Archive for the ‘ Ligue1 ’ Category

Barcelona vs Paris Saint Germain 2nd Leg UCL Preview: Vilanova’s side counting on Camp Nou boost

Villa and Messi


Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is racing to recover from a hamstring strain in time for the crunch encounter against Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou.

Cesc Fabregas is likely to be preferred in attack if Messi fails to return, while Pedro is also in contention for a starting berth after recovering from a calf injury.

Blaugrana boss Tito Vilanova may deploy either Sergio Busquets or Alex Song in central defence in place of the inexperienced Marc Bartra to counter the attacking threat of the visitors.

PSG captain Thiago Silva is expected to play despite missing the weekend win at Rennes with a bruised knee.

Thiago Motta (groin) and Alex (thigh) should also be fit, but Blaise Matuidi is suspended after picking up his third booking of the competition in the first leg.

  • Barcelona are on a 20-match unbeaten run at Camp Nou in the Champions League, winning 16, since a 2-1 defeat against Rubin Kazan in October 2009.
  • The Blaugrana‘s overall home record against French opposition is W5, D1, L1, with their most recent encounter against a Ligue 1 club ending in a 5-2 second-leg victory over Olympique Lyonnais in the 2008-09 Champions League round of 16.
  • Barcelona have gone on to win 18 of 23 European ties in which they have drawn the first leg away from home.
  • Paris Saint-Germain have won three of their four away matches in the Champions League this season.
  • The Ligue 1 leaders have never lost a two-legged European tie to Spanish opponents before. Their overall away record against clubs from Spain is W4, D1, L3.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic  is the only player to have scored for six different clubs in the Champions League: AC Milan, Ajax, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus and PSG.

Rennes vs Paris Saint Germain Ligue 1 Preview: Ancelotti’s side return to domestic action with Barcelona looming

Ibrahimovic complaining




T-Catherine, Kana-Biyik, Boye, Mavinga
Makoun, Diallo
Pitroipa, Feret, Pajot


Van der Wiel, Sakho, T. Silva, Maxwell
Menez, Chantome, Verratti, Pastore
Gameiro, Ibrahimovic

Stade Rennais coach Frederic Antonetti has no fresh injury concerns as he attempts to reverse his side’s alarming dip in form as they welcome Paris Saint-Germain to Stade de la Route de Lorient.

Since the departure of Yann M’Vila at the end of January and the season-ending injury to key player Romain Alessandrini, the hosts have not won a league game, dropping from fourth place to a lowly 10th.

Mevlut Erding is set to reclaim his place in the starting XI, which will be largely unchanged from last week’s 2-0 home loss to Nancy.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti is likely to rest a few players ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second-leg against Barcelona next Wednesday.

The likes of Gregory van der Wiel, Mamadou Sakho, Clement Chantome and Kevin Gameiro could all be used as les Parisiens aim for a first win at Rennes since 2002 ahead of their date with Tito Vilanova’s side.

  • Stade Rennes sit 10th in Ligue 1, 11 points adrift of third-placed Olympique Lyonnais, after failing to win any of their last six league games.
  • Les Rouges et Noirs have not lost to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 at home in 11 years.
  • Frederic Antonetti’s men have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last si encounters.
  • Paris Saint-Germain sit top of Ligue 1, seven points clear of Olympique de Marseille.
  • Rennes triumphed 2-1 in their fixture at the Parc des Princes back in November despite having two players sent off.
  • Carlo Ancelotti’s side have scored the most goals and conceded the least out of any side in the top division.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Barcelona UCL 1st Leg Preview: Ancelotti’s side ready for daunting Blaugrana challenge

PSG Team celebrating


Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Thiago Motta is unavailable to face Barcelona at Parc des Princes after suffering a groin injury in training.

Midfielder Lucas Moura and striker Ezequiel Lavezzi will be recalled to the side after being rested for Friday’s win over Montpellier, while Marco Verratti and Zlatan Ibrahimovic return from European bans.

Italy international Verratti is expected to get the nod alongside Blaise Matuidi in central midfield ahead of Clement Chantome and David Beckham.

Barcelona duo Xavi and Jordi Alba have shaken off thigh injuries that forced them to miss the 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo.

Javier Mascherano, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and David Villa were all rested on the bench for that game and could return to the starting line-up.

Defenders Carles Puyol (knee) and Adriano (hamstring) and striker Pedro (suspension) are sidelined, but goalkeeper Victor Valdes returns from a domestic ban.

