Tag Archives: Ligue 1

Chelsea vs Lille – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In an intriguing tie we’ll see the current holders Chelsea take on French league champions Lille in a tie that would be expected to go one way but could well go the other.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

Last season’s winner and the current World champions Chelsea had a pretty good group stage, but defeat on the final day to Juventus cost them the top spot.

Tuchel’s side claimed four wins and a draw from their first five games, including a memorable 4-0 win against the Serie A giants with an excellent record of just four goals conceded.

Lille on the other hand claimed top spot in arguably the weakest group of the first round, pipping RB Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg to the berth.

Jocelyn Gourvennec led his side to three wins and two draws including wins away to Sevilla and Wolfsburg to claim their path into the last 16, also conceding just four goals throughout the group stage.

In comparison though, Lille only managed seven goals across their six games while Chelsea scored more than double that with 13.

Team news

Chelsea are still struggling with some injury problems, with wing-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell not yet fit. Mason Mount won’t be fit for the first leg but Cesar Azpilicueta could return to the team after missing the weekend win over Crystal Palace.

Romelu Lukaku’s form is in the gutter, but Tuchel is likely to stick with the Belgian in the hope that he can play through it and find a goalscoring streak ahead of the weekend’s Carabao Cup final.

Lille are at almost full strength for the tie, with the only absentee expected to be former Manchester United attacking midfielder Angel Gomes.

The youngster was forced off injury in their latest Ligue 1 game and is now expected to miss the game, while Orestis Karnezis will miss the game.

All of Andre, Renato Sanches and Xeka are competing to start in midfield, with the former two likely to get the nod.

Breakdown and Prediction

Chelsea have moved away from their 343 formation since their wing-backs suffered with injuries, and Tuchel has since gone with a 433 formation to get back to winning ways.

They still look to keep the ball for the vast majority of the game and attack down the wings but without Mount they’ve lacked that attacking mind in midfield recently.

I expect Tuchel to move back to his 343 for this game if Azpilicueta and/or Callum Hudson-Odoi are fit again, playing as the right wing-back with Marcos Alonso reinstalled at left wing-back after his assist at the weekend.

Lille will try to soak up the pressure with their usual 442 system and try to counter with the pace of Jonathan David in attack.

Realistically they will struggle to make that effective, because it’s exactly what Chelsea are set up to play against. Lille have been okay defensively this season, but they’ve struggled to find the back of the net and have a negative goal difference in their domestic league.

Ultimately, this is Chelsea’s tie to lose. They have the better coach, better squad and if they’re on song then they should be able to win this tie relatively comfortably.

Chelsea 2-0 Lille
Lillle 0-1 Chelsea
(Chelsea to qualify 3-0 on aggregate)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In arguably the tie of the round we’ll see last season’s semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid go head-to-head in a star-studded two-legged affair.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

Paris Saint-Germain were planted right in the middle of another group of death scenario as they were last season, alongside Man City, RB Leizig and Club Brugge.

They made hard work of it, ending the group stage in second place some way behind City after draws with both Brugge and Leipzig as well as a defeat by City at the Etihad Stadium. It wasn’t until victory in the final game that they secured qualification.

Real Madrid had an easier time of qualification in their group, alongside Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and minnows Sheriff.

They were shockingly beaten at the Bernabeu by Sheriff, but were able to win all five of their other fixtures to top the group and pull clear of Italian champions Inter on the final day to secure that spot.

Team news

PSG are likely to be without former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos for the first-leg of the game, with the Spaniard still suffering from calf problems that have restricted him to just four appearances this season.

Neymar is back in training after injury but will likely only make the bench at best for the first leg, meaning old foe Lionel Messi and Madrid-bound Kylian Mbappe will lead their attack.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is likely to get the nod ahead of Keylor Navas in goal, while Achraf Hakimi will also be making a return to the Bernabeu during this tie.

Paris Saint-Germain's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe run during the warm-up sesson ahead of the...

For Madrid, they’re struggling to get key man Karim Benzema fit following a thigh injury.

The French striker has missed each of the last three games, and Ancelotti’s side have managed just one goal in his absence. Vinicius Jr has also seen his form dip since, which is bad news for Los Blancos.

