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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”.

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Football: Bordeaux at the start of a decisive season in Ligue 2



From a land presented as infernal a few weeks ago, the second division championship would almost today seem like an oasis in Bordeaux. After the void that their sporting relegation from Ligue 1 to Ligue 2 – a first in 62 years – hinted at at the end of last season, the Girondins came very close to nothingness when the National Management Control Department (DNCG), the financial policeman of French football, had spoken out in favor of their administrative demotion to the lower floor, on June 14. The path to the National, the third division and exit door to the amateur level in France, even seemed traced when the body validated its decision on appeal in early July, following the financial examination of the club.

Promising to fight ” until the end “, Bordeaux President Gérard Lopez then moved his fight to the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF). His position in favor of keeping the club in Ligue 2 was finally followed, on Wednesday July 27, by the executive committee of the French Football Federation (FFF), just three days before the opening of the season.

This emergency rescue, the scapular club owes it to new financial guarantees, deemed sufficient by the city’s commercial court a week earlier. In this model, the Girondins’ creditors, the American investment funds King Street and Fortress, agreed to reduce the club’s debt by at least 50% and an additional 24 million euros were placed in receivership, divided between a capital increase and a guaranteed sale of players during the transfer window. The recent departure of striker Sékou Mara to England for 13 million euros and the percentage affected by Bordeaux on the resale of their former player Jules Koundé from Seville to FC Barcelona last week have already filled this last part.

“Symbolic decision”

“This is excellent news for the club but also a symbolic decision for French football, Bordeaux is part of the sporting heritage, salutes Alain Anziani, the president (PS) of Bordeaux-Métropole, aware that a descent into National would probably have resulted in a bankruptcy filing. By losing its professional status, the club would also have lost several hundred jobs, its training center and its brand image which contributes to the attractiveness of our city. » Last month, the chosen one had given up collecting from the Girondins a rent of 5 million euros for the Matmut Atlantique stadium for this new season.

Other positions from the political sphere were enough to fuel the debate around the draft of this history of the hexagonal championship, founded 140 years ago and six times titled in Ligue 1. High-ranking people in the Federation told me: “If it had been another club, we would follow the rules. But there, it is the Girondins de Bordeaux.” (…) Imagine a guy who fails his baccalaureate. Then who goes to catch up and who misses again. But his dad has a lot of influence and a lot of money, and he gets a third session for his son where the marks he had before will no longer be taken into account. Top experts would be there to upgrade the boy. Then he comes back, and we give him the baccalaureate, “ Philippe Terrier, the president of the Villefranche club, had thus wondered, who could have entered Ligue 2 in place of Bordeaux, questioned by The Team before the verdict of the FFF.

“Reinforced control” this season

The big sigh of relief, shared by the leaders to former players like Alain Giresse or Bixente Lizarazu, via the supporters, does not however suggest a season sheltered from tumults. After having won only a draw during the first day, Saturday July 30, against Valenciennes (0-0), the coach of Bordeaux, David Guion, has also hinted that the immediate rise in the elite was not the goal, especially since the technician will have to deal with a largely overhauled workforce, where the bulk of the degreasing is expected by the end of the transfer window, September 1.

From Tuesday, the club will once again go before the DNCG, which could ban it from recruitment. I don’t think drastic measures will be taken, nuance David Gluzman, banker specializing in financial restructuring. It would be more reasonable to impose on the club a framework for transfer compensation and its payroll. This would encourage him to rebuild a project more rooted in the local area, without forbidding a more planned dose of player trading. » The continuation of a series of meetings which will aim to exercise “reinforced financial control”, recommended by the FFF, throughout this 2022-2023 financial year.

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A decade of turbulent finances

In 2009, the Girondins are crowned champions of France. They will even play a lucrative quarter-final of the Champions League the following season, but see their payroll jump. A first deficit is dug.

In 2018the owner M6 sells the club to the American investment fund GACP and King Street.

Bankrupt after King Street divestiture Last yearBordeaux is taken over by the Hispano-Luxembourgish businessman Gérard Lopez, ousted a few months earlier from the head of Lille for indebtedness.

