Yaya Sanogo: The Young Gun With A Bright Future

July 5, 2013 in Ligue 1

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After meandering his way through five amateur clubs surrounding the Paris region throughout his formative years as a teenager (from 2000-2006), Arsenal’s latest recruit, 20-year-old Yaya Sanogo was recruited by the then Ligue 1 outfit AJ Auxerre in 2006 aged just 13.  His career at Auxerre started in “post-formation” (a kind of “finishing school” for professional outfits for polishing up “rough diamonds” acquired from amateur football,) and after doing his apprenticeship in the academy and reserve set-ups, at the tender age of 16, he got called up to first team duties in the 2010-2011 season for the first time making two appearances, one in the league, one in the League Cup.  His promising season, though, was cut tragically short, just as it seemed that he had finally made the breakthrough into the professional ranks.  In a run-of-the-mill reserve team outing at Mulhouse in the French regionalised fourth tier – CFA (Championnat de Football Amateur) – he suffered a horrendous injury, suffering a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in a collision with an opponent, resulting in an enforced break of seven months.  A year later, in October 2011, having been in the first team for a mere three months, he had already racked up six appearances (of which three starts) and his first goal in professional football (against Toulouse).

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Monaco try to become French footballing royalty once more, but at what cost?

May 17, 2013 in Ligue 1

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One of France’s clubs with European pedigree (previously finalists in the Champions League and Cup Winners Cup) is returning to the nation’s top footballing table after an absence of two years.  Monaco’s relegation from Ligue 1 in 2011 so nearly became successive relegations, but the arrival of Russian businessman Dmitry Ryboloviev halted the slide, and his financial input (109th in the 2012 Forbes Rich List with an estimated net worth of 9.1 Billion US Dollars) helped the team rediscover it’s form in Ligue 2 – appointing former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri as the man to put Monaco back in the top flight.  On the 11th May, that particular mission was accomplished with victory at Nimes.

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Saint-Etienne: The Green Army are back on the march

April 10, 2013 in Ligue 1

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Saint Etienne is a traditionally industrial town, much like Sheffield in England, and both cities have a footballing pedigree going back over the decades.  But the relative current situations of the Sheffield clubs bear no relation to the resurgent French club, who have experienced a considerable resurgence in fortunes in the past two seasons.  The “Peuple Vert” or “Green People” have endured a long spell in the doldrums, going without a trophy for over thirty years with no silverware to speak of since 1981, when they won the last of their ten league titles (still a French record).  The “Golden Era” in the 1960s and 1970s saw the First Division graced by such French footballing heros Dominique Rocheteau and current UEFA President Michel Platini, as well as Dutch international Johnny Rep.  The dramatic fall from grace began when financial difficulties were brought to light in 1982 and the club spent a number of years in the second division thereafter, even coming perilously close to dropping into the third tier in 1997-98 after surviving a winding-up order - over substantial debts - by the skin of their teeth.

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PSG boldly go where they’ve never been before with Valencia victory

March 7, 2013 in Europe, Ligue 1

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Last night, Paris Saint-Germain advanced to the quarter finals of the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history after overcoming their Spanish opponents Valencia 3-2 on aggregate in the last sixteenHaving done the hard part by beating Valencia in their own backyard thanks to a brace by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlo Ancelotti’s Parisians put themselves in a strong position going into the second leg at the Parc des Princes.  Two away goals for  PSG at the Mestalla meant that Valencia were obliged to score twice in the second leg, and Paris – despite being shorn of the services of the suspended Ibrahimovic, who received a two-match ban for his red card in Spain – remained solid throughout to see out the tie, and their qualification was assured by Argentine Ezequiel Lavezzi’s second-half equaliser after Jonas’ quality strike from 25 yards had given the visitors a real chance of turning things round.  Valencia dominated possession throughout, and created more of the few chances which were created over the ninety minutes, but - Jonas’ goal aside – the visitors rarely troubled their Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

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