Ligue 1

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Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

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Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Video: Strasbourg’s Terrier runs length of pitch during solo goal

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It’s been quite the week for promotion side Strasbourg, who continues to find its footing in France’s top flight.

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The first-year Ligue 1 side picked up another impressive victory on Friday, a 3-0 win over Bordeaux, just six days removed from the club’s massive upset of French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

The story of the day for Strasbourg though? A man named Terrier.

Yes, that’s actually somebody’s last name. Martin Terrier. And as you’ll observe in the video below, the man can flat out fly down the pitch.

Terrier is currently on loan at Strasbourg from fellow Ligue 1 side Lille, where the 20-year-old came up through the ranks of the team’s academy.

Strasbourg moved into 11th place with Friday’s win, bringing the club up to 21 points on the season.

Emery under pressure again after PSG’s first losses of season

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PARIS (AP) Less than halfway through the season, speculation has already started as to who might replace Unai Emery as Paris Saint-Germain coach.

Two straight losses brought PSG’s unbeaten run to a sudden halt and heaped the pressure onto Emery — the man hired to turn PSG from European also-rans into Champions League winners.

Since Qatari investors QSI invested hundreds of millions after taking over in June 2011, PSG has never been beyond the European Cup quarterfinals.

This was supposed the season when PSG, after spending record amounts during the offseason, was supposed to reach the next level. But five coaches were touted as possible replacements in a critical article of Emery in Thursday’s edition of sports daily L’Equipe.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who has openly flirted with a move to PSG in the past, and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte were among the big names.

Emery has been on slippery ground before, notably last season when PSG failed to make the Champions League quarterfinals after losing 6-1 at Barcelona following a 4-0 victory at home in the first leg.

PSG also lost the league title but Emery — hand-picked by PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi after guiding Sevilla to three straight Europa League titles — kept his job.

Furthermore, he was given huge funds to buy the so-called missing ingredients for European success.

Brazil forward Neymar and rising teen star Kylian Mbappe arrived for a combined $474 million dollars — making them the world’s two most expensive players.

But last Saturday’s 2-1 loss at promoted Strasbourg — a team that spiraled into obscurity after going into liquidation six years ago — was followed by Tuesday’s 3-1 loss at Bayern Munich.

Both games exposed the same flaws as last season.

PSG looks to be a top-heavy side overly slanted toward attack and highly vulnerable in defense. Against Bayern, Mbappe did well but Neymar drifted in and out and they did not look like a partnership.

Mbappe and Neymar hardly tracked back and PSG’s fullbacks were easily exposed by the pace of Bayern’s wide players, and when the ball was played behind them.

While PSG arguably needed one of the two forwards, buying both appears to be a waste of funds that could have been invested into weaker areas. Given that PSG’s problem has never been scoring goals, over-loading the attack seems futile.

When Thiago Motta is not protecting the back four as a defensive midfielder, there is little cover from the other midfielders. Adrien Rabiot can play the holding role but has openly expressed a preference to play a more attacking midfield game.

PSG also lacks a commanding goalkeeper.

Alphonse Areola is promising, but the 24-year-old Frenchman is largely untested at the highest level and is not yet vocal enough to command his back four with authority.

Within moments of losing to Bayern, Al-Khelaifi was responding to questions on French television.

“We hope this loss will help the team in the Champions League,” he said, looking ahead to the last 16. “We need to prepare well. We need to learn this lesson.”

Al-Khelaifi said much the same after last season’s loss to Barcelona. His constant media presence increases the pressure by casting a shadow over Emery’s methods.

It’s sometimes difficult to tell who’s running the team, and there appears to be a lack of unity when things become difficult. Against Bayern, the players became passive after the German team took control.

While Emery said, inaccurately, that PSG did not deserve to lose against Bayern, his president was firmly critical of the team’s performance. So were some players.

“We played too much like individuals. We didn’t play together enough as a team,” Rabiot said. “For the time being we’re not able to. When we try to do things by ourselves, it doesn’t work.”

Big victories over Celtic and Anderlecht padded out PSG’s goal tally during the group stage to a whopping 25 goals in six games. But those easy wins might have instilled a false sense of security.

“It’s very important to wake up now,” Al-Khelaifi said. “It’s not too late.”

Who are the favorites to win the UEFA Champions League?

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The bookies have a tendency to know the market, and the bookies like the chances of a new UEFA Champions League winner.

Both clubs would break a four-year Spanish hold on the trophy, but who are they and where do the rest fit (more or less, we checked several sites)?

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Sixteen teams remain alive in the tournament, and Real Madrid have won three of the last four (Barcelona the fourth). They place third and fourth on the list.

Here’s how the oddsmakers say it’ll go.

16. Basel
15. Shakhtar Donetsk
14. Besiktas
13. Sevilla
12. Porto
11. Roma
10. Liverpool
9. Chelsea
8. Tottenham Hotspur
7. Juventus
6. Manchester United
5. Bayern Munich
4. Barcelona
3. Real Madrid
2. Manchester City
1. Paris Saint-Germain

Now PSG is certainly a wonder team, and both they and Man City have made deep runs into the tournament before, but it’s a little wild to see them as favorites. Granted that Man City is averaging 4:1 compared to Real’s 5:1 and Barca’s 6:1 (PSG is 7:2), but it says something about how convincing Pep Guardiola‘s men have looked this season.

Stunning volley proves to be decider as Lyon tops Caen

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With Paris Saint-Germain suffering its first league defeat on Saturday, Lyon knew it could gain ground (albeit slight ground) on the Ligue 1 leaders.

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Lyon took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes when Maxwel Cornet lifted the visitors, but it was the game’s second goal that really got social media going.

In the 54th minute, Lyon dispossessed hosts Caen in its own half, before the ball fell to the team’s leading goalscorer — Mariano.

Watch the full buildup to the goal below, prior to Mariano’s blast into the side netting.