Tag Archive: Lille OSC

Bright talent | Joe Cole was a footballing prodigy, but his career of late has been mired with disappointment and a lack of first team opportunities at Liverpool. (Image | Daily Mail)

At the age of 16, Joe Cole was the hottest property in English football, drawing comparisons with the majestic Paul Gascoigne. Now, at 30-years-old, Cole is entering the twilight of his career. It seems as though the coming season could prove to be his most important yet.

Having joined Liverpool on a free transfer in July 2010, Cole failed to produce the form that made him an England regular at Chelsea and West Ham United. Then, upon the advent of Kenny Dalglish at the Liverpool helm, the winger fell out of favour. However, after a successful loan spell at French club Lille OSC, new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given Cole a final chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

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New order | Borussia Dortmund are just one side to have overcome the traditional “powerhouse” of their respective league, Bayern Munich, and boast some of the brightest young talents in Europe. (Image | Sport Live)

There has been one very evident trend in the 2011-12 football season. European football’s major powers, the teams that you would expect to win their respective league titles, the ones who you would regard as bankers for your betting accumulators, had – by their standards – a fallow season.

Despite winning four trophies, there was a general feeling of ennui around Barcelona. Certain players were felt to have become rather too comfortable by recent successes. Pep Guardiola tried – with mixed success – to integrate new signings, Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, into the team. The next evolution for what some had declared the greatest side the game had ever seen hit a roadblock. Run down by a formidable Real Madrid, Barca failed to win La Liga for the first time in three seasons. They also found themselves in a supporting role to Chelsea’s extraordinary Champions League story.

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Montpellier’s first ever league title was secured thanks to a double from John Utaka, on a day where anything but a loss would do. (Image | French Football Weekly)

Montpellier HSC are the new champions of French football after a 2-1 win over relegated AJ Auxerre. The club’s first ever top flight trophy came courtesy of a double from former Portsmouth winger John Utaka, after the Stade de l’Abbé-Deschamps outfit took the lead through Olivier Kapo, another ex-Premier League player plying his trade in Ligue 1.

René Girard’s side became the fifth different club to lift the Ligue 1 trophy since the 2006-2007 season, in what could be taken as both an indication of competitiveness in French football, and a lack of any particularly strong title contender. They were pushed all the way by Paris St. Germain (PSG), however. PSG became one of the richest clubs in the world when the Qatar Investment Authority became their major shareholders in the summer of 2011. A great deal of money was spent, particularly on Javier Pastore, with the intention of making PSG the new “force” in Ligue 1, but after the final day’s action a full three points separated Carlo Ancelotti’s side from the much-craved title.

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