Eden Hazard is fit but out of favour, but as a man always ready for the big occasion he could get the nod in Benzema’s absence. Ferland Mendy is also a doubt at left-back, so Marcelo could start.

Breakdown and Prediction

Tactically these two teams are very similar on the pitch with the way they set up defensively and the way they attack.

Both managers have formed a solid defence during the season, with a midfield that is all about control rather than creativity or solidity.

They complete plenty of passes on the ball and play their way out of tight situations, using pace and individual skill to create goalscoring opportunities in the final third.

With Benzema likely to be out of the game and Vinicius’ form struggling without him, PSG have a huge chance of progression.

Messi’s best form has come in Europe this season, with five goals in the six group games while Mbappe has been sensational this season and is the club’s top scorer.

Away goals are no longer a factor in the tournament so home advantage in the second leg is less important, and PSG must look to take advantage of a weaker Madrid team that they’ll be coming up against.

It’ll be a close but entertaining affair for sure, simply because of the quality on the pitch, but I do expect PSG to have the added X-factor in attack and be able to eliminate the 13-time champions.

Paris SG 2-0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 1-1 Paris SG
(Paris SG qualify 3-1 on aggregate)

Gini Wijnaldum admits he’s unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Gini Wijnaldum has admitted that he is not ‘completely happy’ with his current situation at the club.

The Holland international signed for PSG on a free transfer in the summer from Liverpool, making a last minute U-turn when it seemed certain that we would be joining Barcelona.

Wijnaldum was offered a bigger wage and incentives to sign with the strength of PSG’s squad, while also being promised a regular starting role in the side’s midfield.



Wijnaldum was one of several signings at the Parc Des Princes this summer alongside Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Lionel Messi and Nuno Mendes.

But the good form of midfielder Idrissa Gueye has seen him preferred alongside Marco Verratti so far this season by manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Wijnaldum is currently with the Netherlands national team and spoke to local media about his situation.

“I can’t say I’m completely happy,” Wijnaldum said to Dutch outlet NOS. “Because the situation is not what I wanted.

Beni Makouana of Montpellier Herault SC challenges Georginio Wijnaldum of Paris Saint-Germain during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Paris Saint...

“But that’s football and I’ll have to learn to deal with that. I’m a fighter. I have to stay positive and work hard to turn it around.

“I think [not playing], it’s a primary concern for every player,” Wijnaldum added.

“It’s also worrying if you don’t play. But it’s just the beginning of the season. A lot can still happen and I stay positive.”

PSG currently sit top of Ligue 1 having won eight out of nine league games and top of their Champions League group having beaten Man City on match day 2.

What is Paris Saint-Germain’s problem?

It wasn’t that long ago when Paris Saint-Germain had one of the best transfer windows in modern memory and were tipped to win everything, by everyone.

After holding on to Mauricio Pochettino despite missing out on the Ligue 1 title last season, PSG added all of Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Gini Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Lionel Messi and Nuno Mendes to their first-team squad.

They also rejected all interest from Real Madrid in Kylian Mbappe and renewed the contract of Neymar, giving them without a doubt one of the deepest and best squads in world football.

They’ve started the season in weird fashion however, and there aren’t many explanations for it.

The Parisians had won all eight of their fixtures in Ligue 1 before this weekend, while also beating Man City in the Champions League with a brilliant performance in a 2-0 win in midweek. Their only blip was a 1-1 draw with Club Brugge, in which they largely dominated but didn’t take their chances.

On Sunday however they took on Rennes away and while they created plenty of chances, they failed to officially register a shot on target as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat.

The performance itself wasn’t bad, but it summed up something that had been present in the majority of their performances this season that just wasn’t sustainable in the long term.

Despite the insane amount of quality they have available to them on the pitch, PSG just don’t seem to have clicked as a team yet. Defensively the team are giving up far too many opportunities and they’re relying heavily on their individual quality to bail them out.

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the French L1 football match between Stade Rennais and Paris...

Mauro Icardi has scored two late winning goals this season already while it took a brace from Hakimi to including a 95th minute winner to earn all three points for PSG against Metz recently too.