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Formula 1: the coronation of Max Verstappen after a staggering season



The 2021 drivers’ world champion is Max Verstappen, and history will remember that the Dutchman won his first coronation at 24 by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday 12 December, securing a tenth victory this season. , against eight to his rival Lewis Hamilton. Logical then.

Not quite, however, in view of an incredible end of the race and a Grand Prix that was played on the dice and on the last lap. It is necessary to tell this crazy ride with rebound, to measure to which point this season of Formula 1 was placed under the sign of a malicious chance like never before. That the two rivals of the great automobile circus would find themselves tied on points after 21 events was already statistically unlikely. But that the ultimate explanation would unfold like this on a few bends was unimaginable.

A season on a roll

Because everything seemed to be played out from the start, and for the benefit of Lewis Hamilton. First, thanks to a great start, much better than that of a Max Verstappen who was in pole position. Then thanks to a limit maneuver of which the Briton often has the secret. In turn 7, Max Verstappen dared to try to regain the lead by passing inside. Well done, except that the Dutchman forced Lewis Hamilton to leave the track, then to cut a chicane, operation finally allowing the Briton to better settle in front! The Dutchman could protest behind his wheel, the race marshals did not even see fit to open an investigation.

→ ANALYSIS The popularity of Formula 1 driven by a thrilling end of the season

The rest then resembled a Lewis Hamilton recital, imperial on his Mercedes. Impressing an unbearable pace for the Red Bull of his rival, he sped rather quietly towards the victory which was profiled with a good ten seconds in advance with six laps of the arrival. But patatras. A departure from the road by the Canadian Nicholas Latifi called everything into question. Here are all the competitors forced to line up behind the safety car. Max Verstappen could thus pick up again, and take advantage of a significant advantage: wearing soft tires, his car potentially became faster than that of Lewis Hamilton handicapped by worn tires.

The safety car thus let go of the beasts for a last lap, and in the same turn 7 where the Dutchman had attacked at the start, he again passed a helpless Lewis Hamilton. Surprisingly final. “I had a little luck for me”, will recognize the new world champion at the foot of the podium. So here he is who wins this title that some have been promising him since his beginnings. He had to wait, Max Verstappen, but his victory is all the more tasty.

A precocious talent

Man in a hurry, he was in a hurry when he arrived in the world of Formula 1 in Melbourne in 2015 at 17 years and 166 days, in a Toro Rosso car, the satellite team of Red Bull. A record of precocity, which not all saw a good eye. “Does the Red Bull team realize that they are putting a child in F1? “, wondered the champion Jacques Villeneuve. The kid from his second Grand Prix nevertheless entered the points (seventh in Malaysia). And the following year, he was promoted to the flagship Red Bull team. To win in his first Grand Prix with the “big guys”, in Spain. At 18 years, 7 months and 15 days. The youngest winner of a Grand Prix since the creation of the world championship in 1950!

Too early and too fast? After his many precocity records strung like pearls in 2015 and 2016, the guy seemed to mark time then, a tone below in his performances, but above all condemned to suffer like the others the technical superiority of the Mercedes and the overwhelming domination by Lewis Hamilton. Things have changed this year, and the Dutchman did not miss the opportunity to showcase his driving science. With all the arrogance of youth, a touch of aggressiveness also sometimes, of the one he still summoned at the best time on the track in Abu Dhabi. Because still it was necessary not to let it pass, this chance offered in extremis.

But undoubtedly it was to end like this, on a twist, this exceptional season. Next year, the counters will be reset with new cars redesigned to offer perhaps even more spectacle, and more possibilities for the other teams to join in the battle of the chefs. “I am sure that next season, we will do it again”, has already bet Max Verstappen. Can’t wait for tomorrow, then.

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Sports

The popularity of Formula 1 driven by a thrilling end of the season



An urban circuit, 27 cascading bends, mostly fast, a dusty track, thrills for a nighttime spectacle. It is the framework of the duel with the knife which will oppose Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, this Sunday, December 5 at the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia, a first on the calendar of Formula 1.

