Top Ligue 1 Midfielders in 2018/19: Remi Oudin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ligue 1 Player of the Weekend: Florian Thauvin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ligue 1 Player of the Weekend: Robert Beric

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Only one player in Ligue 1 was able to earn 8 points this weekend and he did it in style and Ligue 1 player of the weekend goes to Saint Etienne’s Robert Beric.

Beric was on hand last weekend to score both of Saint Etienne’s goals as they beat Toulouse 2-0. He was the difference between the two teams and he has been on great form in the past few months.

When we consider that Beric has only started 9 games this season then his statistics are fantastic for the club. He has scored 10 goals and assisted another 7 times and has become known as the super sub for a club who are chasing a Champions League place.

Beric’s form has meant that Saint Etienne have 59 points and are just 3 points behind Lyon for 3rd place.

At the weekend Beric opened the scoring after just 2 minutes when he was teed up by Pierre-Yves Polomat to give the club the best possible start. After that there was only one team in the game and then Beric added a 2nd goal on the 10th minute after a great assist by the inform Whabi Khazri. The only disappointment for the club and for Beric is that with the majority of the game still to play they didn’t add more goals and Beric was not able to get his hat-trick.

Jean Louis Gasset the Saint Etienne coach said of the game at the weekend, “We started really well. We needed to get the ball wide, put the pressure on and try to score a goal or two – and that’s what we did. After that it was more difficult as Toulouse changed their system and put more impact into midfield. We defended well. We’re on a run of five wins and a draw and in the last three games we have not conceded a goal. Even if there was a penalty, we have an extraordinary goalkeeper and (Stephane) Ruffier was great today.”

In the Ligue 1 Fantasy football rankings Beric is in 18th place considering just the strikers. He hasn’t played many games and started just 9, so that is why he has just 30 points. But his stats are fantastic as mentioned above and when we combine his goals and assists tally he ends up with a final figure of 17.

Beric is worth 7m if you want to add him to your team which could be a good idea given that Saint Etienne are arguably in their best form of the season as they try and put the pressure on Lyon and nab that 3rd place.

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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.

Circus at Monaco continues as Jardim is back after Henry sacking

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105 days after being sacked from Monaco, Leonardo Jardim is back as coach after Thierry Henry was suspended and then sacked as head coach after a dismal three months in charge.

Nobody expected that Monaco would go back to Jardim though, and perhaps nobody believed that Jardim would be willing to go back after being unjustly sacked the first time but that is what has happened.

It has been a circus season for Monaco, the 2017 champions who are 19th in the league table, the result not down to coaches but down to constantly selling their best players, and that is why it is a surprise that Jardim is back. Let’s remember whilst Jardim is ten times the coach of Henry he was still struggling with the club this season.

Perhaps Jardim has been promised that his best players will stay and that the tactic of selling half the team come each summer will stop. Evidently it hasn’t got the club anywhere and they may well still end up in Ligue 2. Perhaps the players were informed too and they voted to have Jardim back, if this is the case then we should expect to see an upturn in the clubs fortunes. One wonders what new signing and established international Cesc Fabregas thinks of it all- has he jumped ship from the Premier League too soon?

And what of Henry? Where does he go from here? One remembers Gary Neville’s poor stint at Valencia which seemingly finished him as a coach and it could be that Henry returns to punditry. Having said that he seems like a determined person and the Monaco job could have been a case of taking such a project too soon in his career. Henry won just 4 games from the 20 he was in charge of.

For Jardim the work must start immediately. His side lost at the weekend to Dijon 2-0 however he wasn’t in the dug out and his first game back will be the home match against Toulouse next Saturday.

The month of February looks like a tough one for Monaco with tricky fixtures against the likes of Montpellier and Lyon, so this will be no easy ride for Jardim. However despite how poor the club have been this season they are still only 3 points from safety and if the club were to get a winning run together they could still finish in midtable.

Jardim’s job is simple and that is to keep the club up, one senses, he will do just that.

Can PSG go the whole season in Ligue 1 unbeaten?

