In Ligue 1 football, clubs are preparing for an atypical season

For ten years, the seasons have been spinning and look alike in the French championship. Take a locomotive fueled by Qatari petrodollars – Paris Saint-Germain – which logically puts its name on the competition’s prize list, if we except the surprises in Monaco (2017) and Lille (2021). Add to this its share of contenders for runners-up – most often Lyon, Marseille or Monaco –, an unbreakable soft belly and a last car prepared to fight for its maintenance.

The new 2022-2023 fiscal year, which opens on Friday August 5 with the meeting between Lyon and Ajaccio (9 p.m.), could however upset the established order. If PSG will aim for an 11th crown, the Parisians, like the rest of the elite, will have to deal with an unprecedented format where no longer two, or even three, but four teams will be relegated to the lower level. Either the condition of the passage, from the following season, from 20 to 18 clubs in the championship while maintaining two promotions from Ligue 2.

Already adopted in the past – from the post-war period until 1970, then from 1997 to 2002 – this restriction was formalized in December 2021 for a dual purpose. Make the championship more attractive to sell it better when negotiating the next television rights. And allow the French teams to gain in competitiveness to hope to appear better on the European scene. By going from 38 to 34 games played over a season, this will free up four weeks for the big clubs playing the Champions League”retains Patrick Guillou, specialist for BeIN Sports in the German championship, where the 18-club formula has been practiced for a long time.

“Be 100% ready from the first meeting so as not to be left behind”

This new configuration has mainly affected the preparation of teams accustomed to the bottom of the table. With four runs, all teams will try to score as many points as possible as quickly as possible. You will have to be 100% ready from the first meeting so as not toe let go”, explained at a press conference the coach of Reims, Oscar Garcia. “I think that during the season the most disturbed teams will be those in the middle of the table, which could be affected by these four ejection seats”, plans for his part Bruno Irles, the coach of Troyes, expected, with Brest, Clermont or Lorient, among the clubs fighting for their maintenance. In this context, some formations have anticipated their recruitment, as in Angers where seven reinforcements have already joined the workforce.

Should we therefore fear a more padlocked season, where small teams will be tempted to be particularly cautious? “I don’t think the quality of the game is affected. The goal is to be efficient, and the best way to do that is to stay true to what you know how to do,” nuance Bruno Irles, citing the example of the promoted Auxerre and Toulouse, “mounted in Ligue 1 thanks to an attacking profile that they themselves have an interest in not denying”.

Winter break postponed due to Mondial

In this year of the World Cup in Qatar (from November 21 to December 18), usually disputed at the beginning of summer and exceptionally moved to prevent the sweltering heat, the calendar is also turned upside down. Teams qualified for a European Cup will have to negotiate a denser first part of the season, like in the Champions League, where there will be only one week between group stage matches. “It changes the planning. From August until November, there will be a lot of matches, so it will be important to have different player profiles because we will be playing every three days.” estimated the president of Marseille, Pablo Longoria.

The winter break, extended to 45 days, will therefore be brought forward to allow the championship to resume its rights during the end of year celebrations. Most teams will grant two weeks off to players who will not be affected by the event, before embarking on a new phase of fitness. A cut that could lead to “big surprises in the results, judged Nicolas Dyon, former physical trainer from Nice and Rennes, in an interview with West France in June. The teams which do not have internationals, if they work well, will be able to pull out of the game”.



Football: Jonathan Clauss, the hour has come for the atypical Blue

Five short minutes. Entering at the very end of the match, Jonathan Clauss did not walk the lawn of the Stade de France for long. Just enough time to touch two balls and participate in the victory of the Blues who turned the situation around in extremis to win against Côte d’Ivoire (2-1), Friday, March 25. To still benefit from his first selection, the new recruit enjoys his team’s lap of honor after the meeting, eyes wide open like a kid. ” It’s extraordinary “he repeats, shaking his head in disbelief.

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A few days earlier, arriving at the Blues training center in Clairefontaine, it was the same happy face who discovered the site. “A child, sorry, I don’t have the words”, smiled the RC Lens full-back. He is there, in the France group, with the big boys, and he can’t get over it. Most of his future teammates are younger than him, who is 29 years old. But he is still this kid who sees his dream come true and struggles to realize his chance. When most of Didier Deschamps’ men line up gifted courses, Jonathan Clauss displays an atypical CV.

False start and school of patience

The story however begins in the nails. The ball in his paws he barely knows how to walk, the club of his hometown at 6 years old, and very quickly the flagship team of his native Alsace: he joined RC Strasbourg at the end of childhood and did all his training there. . But at 18, when it comes to shifting into high gear, his club lets go: he is considered physically too fair, but above all mentally too soft. A little casual, and struggling to assimilate all the constraints of the professional world.

Back home in 2010, the landing is difficult. Soccer “then becomes really secondary”, he would say later. He thinks of putting away the crampons. But because he had to take care of himself, he joined the Pierrots-Vauban Sports Association in Strasbourg, a CFA2 club (now National 3), the fifth level in French football. Amateur therefore, with odd jobs at the same time to inflate the portfolio. The rest is the time to grow, to mature. He crossed the border to play for a year in the German sixth division, returned to France at Raon-L’Étape, where his coach often had to retrain him because of his delays, and moved to US Avranches (National) in 2016, where his qualities finally set him apart.

Because Jonathan Clauss ensures on the ground, full-back playing the overactive wipers on his wing, able to center to the millimeter and to score more often than in turn. His qualities earned him a first signing of a professional contract in Ligue 2 at US Quevilly-Rouen for the 2017-2018 season. At 24, the reward is late. And the school of patience is not over. His contract lasts only one year, and the club is relegated. Jonathan Clauss returns to Germany, in the second division, at Arminia Bielefeld.

an opportunity not to be missed

This time, rigor really becomes his line of conduct and his talent explodes, essential architect of the club’s rise in the Bundesliga for its second year across the Rhine. In the summer of 2020, it is finally the grail of Ligue 1: RC Lens recruits him for three years. The quest was long, but supported by his family, Jonathan Clauss is reaching the goal. In the monthly SoFoothis mother Josiane summarizes: “Without going to church, we are however very religious. We feel that someone is protecting us in heaven. »

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The son signs himself before each entry into play, and does not deviate from his pre- and post-match ritual: a phone call to his parents. In Lens, he very quickly became the darling of the supporters, who called for a selection with the Blues even before Euro 2021. See his name circulating to join “the great French team”, as he says, threw him a little off balance last fall. A slight slump, quickly overcome. “I take things day by day, lightly, with a little humor”he swears then.

It prevents. His time has come, and a new pressure is here. His selection, “It’s not Jonathan’s party, it’s not his jubilee. He should not consider this as an end but as a step., warned Didier Deschamps. Now we have to make our place. Jonathan Clauss has a shot to play to sneak into the 23 who will be at the World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year. Past the wonder, it’s now.


Still waiting for broadcaster

Will the friendly match against South Africa in Lille this Tuesday be the last broadcast by TF1 for a long time? The question remains pending a few days before the expiry of the contract which binds the Blues to the TF1 and M6 channels for the retransmission of their matches (excluding the World Cup and Euro). The call for tenders for the 2022-2028 period proved unsuccessful last fall. The procedure brought together offers of less than 3 million euros per match, well below the 3.5 million euros paid today. The French Football Federation hopes to reach at least this sum in the over-the-counter negotiations which have since opened. But the merger project by 2023 in which TF1 and M6 are engaged is blurring the cards, and the other candidates are not legion. The Blues will open the next League of Nations against Denmark on June 3 at the Stade de France. But on what screen? Mystery.