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There is something going on in the French Ligue 1, which has previously received less attention in comparison to other top European football leagues.

Paris Saint-Germain for instance has just spent €64 million to buy Napoli striker Edinson Cavani. This is the highest amount that has ever been payed for a transfer within the French League. Thanks to its rich Qatari owner PSG has made it from finishing 16th in 2008 to win Ligue 1 this year. No doubt that money had a significant impact on this outcome. This high-buying definitely increases the reputation of the French football league on the one side but on the other side clubs like Marseille or Nice will have problems to compete. We can wait in suspense for their performance next season and use the free Unibet promotional code.

However there is another club that draws the attention of the media lately – it’s AS Monaco. Owned by Dmitry Rybolovlev, a rich Russian businessmen, the club is going for top players this transfer window. Despite strong interest from Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid Rybolovlev managed to get the Columbian striker Radamel Falcao for over £50 million. Altogether the Russian billionaire has already spent £100 million to reach his goal to build a new football empire and has also signed other players like Ricardo Carvalho, Jeremy Toulalan and the Porto duo Joao Moutinho and James Rodrigue.. Taking into account these facts AS Monaco might be an equal competitor of Paris Saint-Germain next season.


Sunday night saw the end of the 2010/11 season in Ligue 1 and Andrew and Chris have recorded their last regular podcast of the season to discuss all the thrills and spills of the final days action.

After rounding up all the best action from Week 38 in Ligue 1 they then discuss some of the comings and going from the league. A look at who will be joining the league from Ligue 2 and doff a cap toward Les Bleus three international matches next week.

You can listen to the podcast here or if you right-click on that link, you can download the MP3.

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Throughout today ten French teams will battle it out for a place in the last eight of the Coupe de France. Last night the well fancied Stade Rennes were surprisingly dumped out by Ligue 2 side Reims. With the game poised at three all Rennes were awarded and missed two penalties, and of course then lost the game 4-3 in extra time.

Everyone likes a shock and last night’s was good but there is one team that everyone should be looking out for today. Sochaux after their fantastic 5-1 demolition of Rennes at the weekend make the daunting trip to the small town of Chambéry. Why “daunting” I hear you ask?

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Another talented writer makes his début on gibfootballshow. Euan Marshall originally from Glasgow and now a resident in South America uses his new found love of Latin football to tell Blackburn Rovers fans all about their new signing Mauro Formica.

Under ambitious new ownership and with some decent form under their belt, Blackburn Rovers have all the makings of a football club on the rise. To go along with the shrewd loan signings of Schalke 04′s Jermaine Jones and the returning Roque Santa Cruz, Blackburn have decided to go out and buy a South American attacking midfielder. They did not end up with Ronaldinho Gaúcho, but they have managed to sign an extremely exciting and promising young Argentine, Mauro Formica.

Formica’s recent form for Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina has generated a lot of buzz and interest throughout the football world. His 16 appearances and 2 goals in the 2010 Torneo Apertura attracted suitors from all over Europe, with Rubin Kazan, Galatasaray, Genoa, Blackburn Rovers and Monaco all looking to facilitate his move across the Atlantic. He looked certain to sign for Les Rouge et Blanc in France, but as Newell’s tried to squeeze more money out of the principality club, the move stalled. That was when Blackburn jumped in and made an improved offer which was swiftly accepted by Newell’s. Finally, “El Gato” (“the Cat”) agreed a contract with Rovers which will see him in Lancashire for the next three years.

A Newell’s boy born and bred, Mauro signed his first professional contract with la Lepra in 2006 when he was 18 years old. He has always been highly coveted at Newell’s, and after three years he broke into a regular first team place in the 2009/2010 season, managing 38 appearances and 8 goals in all competitions. However it was not until this season’s Apertura where 22 year-old Mauro really blossomed, becoming a key player in the Newell’s squad.

Formica hails from a nation notorious for hyping up their young talents, with several youngsters tipped to be reincarnations of national football heroes like Diego Maradona or Ariel Ortega. Unsurprisingly, Mauro has not been able to escape this, with several pundits dubbing him (inexplicably) the “new Batistuta”; however the more accurate comparison comes from Argentina’s neighbours Brazil, in the shape of Real Madrid’s Kaká.

Not only does he bear a truly startling physical resemblance to Kaká (everything except the 80s style mullet), Formica also has several similarities to the Brazilian in his playing style. Watching the way he drives at defences, with the ball appearing to stick to his boots, you would be forgiven for thinking you were watching a young Kaká. He skips past defenders in the same way that Kaká does, naturally and with pace.