Mbappe has scored four times this season but Neymar and Messi are struggling to get going after busy summers with their national teams and the frightening trio on paper aren’t looking so frightening on the pitch currently.

With that said though, it’s minor tweaks needed to really sort out their problems. While they’re not finishing their chances currently, that is also not sustainable with the quality of attacker they have at their disposal.

Even against Rennes Neymar missed a sitter from eight yards out, Mbappe missed a one-on-one a couple of minutes later, Messi hit the bar and Mbappe then had a goal disallowed for a tight offside call in the build up. Eventually, those chances go in and PSG are 3-0 up before the break.

Defensively, it’s just communication problems right now. It’s a new back line and it’s just momentary lapses in concentration that are costing them. It’s almost as if when they play against their domestic rivals they know they have the quality to get them out of a hole on most occasions.

They seem to lack the motivation to keep clean sheets and are almost believing their own hype a bit too much. Against Man City they were in control and barring one chance, they were never really threatened. Donnarumma’s presence will bring that love for clean sheets to the side and once Ramos is fit and playing he will also encourage that in the team.

It’s minor pieces and the over-reaction to the defeat on Sunday is glaring, but there are issues to iron out. Underestimate them at your peril, PSG are a serious outfit and will be involved in all the trophy talk come the end of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain successfully hijack Barcelona move for Gini Wijnaldum

For months it has been believed that Gini Wijnaldum was going to join Barcelona on a free transfer, but that won’t be the case after all after Paris Saint-Germain got involved.

The Liverpool midfielder confirmed after the final Premier League game of the season that he would be leaving Anfield after five seasons at the club, where he won the Premier League and Champions League.

It was believed he would be joining former Holland coach Ronald Koeman at the Camp Nou, after the club chased his signature all of last summer but ended up not having the funds to get Liverpool to agree to a sale.

Following the announcement that he’d be leaving Liverpool, there were several reports that he had agreed a three-year deal with the La Liga side and would join the club on a free transfer.

All that was left to complete were medicals, but Holland manager Frank De Boer stated that he didn’t want transfers to distract his players and was hopeful that nothing like that would happen during his Euro 2020 camp.

But now that delay has seemingly cost the Barcelona hierarchy the player’s signature, because PSG have swooped in and trumped their contract offer to convince the Dutchman to sign with them instead.

According to highly-reliable journalist Fabrizio Romano, manager Mauricio Pochettino was heavily involved in getting Wijnaldum to change his mind and sign for the Ligue 1 side.

Pochettino is desperate to bolster his midfield after missing out on the French title to Lille last season and crashing out of the Champions League in the semi-finals to Manchester City.

While Marco Verratti is one of the untouchables in midfield, his injury record is a huge issue. Constantly missing chunks of the season has seen him limited despite his obvious quality, while Pochettino relied heavily on Leandro Paredes last season.

The three of them as a trio would provide plenty of steel, energy and quality on the ball but also allows for Pochettino to play with a faster tempo. Last season he was forced to use Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye or Danilo in that third midfielder role and they often slowed the game down too much and allowed defences to get back in place quickly.

Wijnaldum will be used to the fast transition game coming from Jurgen Klopp’s side and with Pochettino coming from the Premier League too he’ll know all about the 30-year-old’s qualities. He tried to sign him for Tottenham when he left Newcastle back in 2016, but Wijnaldum opted for Liverpool instead.

The decision for Wijnaldum is a simple one. He’ll start for both teams but right now there is far more promise in the PSG project when it comes to winning trophies and he’ll be earning a considerable amount more money.

It’s a good move for the club and the player in a tight transfer market where funds are limited. As for Barcelona, they had counted on this deal being done but they’ll now need to re-think their squad plan and strategy ahead of the new season.

What’s Eduardo Camavinga’s best move this summer?

One of the hottest young talents in world football looks set to move clubs this summer, as Eduardo Camavinga enters the final year of his contract.

The 18-year old midfielder has been brilliant for Ligue 1 side Rennes since breaking into the first-team setup at just 16 back in 2019. The rangy, defensive midfielder has attracted interest from some of the top clubs in the world and Rennes have slapped a €100m price tag on his head.

