the club until Europe if ever comes calling.

What did Manchester United learn from loss against PSG?

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Manchester United headed into the first leg of the Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain with full confidence, given their fine form in recent weeks and the fact that Edinson Cavani and Neymar would be missing both legs of the Champions League tie. Though, all did not end well, as the visitors gave the host a football lesson and showed that they are levels ahead of the Red Devils.

Despite the questionable refereeing and the fact that the side lost Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard by the half-time break, Thomas Tuchel had his side setup in the most perfect way whist Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is now showing that he is beginning to lack a Plan B. With how the first leg had come to an end, United’s chances of qualifying for the next round are very slim as PSG take two away goals and a win back to France.

Here are three valuable lessons that can be taken from the Champions League defeat…

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to desperately find a Plan B

For sure, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is enjoying the dream of managing Manchester United and has got the fans of Old Trafford bouncing again. However, he needs to come up with a backup idea or a different system for when things don’t go according to plan, especially with how Tuchel made some clever choices with his starting line-up and made sure to make tactical tweaks during the game.

It’s more or less obvious that the injuries to Lingard and Martial badly affected to how the side normally attempt to break on the counter through pure pace and movement, which led the full-backs and the midfielders to then take part in a more direct approach. Given the injury issues and the lack of midfield options, it may be ideal for Solskjaer to consider using the back-three/five setup, to restore balance from defence to attack.

In regards to a back-three/five formation, it would allow both Luke Shaw and Diogo Dalot to push high up the pitch as the wing-backs whilst Paul Pogba potentially playing in an attacking role with freedom will do the side real good. As long as United’s main players in Ander Herrera, Marcus Rashford and Victor Lindelof are in high confidence and spirits, they should be able to play effectively and smartly within this style.

The midfield battle is where the match was won and lost

Without a doubt, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos stole the headlines at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, as the midfield duo controlled and dictated the game like it was a walk in the park. From keeping it simple with the short passes and the through balls into the wide players, to silencing each attack United could offer, they truly gave Gianluigi Buffon and Thiago Silva a quiet night at the back.

Meanwhile, for the hosts, it had seemed like only Pogba was attempting to guide the midfield and attack whilst the rest were waiting in the opposition’s half for something to happen. Herrera and Nemanja Matic provided assistance defensively and were able to support the backline when required, though, they struggled a lot when it came down to helping them push forward and to create constant chances.

The midfield department is an area that the hierarchy should look to aggressively strengthen, especially when the only options are Andreas Pereira, Fred and the young Scott McTominay from the bench. If one of the current midfield trio were to be injured or suspended for a number of games, then it can easily be stated that the backup choices would not be able to come up with the needed displays without any issues.

United’s board need to have a good look at the strength and quality between both squads

Majority of football supporters would have thought that the absence of Cavani and Neymar would make the fixture more balanced and would make the hosts the favourites, on the other hand, the visitors still had the likes of Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and surprisingly Dani Alves utilised as the front three. Straightaway, one can gain the understanding that PSG’s squad depth is no joke at all.

Though, when United’s two main attackers were forced off a half-time, Solskjaer could only bring on Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata, two players that are clearly past their best and are not able to take the side’s attack to the next level. On top of that, PSG’s quality in the starting line-up was incredibly outstanding, leaving Tuchel with no reasons for them to complete their third and final substitution.

Overall, PSG have the perfect squad to allow them to convincingly challenge in every competition they take place in, whilst United’s current team is just about enough to challenge for the top four spots as well as the Carabao Cup or FA Cup. If the board want to improve instantly, they will need to bring in a director of football, someone who can help when it comes to recruiting and scouting.