However Formica isn’t just a dribbler, he has technique and flair in abundance, making him a fantastic player to watch. He has a tremendous passing range, a great first touch, he hits a great shot from distance, and he is able to pull off deft flicks, back-heels and nutmegs when the situation calls for it. Without trying to over-hype the 22-year old, he really does possess the skill set of a truly world class attacking midfielder.

Mauro Formica belongs to a generation of very talented Argentine footballers, and unfortunately for him this could seriously affect his chances of featuring for the national team in later years. Formica is a number 10, an attacking midfielder, what the Argentines refer to as an enganche, and he’s going to have some serious competition on the international scene. Already Ángel di María has made a name for himself at Real Madrid and has appeared several times at international level, furthermore two of the game’s most promising players will be desperate to fill the number 10 role; Javier Pastore of Palermo, and Erik Lamela of River Plate.

As I have mentioned earlier, Formica is a proper South American number 10. At Newell’s he played either behind two centre-forwards or as the left sided attacking midfielder in a 4-3-2-1. He serves as an excellent link between the midfield and attack, and is able to intuitively move into the right areas to receive the ball and then produce the killer pass. He has all the wonderful passing attributes of a great playmaker, and his equally wonderful dribbling skills mean he can go it alone if necessary and provide a different threat to opposing defences.

Certainly the main question regarding Formica’s move to Blackburn is whether he will be able to adapt and thrive in the Premier League. English football is certainly a very different game from what Formica is used to back home, the pace is much higher, with creative players not allowed much time on the ball, and overall the game is a much more physical affair. It is expected that Formica will need some time to adapt, and he may find it hard to make much of an impact between now and the end of the season.

Formica will be hoping to slot into a position similar to his number 10 role at Newell’s. He will have players like Morten Gamst Pedersen and Junior Hoilett to link up with in midfield, and two good forwards to aim at, fellow South American Roque Santa Cruz, and the Croatian Nikola Kalinić. A main part of his success at Newell’s was his excellent ability to link with players around him, so Formica will be hoping to develop the same rapport with his new Ewood Park team-mates.

With all of these qualities and obvious potential, Blackburn will be hoping that the introduction of Formica will bring some real South American class to their midfield to help their push for European qualification. How much of an immediate impact he will make is impossible to know, but with Formica’s style and talent we can be sure of plenty breathtaking moments from el Gato for years to come.

To read more of Euan’s work please have a look at his wonderful website “I like football me” and also catch him on twitter for all the goings on in Brazil and South America. Also soon to join the gibfootballshow podcast ;)


The FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in the world and third round weekend is that magical time where fans of lower league clubs hope and pray for “the magic of the cup”. There will usually be at least one cup upset, and fans either dream that their club can achieve the impossible or fans of big clubs hope just to advance and avoid any potential banana skins.

From watching any of the pre-Cup build up programs that have been shown on British television , you may not have realised but other countries do have cup competitions as well. Just across the channel in France they have a competition similar to the FA Cup, the Coupe Charles Simon or more commonly known as the Coupe de France.

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Guest writer Alan Temple looks at why David Goodwillie and Kenny Miller must give serious thought to any offers from abroad which come their way this January.


There is a real temptation to file Kenny Miller’s link to Fiorentina/Marseille and David Goodwillie’s supposed interest from Kaiserslautern firmly under ‘B.S. for Bullsh*t Scotland’; a folder which, incidentally, is already looking obscenely rotund following the insertion of Scott Brown to Inter Milan, Kris Boyd to Lazio and Adam Rooney to Kuban Krasnodar in recent weeks.

However, if there proves to be substance behind these links then it would be foolhardy for the two players to cast aside moves which could potentially shape and enhance the rest of their playing days, and their potential coaching careers beyond that, simply because they could earn more money in the sickeningly wealthy Barclay’s Premier League.

The list of Scottish players who have chosen moves abroad in recent years (for the sake of brevity let’s call ‘recent times’ the last 25 years) ahead of moves down south or to the Old Firm is a fairly short, yet illustrious, roll-call of talent – and the experiences gained, the good habits picked up and the new football philosophies awakened in some of these players should serve as a lure for Kenny and David to shake of this island mentality and broaden their horizons.

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Unfortunately I can’t keep up with the Le Beau Jeu podcasts but who knows what will happen in the New Year. My love for Ligue 1 has not gone though so without further a due, here I go with my Ligue 1 previews and predictions.

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Due to a very busy schedule gibfootballshow has not been able to provide Preview and Review podcasts. “Le Beau Jeu” has been on hold, hopefully it will be back shortly (Monday) to tide you French football lovers over till then, here’s a bit of a recap of all the goings on.

