World Cup 2022: the Blues, weakened defending champions

The scenario, dramatic, repeats itself. An injury, medical examinations, then the announcement that falls like a cleaver: that of a new package to be deplored. For several months, the bad news has been linked for the French football team, while the World Cup in Qatar, where it presents itself as defending champion, has just started. The trend has not reversed a few dozen hours before the kickoff of the first match of the Blues, Tuesday, November 22 at 8 p.m. against Australia.

On Saturday evening, France striker Karim Benzema withdrew after injuring his thigh during training. Three days earlier, 25-year-old Christopher Nkunku, injured in his knee, made the same forced decision. Before them, the pillars of the 2018 victory Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté, goalkeeper Mike Maignan and defender Presnel Kimpembe had already announced that they would not take part in the competition.

Olivier Giroud, the best equipped to replace Karim Benzema

To remedy this, Didier Deschamps opted for a larger group. Without Pogba or Kanté, the midfielder of the France team is bald. The coach was diplomatic with the newcomers: “You know what the two absent ones represent in terms of experience, of leadership. Fortunately, in the various gatherings, these new players had some playing time.

For the former physical trainer of the Blues, Éric Bedouet, present during the 2014 World Cup, the summoned midfielders have a card to play. The latter recalls that “Youssouf Fofana knows Aurélien Tchouaméni by heart, having worked alongside him in Monaco, who himself now rubs shoulders with Eduardo Camavinga at Real Madrid. »

In attack, Olivier Giroud is the best equipped to replace Karim Benzema. Holder in Russia, four years ago, and author of a very good start to the season with AC Milan, he has often been compared to his injured compatriot. A rivalry maintained mainly by the media, according to Éric Bedouet.

“I remember a game in Brazil where Giroud and Benzema were playing together on the pitch. At the end, Olivier found that his match had not been at the level.he recalls. “I showed him his match stats and said ‘Look at the numbers, the number of runs you’ve made to unsettle the opposition, assists etc. That’s how Karim scored.” He was reassured. That’s a group. »

Heal the egos

By summoning a larger group, the staff of the France team will have to heal the egos between the indisputable holders and the others. “Will they all have playing time? I don’t have the answer today”conceded Didier Deschamps, recalling that his main objective, with his staff,is not to lose anyone”.

“You never know what can happen during a competition, so everyone is likely to playrecalls Éric Bedouet. If Didier takes them, it’s because he knows that these are players who will blend into the collective. A group is built like that. If you take someone who absolutely wants to enter the field but you take him as a substitute, it can create problems. »

“It’s often the substitutes that make the group work”

For the specialist, “Each player is carefully monitored throughout the year. There are correspondences between the staff of the France team and the clubs to find out the personality of one or another. he explains. If a player is selected because of his sporting skills, the fact remains that he will also be selected for his ability to accept remaining on the bench and to take on a more secondary role..

“In reality, it is often the substitutes who make the group work well. Take the example of Adil Rami in 2018”, advises Eric Bedouet. In Russia, the defender had not played a single minute in the seven games of the Blues. However, all his teammates had insisted on the leading role of number 17 during the competition. Jovial and a joker, he had contributed in his own way to making this group welded and united. Condition sine qua non to aim for a new coronation.


The Blues, always present at the highest level

France is taking part in Qatar in its 16e World Cup. It’s his 7e consecutive appearance, the longest streak in its history.

By combining Mondial and Euro, France participates in its 14e consecutive major tournament. The Habs have not been absent from a major international tournament since the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

The reigning world champions won their opening match in only three of the last twelve editions of the World Cup.

This is the 5e consecutive major tournament of Didier Deschamps as coach of France, a national record.



Tennis Masters: Caroline Garcia wins a major title, which completes a high-flying season

The tennis world can no longer ignore Caroline Garcia. The player who has just celebrated her 29th birthday won the WTA Masters in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday, November 7 (7-6, 6-4).

Against the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (world number 8), the native of Saint-Germain-en-Laye was disarmingly solid, especially in service, not leaving the slightest opportunity to break her rival. A battle rarely exceeding four strokes per rally then ensued, with the two players maintaining their face-off with authority.

