Tag Archives: Ligue 1

How crucial could the signing of Thiago Silva be for Chelsea?

Brazil Centre Back Thiago Silva has officially joined Frank Lampard’s Chelsea on a one-year deal with a further option of 12 months.

The 35-year old follows the likes of Timo Werner, Hakin Zieych and Leicester’s Ben Chilwell to Stanford Bridge in what is proving to be a hugely successful transfer window for the Blues.

Following Champions League final disappointment for the Ligue 1 Champions, Paris Saint Germain, club captain Thiago Silva looks to have played his last game for the French side after his contract has expired and the Brazilian international is subsequently available on a free transfer.

Speaking following PSG’s 1-0 defeat to the German Champions Bayern Munich Silva said:

“It was my last game in Paris. I thank all for the fans for their love.  I will return to Paris and this club that I love in another role.”

Chelsea Manager Frank Lampard is believed to be a keen admirer of the centre back He has also spoken of the need to add someone who is more vocal at the back and Silva would certainly fit the criteria.

It is clear now that Lampard wants to add to his back line that shipped 79 goals across all competitions last season.  The West London side also conceded 54 league goals, which was more than any other top half side.

This is a record that will need to be improved upon if the Blues have designs on challenging the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League crown.

Despite Silva’s advancing age of 35, he will still add some much needed experience and leadership to Lampard’s defence.

Indeed, more experienced players such as German international Antonio Rudiger, who has struggled for both form and fitness during the last campaign.

Silva began his career in Brazil before spending a bit of time with the Porto B side for a year, from 2004-2005.  From their he moved to Russian club Dynamo Moscow for the 2005-06 season before spending a further three years back in Brazil with Fluminense (2006-09).

It was 2009 where Silva secured his big move to Italian giants, AC Milan where he spent three years at the Milan based club. In that time he managed to win the Serie A title in 2011 with the likes of Kaka and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the side.

From there, the Brazilian international moved to Paris in 2012, where he has gone on to win a further seven league titles, five French Cups and six French League Cups.

Silva has also earned 89 caps for Brazil, making his debut in 2008 and has recently won the 2019 Copa America.

This clearly demonstrates that Silva has that winning mentally and he certainly could provide Lampard’s side with the organisational skills that could help the Blues achieve further success.

Silva’s main strength is his passing accuracy, which was a staggering 95.45%, the highest in the Ligue 1 2019/20 season.

In the Champions League final, meanwhile, despite being on the losing side this was also clearly demonstrated having completed more passes (38) and having more touches (57) than any other teammate.  He was also successful at keeping one of Europe’s form strikers, Robert Lewandowski, quiet.

The big draw back with this signing, however, will clearly be Silva’s age and whether he has the ability to adjust to the physical demands of the Premier League week in and week out.

Overall, however, this potential signing for Chelsea has a relatively low element of risk due to it being a free transfer and it only being a one-year deal, if nothing else he could help aid the development of the Blue’s youngsters.

How has VAR affected football and can it be changed?

VAR. The three letters that have sparked the biggest debate in football, in particular the Premier League, and caused many fans to coin the question “Is it football anymore?” into the plethora of chants at their disposal. It has been widely covered by the press and pundits alike with many decisions being called as too close or even inconclusive. Fans have voiced their concerns over the time taken to make decisions and the lack of clarity about the system’s use while attending matches live.

Many will look to the other top European leagues (Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga) for examples of how to use it but even they have had seen similar problems. A common theme for each league has been teething issues. The Bundesliga introduced VAR in 2017 and had issues with the time taken to make decisions and the lack of clarity within stadiums (sound familiar?) but have allowed the implementation of screens to help offload the time taken.

Although they were overused at first, it seems as though the league has seen the positive impact of it now with hardly any controversy surrounding its decisions. Serie A and La Liga had exactly the same issues when VAR was introduced to them in 2018, slow decisions, fan frustration and general displeasure led to changes being made within each system. In La Liga they stuck true to the ‘clear and obvious’ rule (more on that later) where if a decision is too close or is taking too long, they simply forget it and move on. This allows for quicker and more legitimate calls to be made. Serie A had mixed issues when they changed their system from a local VAR referee to a team of people in a centralized location – like Stockley Park here. Whilst their system is generally a lot quicker they still have some issues with misinterpretation of decisions between the two teams of officials. Of course any level of human error is met with a lot of annoyance from fans. Ligue 1 is probably where it has been implemented the worst, and where it is most similar to the Premier League.

