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Reims were in Ligue 2 last season. Now they are dreaming of Europe

first_imgPosTeamPGDPts The in-form young footballers in 2019 4St Etienne26543 Dingomé is not the only player who has looked revitalised in recent weeks, though. Mathieu Cafaro and Rémi Oudin have also come into their own. Cafaro, who missed the match this weekend through injury, has shown an immature side in the past; Toulouse let him go after an incident involving an airgun. However, he has reinvented himself after being on the periphery last season, playing both centrally and on the left and showing a high level of dynamism and also establishing himself as one of the league’s better players at set pieces. Even with Doumbia now fit again, Cafaro looks set to keep his place – no small redemption given his situation two years ago.Oudin, though, has really stolen the show of late; a brace on Sunday pushed his total for the season to eight goals in the league. He has now scored seven in all competitions in 2019 alone. Played wide on the right for much of the current campaign, the 22-year-old is really more of a central striker, but his versatility and blend of goals and assists are proving influential.The club have also added the intriguing Kosovan attacker Arbër Zeneli and now have an almost embarrassing wealth of young attack talent at their disposal, seeing them well set up to continue to push the likes of Marseille and Saint-Étienne for the top six. Not only can Reims fans take heart from their good recent run of form, but their next three matches before the international break – against Amiens, Dijon and Nantes – all look eminently winnable.While Lille and PSG (in the final match of the season) are also yet to come, there is every hope (barring injury) that this tilt at Europe can be sustained. Some fans will be wary of being presumptuous – they also flirted with Europe for much of 2013-14 before falling away late on under Hubert Fournier – but that side had a negative goal difference for much of the season. This team looks far better built for the battle ahead.Ligue 1 talking points Things are looking up for Monaco. Photograph: Valéry Hache/AFP/Getty Images Twitter Topics French football has thrown up plenty of surprises this season, remaining a compelling if not entirely competitive spectacle. Monaco’s dalliance with Thierry Henry captured the imagination. Lille and the individual brilliance of Nicolas Pépé have offered a major plot line. The sad death of Emiliano Sala has captured the hearts of fans. And Patrick Vieira’s turn at Nice has been intriguing. But an even more surprising narrative may be developing: Reims as European contenders.The newly promoted club started the season brightly, winning their first two matches, but then they slumped badly, failing to win any of their next eight. Last summer they lost Jordan Siebatcheu and the massively influential Diego Rigonato, who was crowned Ligue 2 Player of the Year last season, and it looked as if they had failed to replace the pair adequately. They did sign attacking left-back Ghislain Konan for a club record fee and winger Moussa Doumbia, but almost all their other signings were simply unproven in the top flight.They remained competitive in most matches in Ligue 1, however, thanks to their defence. Édouard Mendy was influential in goal and Björn Engels formed a promising partnership with Yunis Abdelhamid at the heart of defence. They had the best defensive record in Ligue 2 last season, but they also won the division by playing on the front foot. With the team struggling to step up to the top flight, their style hardly evocative of the Champagne region; indeed, at the turn of the year only Nice had scored fewer goals in the league.To say things have changed since the beginning of 2019 would be an understatement. Only Lille and PSG have found the back of the net more often this year. After their latest success – a 4-2 win in Montpellier on Sunday (against a side who had conceded just nine times at home) – Reims are now unbeaten in 10 matches, a streak bettered only by Barcelona and Juventus across Europe’s top five leagues. They are now up to sixth and that rise is largely down to principled improvements to their attacking play.Principled is here the key word; with only 24 goals conceded, Reims still have the third best defensive record in the league and Mendy’s tally of 11 clean sheets is the best. In central midfield, the hard-tackling Alaixys Romao continues to partner Xavier Chavalerin, a slightly more forward-thinking player but one who is also more at ease breaking up play than creating it. They may lack poetry, but their doggedness keeps Reims solid.Reims’ recent run of good results coincides with an upturn in form from Tristan Dingomé, who was signed on the cheap from Troyes last summer but struggled earlier in the campaign as he was slowly recovering from a cruciate injury. Dingomé, a box-to-box midfielder with a good eye for a pass, did not have much impact during the lean run in the autumn but he is now fully fit and an automatic starter. Share on LinkedIn 7Montpellier26638 Ligue 1 Hide Monaco Share on Facebook 15Toulouse26-1228 11Nimes26-136 17Amiens26-2024 13Bordeaux26-232 • With a third of the season still to play, the situation at the bottom is starting to coalesce. Nantes, whose fans continue to pay tribute to Emiliano Sala during the ninth minute of every game, had a good weekend. They beat Bordeaux 1-0 in the Atlantic Derby to go 10 points clear of the relegation zone. Amiens also nabbed a 1-0 win – beating Nice on Saturday – and they have striker Moussa Konaté (who scored 13 league goals last season) back from injury to play alongside Saman Ghoddos. That delicious pairing should provide them with enough firepower to survive. Monaco picked up their third win in four games when they beat Lyon on Sunday night. With Leonardo Jardim back in charge and Cesc Fàbregas, Adrien Silva and the in-form Gelson Martins on board, they will not be hanging around in the bottom half for long.• Then there a sides who are seriously in trouble: Guingamp have yet to show sufficient consistency or quality since the return of manager Jocelyn Gourvennec, who previously led the club to silverware and European football. They beat Angers on Saturday but remain bottom. If they beat Strasbourg in the Coupe de la Ligue final next month, they will be back in Europe. Caen, meanwhile, were seconds away from three crucial points this weekend before Max-Alain Gradel again rescued Toulouse in injury time. Dijon, who have already appointed the respected Antoine Kombouaré, will hope to combine the residual attacking cohesion left from Oliver Dall’Oglio’s freewheeling side of last season and Kombouaré’s stoicism and know-how to stay up. But another defeat this weekend means they are in the same boat as Caen and Guingamp. Time is growing short and their list of rivals shorter. Ligue 2 looms.Ligue 1 results Share on Twitter Quick guide Ligue 1 results Thank you for your feedback. Share on Messenger 3Lyon261046 8Strasbourg261137 9Rennes26137 10Nice26-837 Facebook 6Reims26341 Montpellier 2-4 ReimsNantes 1-0 BordeauxToulouse 1-1 CaenRennes 1-1 MarseilleMonaco 2-0 LyonPSG 3-0 NimesAmiens 1-0 NiceGuingamp 1-0 AngersDijon 0-1 St EtienneStrasbourg 1-1 Lille 14Nantes26-330 12Angers26033 Was this helpful? Ligue 1 table Share via Email European club football 18Caen26-1320 Share on WhatsApp Reims Guardian Sport Network 5Marseille26641 16Monaco26-1525 Share on Pinterest 1PSG256368 features Montpellier Read more 2Lille262051 Pinterest 20Guingamp26-3218 Show 19Dijon25-1920 Reuse this contentlast_img

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