The decision was made during the decisive game of the first set: if the Frenchwoman continued to excel on her serve (68% of first serves passed) with a tenth ace, Sabalenka ended up cracking by committing two double faults, including that of who offered the sleeve to his rival.

The second run was faster. After a short stint in the Belarusian’s locker room, the latter was breakered from the start, on the very first opportunity from the Frenchwoman. It will be the only time of the game. Enough to complete a hoped-for victory for the French number 1.

In the footsteps of Mauresmo

The unexpected departure of his coach, Bertrand Perret, just before the tournament, for reasons “extra-sports”, was not right about the course of the Habs. The one who was called “precocious talent” by many observers at the start of his career now seems to have found the way to maturity.

In her game, aggressive but thoughtful, and in her mind, she now seems rid of the heavy weight of tricolor hope, becoming the second Frenchwoman to add her name to the list of winners of this end-of-season meeting bringing together the eight best players. of the world. Amélie Mauresmo won in 2005, at the expense of Mary Pierce, in a 100% tricolor final.

At the end of the meeting, the Frenchwoman, in tears, did not fail to greet her opponent of the day: “First thing, congratulations to you and your team, Aryna for being such a big fighter. “You gave it your all on every point. You put so much energy into every point, it’s a great pleasure to play against you but also to watch.”she praised.

“Fantastic tennis”

Speaking to the public and those around her, Caroline Garcia could not contain her emotion: “I thank my team for this trophy. Those who have helped me become a great player since I was twelve. You have made me a better person. The atmosphere this week has been extraordinary. There weren’t many rallies, but that’s our style of play and you liked it. »

A good player, her rival greeted the Frenchwoman, not without a touch of irony: “Caroline, as I speak, I hate you”, she carried away in a mixture of laughter and emotions. “You played fantastic tennis. Congratulations on your results and I hope to play new finals against you. Right, well done. »

Grand slam, Garcia’s next dream

This forceps victory rewards a prosperous 2022 year. Already semi-finalist of the last US Open and winner of the women’s doubles at Roland-Garros with her compatriot Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia thus writes the most beautiful line of her personal record.

Passed from the 75e 6th place in the worlde during a sparkling summer (4 titles since the end of June), the one who will be 4th in the WTA ranking published next Monday is now aiming for a Grand Slam title, to definitively enter the pantheon of great French players. Fleeing the tricolor prize list for nine years, and the consecration of Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon (2013), women’s tennis begins to dream of a new victory in one of the four major tournaments of world tennis.

Building on this success at the Masters, the French number 1 will now aim to win her first Grand Slam title on January 16 at the Australian Open.



At the Euro football championship, Les Bleues are aiming for a first major title

After the ripolining, the time of the consecration? It is a largely remodeled French football team which will set foot on English lawns in ten days for the next European Women’s Championship (from July 6 to 31). Exit Amandine Henry, the emblematic captain, Eugénie Le Sommer, the top scorer, or even Sarah Bouhaddi, the safe bet as goalkeeper. The last eighteen months have redesigned a wardrobe with more youthful features.

By force, one would be tempted to think, as the explanation does not seem to be to be found on the ground, where Amandine Henry, for example, was crowned European club champion with Lyon this season. The 30-year-old has especially paid for her public criticism of the coach, Corinne Deacon, whose mode of management of the group she had denounced in the fall of 2020 during the last World Cup, organized in France in 2019. Les Bleues had then left the World Cup from the quarter-finals, in a “utter chaos”,the midfielder was moved on Canal + : “I saw girls crying in their room, I was crying in my room. »

An exit which was added to several other criticisms, defender Wendie Renard pointing in particular to the “brutality” of the coach in a book published a few months after the failure of the World Cup. A new setback for a mature workforce, hunting for its first international trophy in a decade. Following the 2019 defeat, the coach stayed on and felt there was a lot to change. We can question it but we can also understand it, believes Yannick Chandioux, coach of Montpellier in the women’s first division. The team of 2015 and 2019 was collectively balanced, but it may have lacked strong individuals to make a difference. »

New generation

Talent, the new generation is full of it, carried by Marie-Antoinette Katoto, the most prolific striker of the last exercise with Paris-Saint-Germain – one of the two giants of French women’s football with Lyon – and of which she is already, at 23, the top scorer in history. The vice-champion of France joined the group two years ago, soon imitated by Clara Matéo, Melvine Malard or Selma Bacha, revealed during the last Tournoi de France, an international competition over three matches won by the Bleues last February.