The race can be decisive for the attribution of the title of world champion. Max Verstappen is on the right track, with an 8 point lead in the general classification. It can be sacred on Sunday. But his pursuer Lewis Hamilton is coming back very strong with his last two victories in Brazil and Qatar. If he wins just ahead of his Dutch rival, the two men will attack the last race, on December 12 in Abu Dhabi, tied on points. For a dantesque final.

Strong growth in audiences

This ideal scenario, the discipline dared not hope. The last suspenseful Grand Prix between two drivers from competing teams date back to 2012, and the fight between Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari). But fans go back even further, referring instead to the fight between Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Fernando Alonso (Renault) in 2006.

“There was a generation opposition – 12 years separating the two men – which we find today with the same age difference between Hamilton and Verstappen, underlines the specialist and consultant Marc Limacher. Hamilton is looking to break Schumacher’s record with an eighth world title, and 24-year-old Verstappen is the youngster on the rise. “

Rivalry maintains the new flame of the public of Formula 1. Because after years of boredom and disinterest, the great automobile circus is experiencing a resurgence.

Broadcaster in France, Canal + is rubbing its hands: its audiences have jumped 42% in two years, reaching an average of 1.13 million viewers per race. The phenomenon is similar in many European countries and in the United States (+ 62% audience for retransmissions).

F1 President Stefano Domenicali recently praised the success of his F1 TV broadcast platform: “The number of unique users on our site and our app has increased this year by 56% compared to 2020.”

The “Millennials” seduced

A recent study carried out by the Nielsen group from an online questionnaire answered by more than 167,000 fans from 187 countries also reveals a rejuvenation (34% under 24) and feminization (18.3%) public. Out of a smaller panel in 2017, young people represented only 26% and women 10%.

“On the one hand, there has been a real Netflix phenomenon, with the broadcast since 2019 on the platform of the documentary series Drive to Survive which tells about the past season, explains Marc Limacher. Many young people have discovered F1 and suddenly now follow the Grand Prix. F1 has also taken to social networks. The teams, the champions, but also the organizers, since the takeover of F1 by the Liberty Media group in 2017, have started to produce content. And it works. Millennials subscribe, comment, and in turn ensure a presence of F1 on TikTok, Instagram, etc. “

→ CRITICAL. 6 docu-series to get back to sport

Stefano Domenicali has also just mentioned a reflection of F1 to push this advantage, by broadcasting Grand Prix on YouTube (an experience tried in 2020 for the German Grand Prix), and content on Twitch (at the image of the sprint race of the last Brazilian Grand Prix).

Nostalgia, sensitive cord

The casting is also particularly careful to satisfy the public. The return this year of Fernando Alonso has delighted Spain. The explosion of the young Briton Lando Norris, 22, excites young people, as the arrival of Mick Schumacher, 22 years old and son of, who rekindles the interest of Germany.

The confirmed arrival on November 16 of Chinese Guanyu Zhou (still 22) as second driver in 2022 at Alfa Romeo promises a certain effervescence in the Middle Kingdom, a crucial market for the development of F1.

When it is not on men, it is on machines that the promoters of the discipline are betting. Next season, changes in the aerodynamics of racing cars should limit the disturbances caused by the cars on the grip of their pursuers, and therefore facilitate overtaking, for ever more spectacle. All observers are hoping for a return to form for Ferrari and a rise in strength of Alpine to join in the Red Bull-Mercedes duel.

Paradoxically, the improvement of F1 comes when its universe is hardly in phase with the current eco-responsible atmosphere. F1 promises to adapt from 2026 with engines and zero carbon fuel, but dodges while waiting for the question, also summoning a certain nostalgia quite fashionable in the sports world, from cycling to football through the rugby.

“Like other disciplines, F1 benefits from a long history, and likes to recall its glorious hours, from the Fangio of the 1950s to the Prost-Senna duel of the late 1980s, concludes Marc Limacher. Young people also discover this aspect with curiosity, and the less young appreciate the madeleine. F1 also knows how to play on this rope. “

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