Brest remain top of the pile dispite their 3-1 defeat to Lille, the win moves the northerners to fifth, touching distance from the summit, to boost morale even more forward trio of Sow, Gervinho and Harzard got the goals. Romain Poyet scored Brest’s only goal his third in as many weeks.

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With less than 24 hours now until the transfer window closes agent and managers phones will be ringing off the hook as teams try and complete their squad before the clock reaches zero.

Tomorrow we can look for endless rumours of players in taxi’s and in airports, rumours of the world’s best moving teams only for Stoke’s 3rd choice keeper to move on loan to a team that won’t challenge, however we all love the Transfer Deadline Day and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have picked five players that are likely to either move or just spend the whole day being linked with various teams, by coincidence most of them have moved on deadline day in the past so they know what it’s all about.


Teams Linked – Stoke City, Tottenham, Liverpool

Unable to find a place in Monaco’s starting line-up again the Icelandic striker is looking for a move away from the principality, last year he move on loan to Spurs scoring 2 goals in 13 games, since his move away from Chelsea he has played for 3 clubs most successfully at Barcelona.

Questions remain over the quality the Bolton legend still has left in his legs, he has only managed 11 games for Monaco, Prince Albert’s team don’t exactly have a wealth of striking talent so for Eidur not being able to force his way in, might explain the ability he has left.

Would he fit into Stoke’s physical style, Roy Hodgson might see his versatility as an asset and an adequate substitute for Fernando Torres, or maybe Harry Redknapp will come back in and take him back to White Heart Lane.



Team Interested – Arsenal, Fulham, Celtic

Shay came out today and announced he would stay and fight for his place at City, Joe Hart’s form means Shay is poised to spend most of the season on the bench unless Hart drops a clanger or gets injured.

Man City have said that they would not sell to their rivals so Arsenal might be out of the running however do they really see Fulham as a rival, the addition of Given would not make them top 4 contenders, so a move to Fulham could be a very viable option, whether this would suit Shay or not is another question, with Stockdale out injured and Schwarzer looking likely to move on, a bid for Shay could be right up Mark Hughes street.

The other option on the table could be a return to his boyhood club Celtic, City would be keen meaning Shay would not return to haunt them in the Premier League and Shay would be guaranteed first team football, however the SPL is a drop in class, and without European football this season would he really enjoy life back in Glasgow.



Teams Interested – AC Milan, Barcelona, Fenerbahce

Not in Mancini’s plans Robinho is allowed to leave City, however they need to find a club with the money available to prize the once marquee signing away from Eastlands.

Last week AC Milan had no money and needed Genoa to buy Kevin-Prince Boateng for them, now they have completed a deal for Zlatan Ibrahimovich, a player in a similar situation to Robinho, the Swede had moved on loan, Milan agreed to pay 24 million Euros next season, maybe a similar deal could be made with City, would new coach Allegri really want Ibra, Robinho, Ronaldinho and Pato in the same team.

Rumours have surfaced again that Barcelona may be interested in a cut price deal, but with the recent documented money problems and the togetherness of the squad Robinho could disrupt the harmony at the Nou Camp.

Fenerbahce made an offer it, sources say it was accepted however Robinho refused the deal, maybe he is holding out for something bigger, as the deadline approaches if no deals are forthcoming would he settle for life in Istanbul



Teams Interested – Celtic, West Ham, Newcastle

Robbie moved to Celtic on the last deadline day in January money is on him moving again this deadline day, it seems his move is all down to if Redknapp brings in a striker, then Keane would be allowed to move.

Newcastle and West Ham would be head of the queue, both give different options, West Ham would mean he would stay in London where he is based, a move to the North East would make him an instant Geordie hero, and of course it’s another one of Keane’s boyhood clubs, whether either team has the money to buy Keane is another question.

Celtic would love to have Keane back, Lennon is thought to be on the lookout for a striker, a fee and medical done for Hibs Anthony Stokes, and surely he wouldn’t pass down the chance again to have Robbie Keane lead the line.



Teams Interested – Schalke, Tottenham

At Ajax he had the World at his feet, with 76 goals in his 4 years at the Amsterdam club, since leaving them he has played to two of the giants in football, Real Madrid and AC Milan, it has not worked at either, with a decent scoring record at both clubs, it seems he is just not the big name signing both sets of fans ever wanted, and with that Klaas has found himself on the bench more often that not.

Felix Magath has been searching for a striker all summer, and finally looks to have found his man, however with Luis Fabiano signing a new deal with Sevilla today, Redknapp’s targets have shifted and could be in line to try and steal the Dutchman from the Germans.

Both clubs would be ideal for Huntelaar now at 27 he needs to pick the right move, the wrong club again could be disastrous for his career.