For the list of players selected for the Euro, Corinne Deacon thus ticked twelve names who were not from the 2019 World Cup. “The news brings their passion. We have a lot of choice, there is a lot of competition, especially offensivelyconfides Griedge Mbock, experienced defender of the France team for nine years, according to whom the coach has adapted her management by showing herself “more open”.“There are a lot more exchanges (and) a little more flexibility, certainly”, Corinne Deacon had also assured Agence France-Presse in recent weeks.

” There is no more time to lose “

She nevertheless preferred to avoid some cohabitation problems by not retaining Kheira Hamraoui. The PSG player has been in trouble with certain club partners present in the selection since the attack she suffered in November 2021 and for which one of her teammates had been placed in police custody, finally lifted. The preparation for the Euro could also have been disrupted by the transfer window period. But Marie-Antoinette Katoto, the most sought after, has “made his decision” for next season, recently swept Deacon in a press conference.

These worries aside, the former coach of Clermont for men, where she became the first woman in this position in 2014, only aspires to one thing for this European championship: the title. ” There is no more time to lose “, she warned. Third nation in the Fifa ranking, Les Bleues will arrive among the favorites in England, as at the next World Cup in 2023 and then at the Paris Olympics a year later“one notch below Sweden, the United States or Japan”shade Yannick Chandioux. “These are advanced countries while we are still at the beginnings of women’s football in France. We could draw a parallel with the French team before Platini in the men’s category, which took a long time to win a title in the 1980s. The French will be able to rely on their good momentum: they have just scored a thirteenth victory in a row during their first warm-up match. Before a second against Vietnam, Friday July 1, in Orléans.


The list of 23 Blues

The France team will be opposed, during the group stage of the Euro, to Italy (July 10), Belgium (July 14) and Iceland (July 18).

Babysitters: Mylène Chavas, Justine Lerond, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

Defenders: Selma Bacha, Hawa Cissoko, Sakina Karchaoui, Griedge Mbock, Ève Perisset, Wendie Renard, Marion Torrent, Aïssatou Tounkara.

Environments : Charlotte Bilbault, Kenza Dali, Grace Geyoro, Ella Palis, Sandie Toletti.

Forwards: Sandy Baltimore, Delphine Cascarino, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Melvine Malard, Clara Matéo, Ouleymata Sarr.



Montpellier sparkles and offers its first title of champion of France

What had not been said of this final of the Top 14 2022 before its two actors opened the ball! That the show would certainly not enter the dance as the little music played by Castres or Montpellier this season, to be effective, was nonetheless deprived of momentum. That the style of play of the two clubs, quite similar, too often left the defense the baton of conductor, abandoning the solos of artists and other hectic flights.

It must therefore be a question of boredom, after a necessarily padlocked part. In short, the return to a combat rugby allegedly out of fashion since the eventful partitions imposed in recent years by the Toulouse Stadium or La Rochelle. Except that even before the doors close, the Montpellier residents have broken all the locks.

Maximum intensity and accuracy of gestures

Three essays in six short minutes, chained staccato, just to hammer home what no one wanted to see: “We showed that we also knew how to play rugby”, barely underlined the match concluded Philippe Saint-André, the coach of Montpellier and former coach of the France team (from 2011 to 2015). Maximum intensity, control of the races, accuracy of the gestures, everything was condensed there.

A show of strength. Like an inverted sequence from the 2018 final between the same two teams, and which had turned into a nightmare for Montpellier, who were nevertheless then favorites (victory for Castres, 29-13). This time, Castres had the favor of the forecasts, and it was the Tarnais who in turn missed out on their final, at least for a first half during.