In an interview with the BBC Sport (2019) football writer Jeremy Docteur Stated:

“This season is even worse than last season. It is good when it changes obvious errors and it is fair if a player is offside by two or three metres.

“We are judging offsides badly. The point is not to overturn a goal if a player is one centimetre offside, they draw a line and rule out a goal if an armpit or chin is offside. Football is supposed to be a human sport, but there are huge stoppages and they are reviewing everything, including ridiculous calls for handball.

“I was never pro-VAR but it’s creating even more problems than before. They need to have a meeting and discuss this. A lot of players have come to to say it is not working well and we have to listen to the people actually playing the game.”

As you can see this strongly conforms with many people’s opinions here of how VAR works as a system. The question we must ask ourselves is, of course, has VAR changed football for the better? At the moment you would have to say yes for most of Europe, but for the Premier League and Ligue 1 it is certainly a resounding no. So how can they improve their systems?

We can first look at the phrase that has been branded about all campaign – “Clear and Obvious”. We’ve heard it so many times it’s almost second nature to us football fans to refer to it in any VAR discussions. Yet its continuous use still hasn’t made it any ‘clearer’ as to what it means (no pun intended). Another common theme is the lack of consistency in decision making and confusing rules that even the players sometimes don’t understand.

When looking at the Premier League there are almost too many decisions to count. Some of the most controversial being Pedro Neto’s disallowed goal against Liverpool when Jonny’s hand was judged to be an inch offside, or when Liverpool had a goal scratched off for a ‘foul’ on David De Gea by Virgil Van Dijk when it looked to be an obvious 50/50 aerial duel. You could even point out how VAR didn’t spot a clear foul on Gerard Deulofeu that denied Watford a penalty against Spurs early on in the season. The list itself could be an article.

The biggest issues surrounding the system are ones that need to be fixed ASAP if the controversy is to end. The offside rule has been reworked to the point where a fingernail could chalk off a goal, many fans and pundits have said it ruins the human aspect of the sport. The debate has raged on about how science and calculations is taking the integrity of football away.

This in mind, it would be worth looking at how La Liga used their system for ‘clear and obvious’ decisions. One suggestion has been to set a 30 – 45 second timer on decision making- if it cannot be figure out within the limit it shouldn’t be deemed as clear and obvious and we should let the game play on. It would certainly be worth trialling considering the positive effect this brisk nature of thinking has improved the fluidity of the game in Spain. The debate on offsides would also be simplified and I’m sure the players would appreciate a change in the rulings. After offsides we then have consistency, which in itself is a different beast all together. With VAR checks taking place in Stockley park having different officials at each stadium for each game it would certainly be a positive start. This could allow for better and quicker decision making as communication would be easier and of course the VAR officials would get a feel for the match. Italy’s Serie A  saw success with this method in their initial season with this system.

Another step for change would be getting more experienced referees to manage the decisions with VAR, rather than having younger referees do it. This one is pretty self-explanatory, we don’t want better/more experienced officials being swayed by inexperienced ones – it just doesn’t make any sense.

Finally we have monitors; fans have been crying out all season for monitors to be used pitch-side like in many other leagues. For some reason the Premier League didn’t start to implement this until towards the end of the current season pre-outbreak. A more consistent use would surely help referees and speed up the time taken. With the season due to return in less than a week it is paramount that there is a solid plan going forward. We are all eager to see the league return on the 17th June, however, fans could soon be reminded of what they didn’t miss should mistakes crop up again.

Overall, VAR has the potential to make a huge positive impact. As seen in Germany. Spain and Italy it has taken some time to get going but it appears they have gradually built a solid way of using VAR. The Champions and Europa League have also seen a more consistent use for it. Both Ligue 1 and in particular the Premier League some tweaks would certainly provide a much needed improvement for VAR going forward. For now we can only hope!