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More or less PSG have been absolutely dominant in the French Ligue 1 since 2012 and their massive takeover which has seen the club win 6 out of the last 7 titles in France. Millions have been spent on some of the greatest players to have graced the game in recent years. The likes of Zlatan Ibramhimovic, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and a new starlet in Kylian Mbappe have passed through their doors.

However it is this season that just feels different under new coach Thomas Tuchel. The reason is evident when you glance at the league tables. Yes it is no surprise to see PSG in 1st position, but they have played 14 games so far and won 14. It’s like a PlayStation game that went very wrong in a kind of excellent way. 42 points means that their nearest challengers Lyon are 15 points behind and the league in effect looks over before December.

We should also be reminded that their nearest rival Lyon were soundly beaten 5-0 last month by the Parisians. They are just that good that no team in France seems to be able to touch them. And yet of course in previous seasons it felt the same way until they would lose a surprise game away from home. This past weekend that almost happened. Not so much that the team would lose but even drop their 100% win rate. The team was Toulouse and with an important Champions League game coming up against Liverpool, both Mbappe and Neymar did not play and PSG edged to a 1-0 nervous victory.

PSG certainly have it within them to not only go unbeaten the whole season but to win every game, it would be a massive achievement even if some critics would point and suggest that the French league is not strong. Well tell that to Premier League champions Manchester City who in 2 games against Lyon both home and away failed to beat the team and conceded 4 goals along the way.

Ligue 1 is not the strongest league in Europe of course but it is far from weak, all it is missing is some wealthy owners to give PSG a run for their money (pardon the pun).

PSG’s real tests will come as the season progresses. How will they react if they are knocked out of a cup competition, especially the Champions League? The league is theirs that is basically assured now, but it is a question of how long they can continue their dominance this season which is most fascinating. Europe will be looking on in anticipation that is for sure.

Manu Garcia can help Toulouse surpass expectations this season

manugarciaThe loan system really is a wonderful thing. It can be utilised by smaller clubs who wish to bring in a potential star of the future to strengthen any leaks in their side, or bigger clubs can – on occasion – bring a player in who may otherwise be out of their reach on a temporary basis, treating fans to the spectacle of seeing such a big name wearing their own beloved shirt. It can help financially struggling sides add some depth, and also helps larger clubs get some experience for their younger talent before bleeding them gradually into their own first team. When used efficiently, the loan system quite literally offers a win-win for every single party involved. That certainly seems to be the case for Toulouse this season, who have loaned Man City starlet Manu Garcia for the 2018-19 campaign.

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Ligue 1 Player of the Week – Martin Braithwaite (Bordeaux)

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With the penultimate weekend of the 2017-18 French Ligue 1 season now done and dusted, all that remains is one match in which to make or break your season. For Marseille, for example, their home clash against Amiens could spell the difference between a place in the early stages of next season’s Champions League, or the Europa League. Lyon and even Monaco face very similar challenges. At the other end of the table, with Metz and Troyes already relegated Toulouse will want to halt their recent slump in the visit of Guingamp if they are to avoid joining those two in Ligue 2 next term. Metz, in fact, play host to Bordeaux on the final day of the season – and it is these visitors that this week’s Ligue 1 Player of the Week represents.

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Arsenal’s rejects shining in Ligue 1

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Time and time again, we have witnessed transfer moves resurrecting careers of football players.

Something similar is happening with a couple of former Arsenal players playing in Ligue 1 this season. The two players we are talking about here are Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Debuchy.
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Exploits of Yaya Sanogo earn him Ligue 1 Player of the Week

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This week’s Ligue 1 player of the week accolade goes to Toulouse centre forward Yaya Sanogo, whose brace of the weekend indicated that he could be on the brink of getting past his turbulent spell on the books at Arsenal.

The award is well-deserved, with the striker playing a critical role in his side’s break-neck 2-2 draw at Stadium Municipal, his exploits taking the home side to within a hair’s breadth of what would have been a vital three points.

With Toulouse looking appearing to have succumbed to defeat, Sanogo arrived in the box at the opportune moment to bring the match square in the 89th minute as he latched onto a Sylla cross – his headed corner nestling in the back off the net off the inside of Continue reading