Leading 23-3 at the break, Montpellier had told the essentials, satisfied this desire for revenge that the club had taken care not to summon just in case. Unnecessary precaution. If the second half of the debates was dominated by Castres, Montpellier remained camped on its bases, rediscovering its science of barbed wire training. Brilliant to begin with, solid and united to finish, the Montpellier residents have repainted their blurred image in a single evening in recent years.

The strength of a collective

That of a club too rich to be honest since the arrival of billionaire Mohed Altrad as majority shareholder in 2011, driven above all by its foreign stars, as during the gleaming 2018 season when its big South African arms had moved everything during the season before falling on the last step of the final. A trauma for the club, which therefore took four years to recover, losing its luster but gaining a more modest collective of “hungry”, as summarized by Philippe Saint-André, also a craftsman of the recovery since his arrival at the controls he 18 months ago.

The appetite of the hungry was revealed on Friday evening: they devoured Castres as soon as the banquet began. The pride of offering the club the first title in its history was on everyone’s lips after the final whistle. We got spat on, we supposedly had no identity, and that’s what forged the whole groupsaid scrum-half Benoît Paillaugue. I don’t know if all this will be erased, but I think Montpellier will be a little more respected.”. Without a doubt.



Rugby: Montpellier to conquer its first title of champion of France

A “remake”, but not a revenge. Since the start of this week which has led them, Friday June 24, to the final of the French rugby championship against Castres, at the Stade de France, the Montpellier residents have been spreading the message. To convince themselves of this, the people of Hérault have a few arguments. Of their workforce, only a handful were from the lost final, in 2018, against these same Castres, in the scenario of the season.

Dominating the season four years ago, Montpellier Hérault Rugby already seemed to hold the Top 14 cup with one hand, finally snatched by a Castres Olympique tumbling into the final after finishing the exercise in sixth position. This year, the roles have been rebalanced: the turn of Castres to approach the last step in the costume of leader, against Montpellier certainly second in the championship, but who come back from afar.

Bad reputation

The defeat in the 2018 final had left traces and a disappointment commensurate with the means deployed to achieve it. In 2011, a few weeks before its first Top 14 final, the club was bought by French billionaire Mohed Altrad. A team of new rich then set up, without “Being consistent in high performance for ten, eleven years”, acknowledged current coach Philippe Saint-André at a press conference last week. For these galactics from Montpellier, the failure of 2018 is then experienced as ” a trauma “, does he slip The cross. Consequence: in the winter of 2021, the club is on the verge of relegation. As if to remind the institution “to its young history”, and the players “to humility”, considers Philippe Saint-André, to whom then returns the sign of providential man.

That year, the former winger of the XV of France (69 selections in the 1990s) will get away with a tenth place and even a trophy at the European Challenge, the “small” European cup of the oval ball. Six years after his time as coach of the France team, concluded by elimination in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup against the All Blacks, and a decade after his departure from Toulon, Saint-André had taken advantage of his good understanding with Mohed Altrad to find a coaching bench. The two men have known each other since the failed takeover attempt by the entrepreneur of the English club Gloucester, in the early 2000s, when the former player had begun his conversion. “In addition to his financial contribution, Mohed also gives a lot of his person, he is involved in the project which aims to give back space to the training center”, supports Philippe Saint-André.

A referee in the staff

If the group seems more solid in the game this season, certain weaknesses still surface. Like their setback in the European Cup against Leinster last January, the heaviest ever suffered by a tricolor club in the competition. To continue his recovery, the manager was able to count on a “very complementary staff”.

In addition to his two assistants Jean-Baptiste Élissalde and Olivier Azam, recently extended, like him, until 2025, the technician notably surrounded himself with the former referee Alexandre Ruiz. A reinforcement that is part of the new trend of clubs to attach the services of ex-whistle attendants. All the more effective as the Montpellier owed in part their defeat in 2018 to their too many faults, offering penalties to Castres who did not ask for so much.

“The MHR was a very penalized team, this is no longer the case. You also enter into the psychology of the referee. It helps the players to know what level of aggression to put, to better manage these interventions, ” explained this week to The Team former Hérault player Benjamin Fall, in the losing side four years ago.