That hasn’t kept the vultures from circling, with PSG, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea all still interested in a potential deal this summer. But which move is best for the young midfielder?

According to reports, the player is most interested in a move to the French capital. Paris Saint-Germain are crying out for a proper midfield, with Marco Verratti the only option with genuine quality on the ball.

For a squad so expensively assembled, having options including Ander Herrera, Danilo, Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler just isn’t acceptable for a team chasing European glory. Camavinga would add brilliance on the ball and some great defensive solidity too, as well as an extra superstar name with youth too.

Real Madrid are also in need of freshening up the midfield. Luka Modric has agreed a new one-year contract with the club but is 36-years-old and has only got so much left in the tank, while Toni Kroos is in his thirties and Casemiro will turn 30 during the season too.

The issue for the La Liga side is that they are severely lacking in cash for transfers. Their desperation for the European Super League says it all and while they’re likely to make a lot of sales this summer, it won’t be enough to secure the funds for all the deals they want to pursue. Unfortunately for them, Zidane’s decision to leave will also make them that little bit less attractive with young French talent too and a deal seems unlikely to happen.

There is also the option for a move to the Premier League, with reports that Manchester United are interested in signing him.

With Paul Pogba’s future up in the air as he enters the final 12 months of his contract, the rangy midfielder is seen as an ideal replacement should the World Cup winner end up leaving Old Trafford. The likelihood however is that even if Pogba does leave, there are clubs in better positions who would be interested and signing for United would be a big gamble for the player.

It seems as though the most ideal situation for Camavinga is the move to PSG, but with a €100m price tag with just one year left on his contract he may be forced to wait to make it.

It’s unlikely anyone will agree to pay that amount and whether Rennes would rather lose him for free is unknown, but the player has made it clear to the club that he will not be signing a renewal under any circumstances.

The decision ultimately comes down to how serious Rennes are about their price tag and how stubborn they really want to be. But for Camavinga, he’d be pretty silly to go anywhere but PSG at this point too.

Lille crowned champions of France as Juventus scrape Champions League qualification

Paris Saint-Germain are not the champions of France anymore, after Lille were crowned the winners of Ligue 1 thanks to their win over Angers on the final day.

The French title race went down to the wire, with PSG needing to better Lille’s result on Sunday to be able to leapfrog them at the final hurdle and win the title for a fourth straight season.

It was never on the cards on the day though, as Lille took an early lead and never looked back. Record signing Jonathan David was put through on goal by Renato Sanches and slotted past the goalkeeper, before Burak Yilmaz smashed a penalty home on the stroke of half-time to all but seal the title in the first half.

PSG had an eventful first half of their own, with Neymar missing a penalty after mind games from the Brest goalkeeper before Angel Di Maria scored directly from a corner. Kylian Mbappe added another in the second half but that wasn’t enough though as Lille stayed firm throughout the second half of their game to be crowned champions for the first time since the 2010/11 season.

It’s an incredible achievement from Christophe Galtier’s side, who have blended youth and experience brilliantly and maintained a very exciting style of play to be able to go toe-to-toe with the billionaires in the capital.

Mauricio Pochettino’s job when appointed in January was to ensure success. While he has won two domestic cups since joining, the club were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Champions League by Manchester City and now were pipped to the title too, in a league many deem to be a one-horse race.

Considering he only signed an 18-month contract on arrival, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Qatari owners decide to cut ties now and bring someone else in this summer with a more long-term view at things.

Elsewhere on the continent in Italy, Juventus were able to scrape qualification into the Champions League on the final day after Napoli failed to beat Verona and they beat Bologna 4-1.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-BOLOGNA-JUVENTUS : News Photo
Ronaldo watches on as an unused substitute

Manager Andrea Pirlo made the unthinkable decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from the team for the must-win game, but the choice worked brilliantly as the Bianconeri raced into a 3-0 lead in the first-half. Ronaldo didn’t even come on as Juventus waited patiently, but as Napoli failed to break down Verona and were held to a 1-1 draw their fate was confirmed.

They’ll be joined in the competition by AC Milan, who beat Atalanta 2-0 thanks to two Franck Kessie penalties to finish 3rd and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2014.