  • Paris Saint-Germain are on a 23-match unbeaten home run in European competition stretching back to a 4-2 defeat against Hapoel Tel-Aviv in the Uefa Cup group stage in November 2006.
  • Les Parisiens are looking to reach their second Champions League semi-final. Their only previous quarter-final appearance was also against Barcelona in 1994-95, and it ended in a 3-2 aggregate victory.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic  made 29 Liga appearances for Barcelona in the 2009-10 season, scoring 16 goals.
  • Barcelona have only won two of their last eight away matches in all competitions (W2, D3, L3).
  • The Catalan giants have won their last six Champions League quarter-finals and their last defeat at this stage came against Juventus in 2002-03.
  • Barcelona’s overall away record against French opposition is W3, D2, L2. Their most recent visit to France resulted in a 1-1 draw against Olympique Lyonnais in the 2008-09 Champions League round of 16.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Montpellier Ligue 1 Preview: Ancelotti’s men aim to consolidate top spot ahead of Barcelona visit





Van der Wiel, Alex, Thiago Silva, Maxwell
Lucas Moura, Matuidi, Verratti, Pastore
Lavezzi, Ibrahimovic


Congre, Hilton, El Kaoutari, Bedimo
Camara, Belhanda, Utaka

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has insisted his side’s focus remains on Montpellier for now, despite the prospect of a Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona on the horizon.

Nevertheless, the Italian trainer is likely to field his strongest possible side, as they aim to pull further clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table as we enter the final phase of the season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was cleared to play in Tuesday’s game by Uefa, and he’ll also start against the champions on Friday evening, with Lucas Moura set to recover from the ankle problem he suffered three weeks ago against Nancy.

David Beckham is unlikely to feature having just returned from an ambassadorial trip to China, with Marco Verratti set to hold off Clement Chantome for a starting berth.

Outgoing Montpellier coach Rene Girard has no fresh injury worries, though his side appears considerably weaker when compared to the 1-1 draw the champions managed against PSG in November. Abdelhamid El Kaoutari’s run in defence continues, as Daniel Congre maintains his position in an unfamiliar right-back role.

  • Paris Saint-Germain‘s hopes of securing a first Ligue 1 title since 1994 look good, as they sit seven points clear of challengers Lyon, with just 24 left on offer.
  • Les Parisiens have won just two of their last 11 games against Montpellier at the Parc des Princes.
  • Nevertheless, PSG have found the net in each of the last 11 games against the champions.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been involved in more than half of his side’s goals in Ligue 1 – with 25 goals and 5 assists (30 out of 53).
  • Montpellier sit seventh in Ligue 1 after a fantastic recent run of form catapulted them to within six points of third-place Marseille. They have not won their last two games, however.
  • The champions have scored in all but one of their last 14 away fixtures in Ligue 1 this season.
  • Montpellier’s last five league games at the Parc des Princes have seen an average of 4.6 goals a game.

France vs Spain World Cup Qualifying Preview: European powerhouses set for Paris showdown






Jallet, Varane, Sakho, Evra
Pogba, Matuidi, Cabaye
Valbuena, Giroud, Ribery


Arbeloa, Pique, Ramos, Monreal
Xavi, Busquets, Alonso
Pedro, Fabregas, Iniesta

France have no fresh injury worries ahead of Tuesday’s vital World Cup qualifier against Spain at Stade de France.

Coach Didier Deschamps is set to revert to a 4-3-3 formation, with Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud expected to spearhead the attack ahead of the out-of-form Karim Benzema.

Patrice Evra and Yohan Cabaye are likely to return to the starting line-up after being unused substitutes in the 3-1 win over Georgia, while youngsters Raphael Varane and Paul Pogba may keep their place in the side after solid debuts.

Defender Jordi Alba is unavailable for Spain after picking up a thigh injury in the 1-1 draw against Finland.

David Silva also misses out through suspension, but fellow playmaker Xavi, who missed the game in Gijon with a hamstring problem, was able to train with the squad on Saturday and is expected to start.

  • France are on a 13-match unbeaten run in World Cup and European Championship qualifiers (W9, D4).
  • Les Bleus have won just one of their last six encounters against Spain, losing four.
  • Mathieu Valbuena has scored three goals in his last three appearances for France.
  • Spain are on a 19-match unbeaten run (W14, D5) stretching back to November 2011.
  • The Iberian outfit have won their last four away matches, including friendlies.
  • Vicente del Bosque overtook Ladislao Kubala’s record for overseeing the most number of games as Spain boss in Friday’s qualifier against Finland. The 62-year-old has taken charge of 69 internationals, winning 57.