But if the emotional parameter can finish making Montpellier look like the favorite, Friday evening, on the occasion of the last match of his career for Guilhem Guirado, Philippe Saint-André applies for his part to “be careful” so that victory, synonymous with the first shield of Brennus, like defeat, does not start again “the stability of the club” : We are creating a different story. So yes, recruitment is less flamboyant, but we take second division guys, who come for the sports project, people who are already good people. »


Tensions in the organizing committee of the Rugby World Cup

A survey published Wednesday, June 22 by The Team shed light on the deleterious climate reigning within the organizing committee of the next Rugby World Cup, which will take place in France at the start of the 2023 school year. The Ministry of Sports immediately contacted the labor inspectorate on the basis of“worrying factors” reported by the committee’s 70 employees. About fifteen members suffer, according to their testimony to the sports daily, a “management by terror”. “At the moment, at least six of them are off work, most of them for overwork, anxiety and depression…”, adds the newspaper, while” around twenty “ have already left their post.



US Open: first title for Medvedev and shattered dream for Djokovic

Things had started rather well for Novak Djokovic, greeted on his arrival on the court, Sunday, September 12, by a standing ovation from a public more used to pampering his two great rivals, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. His statement the day before the match (“I will play this match as if it was the last”) had tickled well, but the tennis planet seemed to be headed in the right direction. With in the stands the Australian Rod Laver, the last champion to have succeeded in 1969 the feat that the Serbian attempted on the New York court, to win the four grand slams in the same calendar year, nothing seemed to happen to him.

→ PORTRAIT. Winner at Roland-Garros, Djokovic on the road to the record

Wasn’t he still on 23 straight wins in the four majors? Had he not corrected his opponent and runner-up in the world rankings, in the final of the last Australian Open with a scathing (7-5, 6-2, 6-2)? And then, how could the Serb miss his chance to finally beat Federer and Nadal in the number of grand slams? The three masters are at 20 each and this New York final was to give him the opportunity to add one more trophy to his table and take a step ahead.

But opposite, the Russian, well advised by his French trainer Gilles Cervara, one of the best on the circuit, did not hear it that way. From the outset, he surprised the Serbian in his first serve game, taking the risk of serving his second ball at the speed of his first. An aggressive strategy also declined in the exchanges, where he never gave Djokovic time to settle in his final, nor to breathe, hitting winning shots with almost every ball.

Djokovic’s tears

Obviously, the young Russian who had let slip two finals against Nadal in New York and Djokovic in Melbourne by showing himself too borrowed and reverent vis-à-vis his prestigious opponents, had learned the lesson. “If I get there, I’ll probably be somewhere in the history books as having been the one who didn’t let him”, he stressed before the match in a statement that should have been listened to with more attention. Implacable, he never loosened either his teeth or the noose, making doubt with each ball a Serbian much more affected by the stake than he had wanted to let appear.

During the final change of sides in the third set, we even saw a few tears streaming down Djoko’s cheeks, which he again struggled to hold back during the speeches after the cup ceremony. Always great lord, the Serb warmly congratulated his opponent. “Congratulations to Daniil for his incredible game. If there is anyone who deserved to win this GrandSlam, it’s you. I wish you more Grand Slam victories and success in the future. “

The new generation begins to assert itself

Message received with a smile by the winner, first representative of what has been called the “nextgen” (next generation) to transform the essay, burning politeness to his two main rivals in this exercise, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev. “I’m very sorry for Novak, I can’t imagine what he must be feeling”, kindly let go of the winner after the game. Be reassured, the career of Novak Djokovic, 34, is far from over, unlike that of his two historical competitors Federer and Nadal, victims of repeated injuries and that we feel on the decline. The Serbian remains a solid number 1, winner of three grand slams this season.

But we had the feeling of witnessing a handover on the night of Sunday 12 to Monday 13 September. This historic victory for the 25-year-old Russian allows him to take the lead of a generation that has long awaited the opportunity to finally shake up the Big 3 (Nadal, Federer and Djokovic) which prevented him from growing up. The end of the season and the following one promise to be exciting, because these “little ones” are now playing in the big leagues. Stefanos Tsitsipas took two sets from the Serbian in the Roland Garros final and Alexander Zverev deprived him in Tokyo of another dream he cherished, the Olympic gold medal.