Milan had led the table for a short period during the winter, but eventually faded away and as injuries and poor form picked up their season threatened to spiral out of control. Stefano Pioli was able to manage the situation well though and saw the team win four of their last five games to secure a wonderful season for themselves.

While Ronaldo’s future will almost certainly now be called into question, Juventus will be delighted to have been able to qualify after a very rocky season. They can now focus on rebuilding the squad, with or without Pirlo and Ronaldo, to try and reclaim their place as Italy’s best.

As for PSG, they also have some big decisions to make this summer. Despite the hundreds of millions spent revamping the squad over the years, they are still in need of some big upgrades at full-back and in midfield. Add to that the fact that Mbappe is entering the final year of his contract and there is a lot going on that needs to be addressed this summer.

How Europe’s leagues can be settled on the final day

A long and crazy season is finally coming to an end, but not before a wild final day across Europe’s top leagues.

While the Bundesliga in Germany is settled, with Bayern Munich finishing as champions for a ninth consecutive season and the top four places already cemented, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A are all far from complete as we enter the final game of the campaign.

With champions and Champions League places to be settled in them all, lets take a look at all the potential outcomes of the three leagues so that you’re all caught up ahead of the games.


LIGUE 1

The French title race has been one of the most riveting all season long, with Paris Saint-Germain looking to become champions for a fourth season in a row.

Their quest for success has been matched all the way though by LOSC Lille, who have led the way with the points tally since the 20th game of the season. PSG have tried to close the gap but failed to win key games, but Lille have continued winning games to go into the final day of the season as favourites to win the title.

As it stands it’s a three-horse race, although AS Monaco will need a lot of things to go in their favour to become champions.

If Lille win their final game of the season against Angers they will be champions, no matter what else happens in the division.

Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG must better Lille’s result to become champions again. Should they draw with Brest and Lille lose, they will both end the season on 80 points but PSG will win the title on goal difference with the league breaking any ties via GD and then goals scored – not head to head.

If Monaco are to pull off the impossible, they must win their final game of the season against Lens and hope both PSG and Lille lose. On top of that, they will need a six goal swing in their favour for the goal difference. It’s unlikely, but still possible and would represent the biggest shock of all the potential possibilities.


SERIE A

While the champions of Italy are already crowned with Inter Milan ending the dominance of Juventus thanks to the brilliance of Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku in particular, the rest of the division is a free-for-all.

The four places directly below them are all still up for grabs, with the potential of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus team finishing up in the Europa League places very real.

The final day of the season will see Atalanta take on AC Milan, where a win for Milan will not only confirm their place in the Champions League for next season but also move them above Atalanta in the league table. That would also allow Napoli to move above them with a win in their final game against Verona. Should both Milan and Napoli win their games, it won’t matter what Juventus do on the final day against Bologna as they will be unable to be caught.

Juventus must win their game and also hope one of AC Milan or Napoli do not in order to make the top four and ensure their record of appearing every year since 2012 continues. Should Andrea Pirlo’s side fail to win, then both Napoli and Milan will qualify regardless of their own results.


LA LIGA

The simplest of all, but the most tense end to the season will be the Spanish league title race between Madrid’s two biggest clubs Atletico and Real.

The two sides, along with FC Barcelona, have competed all throughout the season to be crowned champions, with Diego Simeone’s side at one point holding a massive lead with games in hand too. However a bad turn in form earlier in the season has seen them be dragged back into the tussle and it will now go down to the final day.

Barcelona were in the race up until this past weekend, when a 2-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo meant they now were unable to match the winning points tally but the tightness of the battle between the top two was on show in the matches involving the two Madrid sides.

Atletico were able to wrap the title up during the last game, if they had won their game against Osasuna and Real Madrid had failed to win. However as Real Madrid took the lead through defender Nacho, Atleti fell behind. They managed to turn the result around however, with goals from substitute Renan Lodi and a late winner from summer signing Luis Suarez meaning the title is still in their hands.

This weekend Simeone’s men will travel to Valladolid knowing that a win will secure them a first title since 2013. Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will however host Villarreal, who need a win to secure European football themselves next season but also have a Europa League final in the midweek following to navigate.