France vs Georgia Preview: Deschamps’ men aim to warm up for Spain with win





Jallet, Koscielny, Sakho, Evra 
Valbuena, Matuidi, Cabaye, Ribery
Benzema, Giroud

Kashia, Amisulashvili, Khizanishvili
Okriashvili, Targamadze
Kankava, Daushvili, Grigalashvili
Ananidze, Devdariani

France coach Didier Deschamps is set to tinker with his side against Georgia on Friday evening, ahead of the potential group decider against world champions Spain in Paris next week.

The former Marseille boss hinted earlier in the week he may try a 4-4-2 formation, with Karim Benzema and Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud both starting against the Eastern European outfit.

With Mathieu Debuchy pulling out of the squad after limping off in Newcastle’s game against Wigan on Sunday, Deschamps has called upon a familiar face in the form of Rod Fanni. The Marseille defender could be in line for a start should Paris Saint-Germain’s Christophe Jallet fail to make the grade.

Young talents Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane are set to be benched, with Deschamps preferring the tried and tested duo of Laurent Koscielny and Mamadou Sakho in defence.

Georgia coach Temuri Ketsbaia is also without a few players due to injury. Defender Akaki Khubutia failed to join the side to train on Wednesday at Stade Charlety due to travel issues, while Zurab Khizanishvili and Jano Ananidze will be known faces to many European football aficionados.

  • France have won two out of their three World Cup qualifiers in the 2014 cycle, dropping points only to Spain.
  • Les Bleus lost their last fixture to Germany, in an international friendly in February.
  • The two nations have only met twice before, in qualification for Euro 2008. France won 1-0 in Paris, before a 3-0 win in Tbilisi .
  • Georgia sit in third place in Group I of World Cup qualifying. A win against France would take them level on points.
  • The Eastern European side’s win over Albania last month was their first in five games.
  • Georgia occupy 69th position in the world rankings, while Levan Kobiashvili heads the all-time Georgia caps tally with 100.

Why Ancelotti Is Looking Like the Next Real Madrid Manager

Carlo Ancelotti

“It’s quite simple really. He has a contract.”

The words of Real Madrid’s director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueño on Monday evening at the Marca awards ceremony in the Spanish capital. He was answering a question posed about Jose Mourinho and the Portuguese coach’s future—Butragueño was collecting an award on his behalf.

Things reached a pivotal moment in January when the front cover of Marca claimed Sergio Ramos had said to president Florentino Perez “in June it’s Mou or us.”

Perez called a press conference to deny the story, although Casillas’ partner Sara Carbonero—a journalist in Madrid—a few days later claimed it was common knowledge that there was a lack of harmony between the senior players and their boss .

Since then speculation over Mourinho’s future has ensued—it was present before this though, as the 50-year-old has never been one to stay in a job for a sustained period. Recent wins over Barcelona and Manchester United seem to have galvanized not only the squad, but Los Blancos’ season too, although it is still expected—providing he has an exit strategy—that Mourinho will move on.

Prior to Christmas, Joachim Low—the German national team manager—topped a poll of Madrid fans on who they would like to be their next manager. Jurgen Klopp was expected to be in the running too. Klopp now appears a no-go, the Borussia Dortmund boss said to be excited at the prospect of doing battle with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich while Low has fallen out of favor with fans and bookmakers, replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.

Little over a month ago Le Parisien  reported that the PSG manager has already agreed a deal to take over the top job at the Bernabeu this summer. Speaking to the newspaper a source lose to the Italian said “it’s a verbal deal that has been agreed with Real Madrid. Both parties have said that they want to work together next season.” The 53-year-old was quick to dismiss the rumor, when questioned on it he answered “it is not true.”

But of course he would, PSG are still fighting to win the French title and have drawn a plum draw against Barcelona in the Champions League. Meanwhile, further south in Spain, Madrid are still competing for cups domestically and in Europe.

Little has been said since this burst of speculation in late February, but there is an eeriness in the silence which has followed it.

Marca and AS are no longer running polls and stories as quickly as they once were on the future of Mourinho and his possible successors. This could mean that they’re content with him once more, or simply that out of respect to Perez they’re remaining tight-lipped with the Ancelotti deal done.

His contract at PSG expires at the end of this season and—although there’s an automatic one-year renewal if they finish in the top three—it’s far from preposterous to suggest that we could be seeing one of the highest-profile job swaps taking place this summer.