Ligue 1 Focus – Blanc favourite to succeed Domenech

Laurent Blanc has this week been installed as the favourite to succeed current French Coach Raymond Domenech. The Bordeaux Coach has been pinpointed in the event of a potentially disastrous French World Cup campaign next summer in South Africa. The World Cup may not have started yet but the French Football Federation have already identified Blanc after a highly successful season with Les Girondins, winning the Ligue 1 Championship, la coupe de la Ligue and la Trophee des champions.

There is likely to be only more speculation if the current campaign goes as well for Bordeaux, with the FFF extremely keen to install Blanc as French Head Coach. The signs are certainly there for Bordeaux with the Ligue 1 side top of Le Championnat and already qualified for the next stage of the Champions League – with the highest points total of any other team in the group stages. In response to this, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has declared his interest in becoming manager of the French national team. He said: “I dream of having a mission like that. It is necessary to launch a commando mission. There is urgency. I am the vice-president of the Ligue. But I do not play a part in the French team and I regret it. I think I can bring an experience of 22 years of the professional world. I am a little offended.”

Le Mans this week have parted company with manager Paulo Duarte after a breakdown in relations after yet another club versus country row. The 41-year-old Portuguese Coach, who joined Le Mans in June, was simultaneously managing African nation Burkina Faso. Duarte had been committed to the role since last year and has subsequently guided the African side to next month’s African Cup of Nations. The row reached breaking point when the French Ligue 1 club demanded Duarte to remain in France during the African Cup of Nations to continue coaching the club. The demand would have been at the expense of Burkina Faso’s campaign in Angola and the Portuguese Coach duly refused, with the French club languishing in the relegation zone with only nine points.

Le Mans president Henri Legarda will feel he was left with no choice but to part company with a manager who has only been at the club since June. Legarda said: “We couldn’t, in our position, do without the presence and energy of the head coach of Le Mans for a whole month, even more so in January, a crucial month in the season.”

The French European contingent taking part in the next round of the Champions League has been completed with Marseille finally bowing out after a strong Real Madrid side defeated Les Phoceens in France. Marseille were faced with the near impossible task of defeating the Spanish giants 3-0 or by a four goal margin to progress to the next stage. OM were brushed aside by the Spanish side with Cristiano Ronaldo netting a brace and central defender Raul Albiol completing the scoring for Los Galacticos. Lucho Gonzalez had earlier cancelled out Ronaldo’s opener but it was all in vain as the French Ligue 1 side slipped into the Europa League in February.

Les Phoceens will therefore not be joining the highly impressive Bordeaux and Lyon in the next round. Bordeaux put out a second-string side and still managed to beat Maccabi Haifa, narrowly defeating the group’s bottom club 1-0. Lyon rounded off their group stage with a routine and accomplished 4-0 victory against the side with the worst defensive record in the competition, Debrecen. The Hungarian side had already conceded 15 goals before the final group stage match and Les Gones did not ease the pressure on Debrecen by firing four goals past the hapless visitors.

Both Lyon and Bordeaux are set to be rewarded for their Champions League exploits. By qualifying for the last 16 the Ligue 1 sides will receive over £11m. Bordeaux are in line to receive £13m, which is broken down into £3.4m for participation in the group stages. In addition Les Girondins are rewarded £500,000 for each of the six matches that they took part in with £725,000 for each victory. The final £2.7m is received for the qualification to the last 16.

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