Should Real Madrid win and Atletico Madrid’s fail to, they will win the title in back-to-back seasons for the first time since their 2006-08 campaigns. Los Blancos’ huge win in December in the Madrid derby means they will win the league should both teams finish level on points, with Spain opting for a head-to-head tie-breaker rather than goal difference.

Remembering Greatness: Lilian Thuram

When you think back to the legendary French national team back in the late nineties and early 00’s, one thing they were built off was a solid defence.

Along with the elegance of Zinedine Zidane in midfield and the explosive technique of Christophe Dugarry and Youri Djorkaeff in attack, in addition to the youthful energy and skill of Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, they were able to field a defence that was complete with everything you’d ask for.

One of the stand-out performers of that golden generation was right-back and absolute unit Lilian Thuram.

Standing at 6ft tall, Thuram was a physical defender who used those gifts to great effect constantly. He had fantastic pace, excellent strength, a brilliant football brain and was a leader throughout his career, winning a trophy at every club he played for as well as at international level.

He started off with AS Monaco in Ligue 1 as a teenager and after a couple of seasons as a back-up squad player, he finally broke into the team as a regular in the right-back position. In that first season with Monaco he won the Coupe de Ligue, although he wasn’t selected to play in that game by a certain Arsene Wenger.

He would go on to make 193 appearances for the French giants, while making his international debut in 1994. He also competed in Euro 1996, starting four out of five of France’s fixtures as they went out in the semi-finals on penalties after conceding just two goals throughout the tournament.

Those performances would earn him a high-profile move to Parma in Serie A, as he became part of their legendary team filled with talent such as Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo.

PARMA TEAM SHOT, NESTOR SENSINI, FABIO MUSSI, ALAIN BOGHOSSIAN, LILIAM THURAM, GIANLUIGI BUFFON, JUAN SEBASTIAN VERON, FAUSTINO ASPRILLA, ANTONIO...

He made over 200 appearances for the club and won three trophies during his time in the famous yellow and blue shirt, all of which came in 1999. An excellent campaign saw Parma do the double, winning the Coppa Italia on away goals after drawing 3-3 with Fiorentina over two legs, before lifting the UEFA Cup thanks to a 3-0 win over Marseille in Moscow.

Thuram became a stalwart of the team and was a leader of the changing room as they went on to win the Supercoppa Italiana with a 2-1 win over league champions AC Milan, with Thuram captaining the team as one of the three centre-backs.

While he never lifted the Serie A title with Parma, many regard that period of his career as the best despite the trophies that would follow at club level. Not only did he do brilliantly with the Italian side, but he was magnificent as France dominated the international scene too.

Continuing in his right-back role with the national team, France won the 1998 World Cup with Thuram starting six out of seven games and the team conceding just once with him in the team. That goal came in the semi-final against Croatia, where Thuram played Davor Suker onside to allow them to take the lead. He made amends for losing that perfect record however by scoring twice to send Les Bleus through to the final – his only two international goals.

At Euro 2000 he was just as influential and important, starting five out of six games and completing every minute of each of those games. In fact, the only minutes he missed during the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 were when he was rested in the third group game of both tournaments with France already qualified, such was his importance.

The following season with Parma would go on to be his last as he led the team to a fourth place league finish and a Coppa Italia final, where they were beaten by Fiorentina 2-1 on aggregate.

His phenomenal reputation and ability earned him a move to Serie A heavyweights Juventus, who took him and Buffon at the same time for a deal that would be worth around €41million today.

The move saw him final claim some of the many titles his ability deserved, as he racked up four Scudetto’s (although two were later revoked due to the match-fixing scandal) and two Italian Supercoppa’s in five years at the club.

Once again playing as a right-back under Marcelo Lippi and then Fabio Capello, Thuram showed the world that while he was known as a no-nonsense central defender that had shone as one of the best around in the toughest defensive era, he could go both ways.

He continued to use his pace and intelligence to overlap and cause problems for opposition defenders in a team that dominated the bulk of possession and he was able to adapt brilliantly.

French players Christophe Dugarry, Lilian Thuram, and Robert Pires celebrate with their trophy after winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup 3-0 against...

