Nantes owner Waldemar Kita determined to make a big splash despite problems off the field

Nantes have been a staple team in Ligue 1 for many years and apart from the odd speedbump with relegation to Ligue 2, Nantes are a respected team who always try and aim for a European spot.

This season has seen the club perform their best consistently in a few seasons and by the half way point they are in 4th place and heading for a Europa League finish. Indeed they are just four points behind Rennes in 3rd and that position would lead to playing in the Champions League qualifiers. It has been over 20 years now since Nantes last appeared in the elite competition.

Nantes want back in the big time, that much is clear and they may just succeed under club owner Waldemar Kita. The Polish multi millionaire bought the club in 2007 and seven years later France Football named him as the best executive in French football. But it hasn’t always been an easy ride for Kita.

Last year he was accused of fraud and some reports suggested that he tried to push Emiliano Sala out of the club when the player tragically died in a plane crash on his way to his new club Cardiff. It has got to the point where banners have gone up by fans wanting Kita out of the club and in the summer he rejected a 60m euro deal to sell the club. That would have meant a 50m profit for Kita, but sources suggest that if he does sell he would hold out for 100m euros.

So Kita has had his troubles, but he also has a vision. One that was rejected by Nantes council last year. His major plan was to build a new stadium where Nantes play. The project had been dubbed Yello Park and would have seen at least 200m euros pumped into the project or the same amount that PSG paid Barcelona for Neymar.

A few months back Kita said in a press statement: “The future stadium is important to football fans in Nantes. Beyond our personal commitments for this project, this stage will be, for the decades to come and for the benefit of several generations, in the continuity of more than half a century of Nantes’ love for football. Nantes and its supporters deserve this ambition and this vision of the future.”

Kita may have his detractors, being the city of Nantes and some fans, but he does have a vision for the club and future projects, and that seems like a positive step. But how bad do Nantes want this change? New stadiums don’t mean success just extra revenue, which in a perfect circle can lead to success.

The future is unwritten at Nantes but there is a scent of hope that the club can return back to their glory days.

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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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PSG march on in Ligue 1 and it’s all change at Monaco

The Ligue 1 season has reached the half way point and it is no surprise to see that PSG are in 1st place. They have 45 points and have indeed not even reached their own personal half way stage as they have a game in hand. Continue this type of form and the club could finish the season with 96 points.

Ever since Neymar came back from injury at the beginning of December PSG have really stepped it up and before the Christmas break the club were playing their best most confident football of the campaign so far.

They have scored 11 goals in their last 3 matches and along with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe is finding his shooting boots. Mbappe has 11 goals and 4 assists so far.He is in 2nd place in the Ligue 1 fantasy rankings.

PSG currently have a 7 point lead over Marseille and in effect that could be 10 points with their game in hand to play. As for Marseille they have been solid and none of their ‘circus’ football and unpredictability which has dogged the side over the past few seasons has been seen. The club have no losses in their last five games picking up 13 points in the process and their last match ended in a 3-1 win over Nimes.

It’s possible that Marseille have one eye on the title though PSG would really need to collapse but the club are thinking 100% about 2nd place which would give them a Champions League place for next season. Lille at the moment are the real threat to that and they have been impressive given the personnel they have lost last season.

Lille are 5 points behind and indeed lost 5-1 away to Monaco in their last game but they have won 9 games this season and remain a threat. Rennes have also been a major surprise in 3rd place with M’Baye Niang sticking in the goals for the club, he currently has 8 goals so far this campaign.and Rennes are one of the best teams in the league for pure form having won their last five games. From 2nd to 4th it really does look exciting in the league.

Nantes and Reims have blown hot and cold this season and if only they could have a little more consistency they could be challenging Marseille for 2nd place but they have fallen 9 points and 10 points respectively behind. Both sides and especially Reims have shown mean defences in the first part of the season.

Monaco have been brilliant and look almost back to their best. They are unbeaten in 4 games won their last match 5-1 against Lille, also knocked Reims out of the French Cup and are in 7th place. But that was enough for Leonardo Jardim who was sacked for the 2nd time in 12 months. The new coach has been named as Roberto Moreno who managed the Spanish national side for some time. Oh and Monaco have the leading scorer in the league in their ranks in Wissam Ben Yedder who has scored 13 goals, he has turned out to be a superb buy.

It’s incredible to think that from 8th to 13th only two points separates the teams and it is Angers who are clinging on to that 8th position. A derby win against Nantes 2-1 last time out propped them up the table.

So Ligue 1 is really fighting on all fronts and for once PSG are not completely clear in the distance. Can Marseille catch them and can Marseille hang on to 2nd place? Watch this space as the 2nd half of the campaign gets under way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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