Tokyo Olympics: the Blues of volleyball, finally an Olympic title in their net

But who are they, these volleyball Blues who for ages have come out of incredible matches, play their competitions on the edge of the precipice, offer a farandole of contrary emotions? They have just planted the last point that gives them the Olympic title in Tokyo, this Saturday, August 7 after a fifth set on a volcano against the Russians, and it is one of the members of the young tricolor guard, Jean Patry, who ends up finding the words at the microphone of France Televisions by evoking “This team of mad people, crazy people, this big family! “.

→ FIND our file on the Tokyo Olympics

And these words really are not overused, because these twelve guys, their trainer Laurent Tillie and all the management, who for years have been pursuing a Grail that has long been inaccessible, form an incredible collective, with close links forged over time. , pitfalls and postponed games. This team is a bunch of friends, on and off the field, and this dimension is not for nothing in this accomplishment, this finally golden trip to Japan.

Forget the disappointment of Rio

They come from afar, these Blues, from nowhere even when, in 2012, Laurent Tillie agrees to take their destiny in hand. The former player, receiver and striker of a French team who had tasted his first Games in 1988 and 1992 (8th and 11th place then), must rebuild everything, put in the direction of the market a group which gradually lost since the bronze at the Worlds of 2002. Laurent Tillie will succeed in three years to give a soul to the Tricolores, and the transcended Blues will even succeed in 2015 on a cloud: European champions and winners of the World League.

→ READ The French handball team achieves a historic Olympic treble

A standing finally regained, but undoubtedly they saw themselves too beautiful these Blues inflated at the time of approaching Rio. The disappointment of a 9th place finish and a missed tournament was to weigh on their shoulders, and their results became a roller coaster. It was necessary to grow a little more, to solidify this common base. The four years since Rio have served this purpose: to unite, to further cement the friendships between the thirty-something Earvin Ngapeth or Jenia Grebennikov and the twenty-something Jean Patry or Barthélémy Chinenyeze.

A great reward for coach Laurent Tillie

Today they know each other by heart, and undoubtedly on the field are they the only ones to understand what they play. Their Olympic tournament is once again a great mystery, with a failed start, a rebound in the group stage with their backs to the wall, already against the Russians beaten for the first time (3 sets to 1), an exceptional quarter-final against the Poles at the end of an insane match (3 sets to 2), and a final started on the hats of wheels (2 sets 0), before a slack and an unexpected flashback in extremis.

For Laurent Tillie, it is the ultimate reward after a long quest, he who had decided to finish whatever happens his mission at the head of the Blues in Tokyo. “I have been running after these dreams for forty years, he blurted out before the final. It’s a great story, because it’s a little improbable to dream of playing an Olympic final at the end of the cycle ”.

Winning the title is an even more breathtaking finale. French volleyball, which has always assumed the role of the ugly duckling of French collective sport, without a shadow of a medal on its record, can now raise its head. Olympic Champions: These crazy people deserve it.

→ READ ALSO At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective



Football: Lille champion of France, a title on quicksand

They had their fate in hand. And they did not tremble, the Lille, at the time of raising the counters Sunday, May 23 for the last suspenseful day of Ligue 1. By winning in Angers (2-1), they offered their club the fourth league title in its history, after those of the boom years of the post-war period (1946 and 1954), and ten years after the last lift, on May 21, 2011 after a draw (2-2 ) against Paris-Saint-Germain.

This time, the duel was at a distance, and the people of Lille did their job, as usual, without even looking at what could be happening on the other sites, not even on the Brest side, where the storm was blowing away. the last Parisian hopes, 2-0 winners, but what good. With one point ahead (83 in total), the Lille stop the gleaming Parisian mechanics, and there is nothing to complain about.

They have shown themselves to be true to themselves: strong and efficient. They have only conceded three defeats this season, and have often won in decisive matches against their main rivals.

Christophe Galtier, major architect of success

Christophe Galtier can savor. “We are not a little champion, he commented after the meeting. We weren’t always very handsome, but we did it with our qualities, and a lot of heart ”. At 54 years old, the playing master, rewarded a few hours earlier by his peers with the UNFP trophy for best coach of the year (as in 2013 and 2019), is not for nothing in the success of his team.