Thuram was an ever-present in the team that made it all the way to the 2003 UEFA Champions League final, where they were beaten by Serie A rivals AC Milan on penalties at Old Trafford.

After the match-fixing scandal that rocked Italian football, Thuram was coming to the end of his career at 34 years old. That didn’t stop the top clubs wanting him however, as European champions Barcelona paid €5m to bring him to Spain.

There he would act largely as back up to Carles Puyol, Rafael Marquez and Gabriel Milito at centre-back with his pace now not what it once was. It was a transitional period for Los Cules and while they didn’t win La Liga during his time at the club, he was part of the club that won the Super Cup in 2006 – playing one half of the second leg in a 4-0 aggregate win.

Thuram would retire at the end of his two year spell as the third player to hit 100 international caps and most capped French player every with 142 caps to his name, with a record of having won everywhere he went.

Without a doubt one of the best pure defenders the modern game has ever seen, but also one of the most underrated attacking full-back to play the game too. One of France’s greatest ever exports, remember Lilian Thuram’s greatness next time you’re talking about all-time great defenders.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City – UEFA Champions League semi-final prediction

The business end of the season is upon us as the final four of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League is upon us.

Two mouth-watering clashes make up the semi-finals, as Chelsea take on Real Madrid for the first time ever while Paris Saint-Germain will take on Manchester City in the other game.

We’ve done predictions for every knockout tie in the competition so far, so we continue here with the two most exciting attacking sides left in the competition as the Cityzens take on the Parisians.

PSG come into the game having eliminated two of the pre-tournament favourites for the competition, beating both Barcelona and Bayern Munich away from home to be able to progress despite not winning the second leg of both games.

Kylian Mbappe was the star of the show, scoring five times in those ties as Mauricio Pochettino’s team showed a brilliant counter-attacking style over the four games while also mixing in their ball retaining abilities where needed.

They managed to dispatch of Barcelona without Neymar, who was at his scintillating best against Bayern, and Manchester City will have to be at their absolute peak to be able to deal with those two in full flow.

PSG will thankfully be able to count on Marco Verratti and Marquinhos once again too, who missed out through injury and COVID-19 last time out while Mauro Icardi is also fit and in goalscoring form once again. It will be interesting to see which front line Pochettino chooses to go with and whether he opts to try and keep the ball in midfield with City or just soak up pressure and defend.

City on the other hand made it through to this stage of the tournament with a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, before surviving a scare against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals thanks to a late Phil Foden goal in both legs.

Guardiola’s side will be coming in to this one on the back of winning the Carabao Cup for a fourth successive year with a 1-0 win at Wembley against Tottenham, where they were dominant throughout.

Defensively they have been one of the best sides in Europe this season, and they will need all of that during this tie against one of the better attacking outfits on the continent. Going forward they have been excellent too, with the lack of a natural centre forward leading the line often leaving defences with nobody to mark and causing issues.

Kevin De Bruyne and Verratti in the middle of the park will be a terrific battle, while Pochettino will almost certainly look to his thrilling win back when he was the Spurs manager as inspiration on how to get the Paris club to consecutive finals.

This is truly set up to be one of the most mouth-watering semi-finals in recent memory and over two legs either team could come away with a win and nobody would be surprised.

In goal both number ones are excellent, while the defences are evenly matched. You can argue that PSG have the better centre-back options, while City without a doubt have the better full-backs. In midfield the options are pretty even, while in attack it’s probably fair to give the nod to PSG.

The way that City play with the vast majority of possession and stretching the pitch will definitely suit them, but we have seen how they can struggle against teams who are potent on the counter attack. Their record against Manchester United shows you that, and PSG are best described as Man United on steroids with their style of play.

It’s an incredibly tough game to call. PSG’s style is tailor made for playing away against a side like City, while at home they have shown an ability to mix it up and be solid defensively but also take the game to their opponent when needed.

Overall, I won’t be surprised whoever goes through but I give the edge to Paris Saint-Germain’s frightening attack.


PREDICTION

Paris SG 1-1 Man City
Man City 1-2 Paris SG
(Paris Saint-Germain to progress 3-2 on aggregate)