France’s World Cup win and the lack of understanding French football.

TELEMMGLPICT000168948016-xlarge_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqpVlberWd9EgFPZtcLiMQfyf2A9a6I9YchsjMeADBa08It has been five years since I have written an article on this blog (something that I will address in a different post). However, with France’s victory in the World Cup, I think it might be time to start the discussion about French soccer yet again. I am not starting this blog because France was victorious…I was going to start this blog again regardless. But with France’s victory, there has been a lot of talk about the “lack of performance” by the French National Team, and that they were “lucky” to win the World Cup.

This is the reason why I have decided to return to blogging a few months earlier than anticipated.

Over the course of the last month, I have heard a number of soccer pundits, even those who are highly respected, constantly talk about how poorly France has played in this World Cup. Questions started to arise about whether Didier Deschamps was the right coach for the team (a criticism that was just as strong in France as it was abroad). Like every World Cup, the criticism unleashed on the French National Team was somewhat brutal. But as the competition started, and France started winning, the criticism of France’s play and Deschamps’s ability to coach was silenced.

Well, in France at least. Continue reading


Power Rankings for Matchday 2

Because real life gets in the way, it might be harder for me to do a “Team of the Week”. I wanted to do it, but real work must come first. Still, I was able to do the Ligue 1 Talk Power Rankings for this week, and this is what I have. Hopefully by the end of the week, I might have the team, but don’t count on it.

Power Rankings.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 1 “Power Breakdown” Review.

Goal of the Week – Matchday 1

There were a number of great goals that were considered for the this award. Long-range goals from Toulouse’s Paulo Machado, Caen’s Gregory Proment and Auxerre’s Alain Traore were considered. But even with this stiff competition, Evian’s captain Olivier Sorlin’s volley off a deflected corner wins this weeks “Goal of the Week”.

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Ligue 1 Matchday 1 Predictions

Could Kevin Gameiro score a hat-trick against his old team?

Finally, time to make the first predictions of the year. True, I might not be as accurate as I was at picking PSG games last year, but I will try to do my best and keep a running total to see how well, or crappy, I do. So here we go.

Ajaccio vs. Toulouse – Even with a few knocks to the team, Toulouse should be the better side today. Yes, traveling to Corsica might be something new, but I’m sure Toulouse can cope with the beautiful landscape. Still, a lot of time when teams are promoted from one league to another, they seem to play better ball in their first few matches. Look at Caen last year. But as far as this match, Toulouse has the players to control the tempo. Moussa Sissoko had a quiet season last year, let’s see if he can start this season on fire. Of course, Toulouse will miss the services of Daniel Braaten, Etienne Didot, Etienne Capoue and new arrival Emmanuel Riviere, but should be able to cope with the line up they have no. Imagine when all of them are healthy. Prediction: Toulouse 1-0.
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Kevin Gameiro to PSG: Why it’s so Important for Ligue 1

At 2:30 PM (CET) on June 12th, 2011, the official website of Paris Saint-Germain FC announced that Kevin Gameiro had signed a four year deal. Outside sources claim that the fee was 11 million euros with additional incentives possibly worth 15 million. This marked the end of the transfer saga of one of Ligue 1’s brightest stars, having lodged 56 goals and 19 assists in his last three seasons and scoring/creating a goal every 133 minutes this season. Gameiro had been heavily sought after by several clubs, including Valencia, Newcastle, Villareal, and Sevilla in addition to PSG. The diminutive striker had nearly transferred to Valencia in January, agreeing to terms with the club, before Lorient noticed that Valencia hadn’t actually made an offer…oops! Gameiro stayed the second half of the season and came in second in the Ligue 1 scoring charts for the second year running.

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Dave’s Rant: Thoughts on European Football/Soccer.

I was introduced to soccer in a different way compared to many who read this site. Like a typical American, I was never raised watching the game, and watched my American sports instead (which I still do). My first introduction to soccer was by Playstation, when I purchased FIFA Soccer 97. After that, I didn’t watch my first live games until the 1998 World Cup. Yes, I might have never seen a soccer match, but I knew the players well just by the fact that I played them on Playstation numerous amount of times.

Therefore, my first ever soccer game that I ever watched was US vs. Germany in the 1998 World Cup with my good friend Kartik Krishnaiyer. Yes, that wasn’t exactly the best match for me to watch. And yes, what made it even worse was the fact that Steve Sampson was an idiot using a 3-6-1 formation. But still, I saw both teams play with heart. Unfortunately for the US, we saw Yugoslavia and Iran play with the same heart. I, of course, watched the final in which France defeated Brazil. And with my trip to Paris less than two weeks later, I was both hooked on soccer and French football. Also, due to my extensive hours of playing Playstation, I became a supporter of Paris St. Germain (the reason I am not now is a different story).

Being an American, we are used to not having the same teams win every single season. If a team dominates for a while (like San Francisco and Dallas in American football in the 80s and 90s), other teams still have a chance to knock them off. But even when dynasties are created, like the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, they eventually fall and become the Oilers of 2011, the worse team in the NHL. Therefore, there is diversity when it comes to watching sports in the United States. Even the mighty New York Yankees in the salary capless MLB get scares in their own division from Tampa Bay and the Boston Red Sox.

This was the reason that I only followed the EPL closely for two years. It only took a tiny bit of observing to realize that the same teams win over and over again. And unless you get a lucky break, like your team being bought out by a billionaire like Manchester City, you have no chance of ever celebrating anything, or even have the thought of celebrating anything, if you aren’t one of the big boys. That is what makes American sports so great, as even the Tampa Bay Lightning can claim a Stanley Cup.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 37 Preview – Can Lille clinch it?

Only two more match weeks left in the season, and we still don’t have a clear idea regarding what teams will be where in two weeks time. As we mentioned on our “what if” article, even Lille aren’t technically assured the Ligue 1 championship just yet.

In one way or another, almost all of tomorrow’s match ups will affect either relegation or qualifying for European competitione, with the exception of Arles vs. Lens. Therefore, what matches should you watch and why?

Unlike other previews that we do, we aren’t going to look at the technical aspects of the game. Instead, we are going to take more of a look at their standing positions, and what they need to do to accomplish whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.

The most important match of the day doesn’t involve Lille, Marseille, PSG or Lyon. Instead, it will be the game between Sochaux and St. Etienne. Even with a poor performance against Lille on the road in the midweek, Sochaux look to get back on track and move closer to securing an Europa League spot.

Both teams will be suffering from injuries. For Sochaux, they continue to be without Jacques Faty (who has more than likely played his last match for Sochaux) as well as Édouard Butin. But for St. Etienne, the situation will be worse. Emmanuel Riviere will miss the rest of the season. Jeremie Janot will also not be available for the team. In addition, Albin Ebondo and Sylvain Monsoreau are uncertain. Therefore, they will have an uphill climb in this match in order to win.
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