It was he who applied himself to stay the course on the ground when the boat began to pitch at the end of 2020, preserving his troops from upheavals in the offices of the leaders. Because it is the Lille paradox: a sporting triumph the same year when the club changes president and principal investor.

→ PORTRAIT. Christophe Galtier, the quiet force of Lille

2020 actually ended with a thunderclap. After four years of governance, President Gérard Lopez, unable to repay his loans, was indeed forced to give up his apron and forced to sell by the investment fund Elliot Management which had enabled him to acquire the club at the start. 2017.

A new investment fund, Luxembourg’s Merlyn Partners, therefore took over, with 50 million euros in its suitcases and a new president, Olivier Létang, former sports director of PSG and president of Rennes until February 2020.

Where did the transfer money go?

Gérard Lopez is not the only one to pack up. The new management also decides to no longer work with the Portuguese Luis Campos, talent hunter at the origin of the recruitment and the composition of the workforce which is today the heyday of Lille, “Our architect”, praised Sunday evening Christophe Galtier.

Departures that still leave many questions unanswered today. Because the Lopez method, based on player trading (trading) has resulted in numerous sales (73 between 2017 and 2020 for 343 million euros) and as many purchases (75 for 218 million euros of expenses). The balance is amply positive, but the accounts of Lille nevertheless show a nasty deficit. Where did the transfer money go? It is one of the unknowns that remain.

The new management knows in any case that it is necessary to rebalance the accounts, undoubtedly find nearly 100 million euros to satisfy the National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG), the financial policeman of the Professional Football League. With 55 players in its workforce, it is imperative to reduce the payroll.

Big changes to be expected

The summer transfer window promises to be lively. Key players this season such as goalkeeper Mike Maignan, midfielder Jonathan Ikoné or the revelation in defense, Sven Botman, arouse the envy of some major European clubs. The major challenge will therefore be to let some nuggets go without cutting off the collective momentum. A challenge.

Especially since the main change should come from the major architect of success, Christophe Galtier. The coach certainly clarified on Sunday evening “To have made no decision” on his future. Very close to the old management, he nevertheless repeatedly said he was uncomfortable with the vagueness that still surrounds the project carried by new investors.

Will they be able to make him want to stay? Or are they already thinking of the arrival of Laurent Blanc, that the rumor likes to announce in Lille next season? Lille has just achieved a magnificent coup. Ensuring the aftermath of celebration will be another story.


Lyon at the foot of the podium

The last day did not spare the twists and turns. Especially on the side of Lyon, which for a time believed itself on the podium in Ligue 1, Monaco trampling on the side of Lens. But on arrival, Lyon was overtaken by Nice (2-3) and the draw (0-0) is therefore enough for Monaco to ensure a third qualifying place for the Champions League next year.

Lyon will have to be content with the Europa League along with Marseille, Rennes taking sixth place and therefore a ticket for the new European Cup, the Europa League Conference. At the bottom of the ranking, Nîmes and Dijon are relegated, and Nantes, beaten by Montpellier (1-2) will play the play-offs on May 27 and 30 against Toulouse.



Roland-Garros: 13th title for Rafael Nadal

And 13. Rafael Nadal outclassed Novak Djokovic in three sets 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to offer himself a thirteenth historic coronation at Roland Garros on Sunday and equal the record of twenty Grand Slam trophies set by Roger Federer.

Djokovic remains 17 major tournaments and takes his first loss of the year on a regular basis, the second after his shock disqualification at the US Open. He therefore did not become the first player of the Open era (since 1968) to have at least twice each of the four Grand Slam titles on his record.

Quality of play and physical strength

The Serbian was stifled from the start by the quality of play and the physical strength released by the Spaniard. Losing the first set without scoring a game, he only managed to raise his head in the third set. But this meager revolt did not follow to overflow Rafael Nadal who won the tournament without losing a single set.

The Mallorquin thus becomes the only player in history to have won 13 times in the same tournament, ahead of Martina Navratilova and her 12 victories in that of Chicago. He signs a 100e victory at the French Open for… two defeats and one forfeit in 16 participations.