Tag Archives: Laurent Blanc

Ligue 1 Starting To Take Old Form

Luch Gonzalez (pictured on the right) and Marseille claimed Ligue 1's title last year, ending Lyon'r reign at the top of France's top-division. This year Gonzalez and his teammates haven't been in top form thus far, but things seem to be turning around. (Courtesy Yann Caradec)

By Ryan Fleming

Things haven’t started off in Ligue 1 like anyone anticipated. The French giants, Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux, were nowhere to be found at the top of the league table. Smaller, less notable teams, such as Stade Rennes, Brest and Lille were the teams worth talking about – they still are. But, as the weeks go by, the so-called heavy hitters in France are creeping their way back to their rightful place.

Les Gones fought for a 1-0 win past Nice thanks to Jérémy Pied’s first goal of the season. Despite the missed penalty by Brazilian Michel Bastos shortly after his team took the lead, Lyon proved that, though scoring seems to be at a premium, it is willing to go through a war of attrition for 90-plus minutes and battle for points.

Its hottest signing Yoann Gourcuff has seemed to calm down and get over his horrid performance at the World Cup just in time for Les Gones to take full advantage. Lyon haven’t lost a league game since Sept. 25, a 1-0 against St. Etienne, and have broken the top half of the table for the first time all season.

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Marseille Leading the Way to the Top of Ligue 1

Marseille's home form this season has put the reignning Ligue 1 champions just one point behind leaders Stade Rennes. Courtesy fredGLLS

By Ryan Fleming

Parity in certain leagues, at least so far, is becoming more apparent. In the Bundesliga, German giants Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen are struggling while Mainz and Borussia Dortmund sit at the top of the table.

In Ligue 1, much is the same … for now. St. Etienne is only one point off the leader, Stade Rennes, while Lyon finds itself in the bottom half of the table. Last year’s Ligue 1 champs, Olympique Marseille, find itself back on the path to success; on itself way to finding their rightful place at the top of their table.

Starting off the season with two-straight losses to a little know club, Caen at the Stade Velodrome and away at Valenciennes, immediately signaled the start of perhaps the falling of the typical French giants.

Bordeaux and Lyon have started off the new season in a similar, inconsistent and underachieving fashion – both finding themselves at the bottom of the table early on. Bordeaux, losing their star forward, Marouane Chamakh, midfield star, Yoann Gourcuff and its manager Laurent Blanc to manage the French national team, has its obvious reasons for struggling.

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France feeling Bleu

By Ryan Fleming

Nothing is right in the French world. Even the motivational Les Marseillaise, the French national anthem, whose words were handed to each player before the match, couldn’t inspire Les Bleus ahead of Friday night’s Euro 2012 qualifier. At France’s helm stands a confused and certainly frustrated Laurent Blanc, a manager that left a once-promising club, Bordeaux, with feelings of doubt after ending the ‘09/’10 campaign with a 2-5-2 record; failing to qualify for European play this season.

France international coach, Laurent Blanc, hasn't had much reason to smile. (Courtesy cvrcak1)

Les Bleus forgot what it feels like to win and their supporters, whose passions lie undoubtedly with their national team than any domestic club, are surely fed up after France’s 1-0 defeat to Belarus Friday night. After being embarrassed in the World Cup and equally humiliating the nation that they represent, Blanc has more pressure on him now than perhaps at anytime in his past.

“The hardest thing is football is scoring. We could not do it,” Blanc told Sky Sports. “The current situation is difficult, we have to fight on.”

The suspensions handed out after the almost-literal coup d’etat that occurred internally within the team during the World Cup this summer, has directly caused the team to suffer. With the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Patrice Evra, Jeremy Toulalan and Franck Ribery out due to suspension, Blanc’s job is that much harder. Anelka’s situation, though, is a bit different.

The forward was suspended for 18 games after not showing up to a hearing in front of the French Football Federation, effectively ending his international career. A ban that Anelka laughed at.

“This whole thing is a nonsense, to turn the page because [new coach] Laurent Blanc needs to be able to work in peace,” Anelka told France Soir. “These people are clowns. I’m dying with laughter,” he added.

Anelka’s suspension is the lengthiest – 13 games more than Evra’s five-game suspension.

Despite the avalanche of trouble, there are signs of hope ahead for Les Bleus in their upcoming game against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Karim Benzema, one of France’s most lethal strikers, who was mysteriously left out of its World Cup squad, will be fit for Tuesday night’s clash. But for Blanc, he’ll need more than a striker and a national anthem to rouse his troops. The question is, when will he find it?

Ryan Fleming is a contributing writer and editor for The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at Ryan.Fleming@thesoccerguysonline.com.

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France ready after miserable summer

Marseille striker Loic Remy is one of several younger players France has turned to after its disgraceful showing at the World Cup. (Photo Courtesy Fabio Dekker)

By Michael King

At the international level, 18 games is an eternity. With friendlies scattered sparingly throughout the soccer season and major tournaments only once every few years, opportunities for international success can be elusive.

And for the French Football Federation, that’s exactly the point.

The organization suspended maligned striker Nicolas Anelka, 31, for precisely that length Tuesday afternoon, effectively ending his international career.

The FFF also suspended former captain Patrice Evra for five games and handed down lesser bans to Franck Ribery and Jeremy Toulalan for their roles in the team’s off-the-field antics during June’s World Cup. Continue reading

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French Need a Revolution

Courtesy Wikicommons Safia Otokoré

By Joe Meloni

It’s odd, at the moment, to think Raymond Domenech was a Zinedine Zidane temper tantrum away from perhaps leading France to a World Cup championship four years ago.

Since the latest installment of the World Cup began 10 days ago, absolutely nothing has gone right for France, and it’s easy to pin the lame-duck Domenech as the guilty party. Piecing together a list of his poor decisions in France’s games thus far isn’t as difficult as, say, finding any good choices he made. Not selecting Karim Benzema or Samir Nasri for a team in desperate need of creativity with the ball or choosing not to play Thierry Henry or Yoann Gourcuff in a game his team would lose, 2-0, stand as some of the most obvious complaints supporters of Les Bleus have of the flighty manager.

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Mixing and Matching: From Celtic to Bordeaux to Sunderland

By Ryan Fleming

It wasn’t easy, nothing really has been for Celtic during this season. Sunday morning the Glasgow side defeated Dunfermline, 4-2, in the Scottish Cup. New signings, Diomansy Kamara, Robbie Keane and Morten Rasmussen tallied goals and an own goal by Calum Woods lead the Hoops to victory and increasing ,perhaps boosting, their confidence coming into tomorrow’s matchup at Parkhead against Hearts.

Throughout the week the players and coaches alike continued to state that the confidence they once had after the Winter transfer window signings is still there even despite the team’s loss at Kilmarnock back on February second. If you watched Robbie Keane’s long celebration after scoring from the penalty spot late in the match on Sunday, his confidence never left. It must have been a huge lift off the Irish international’s shoulders – getting his first strike on his new team out of the way.

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