The rise of Benjamin Pavard

The former Lille man has achieved what most players never will: winning a World Cup. That’s just one thing crossed off the list on his long journey…

When was the first time you heard the name Benjamin Pavard? Most likely during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Before the tournament, the right-back wasn’t considered a superstar or even a top defender. All this changed in the course of one summer.

At the start of the 2017/18 season, if someone was asked to list a few top right-backs, what would they say? Most would go with Dani Alves, Joshua Kimmich, Dani Carvajal… but rarely anyone would mention Benjamin Pavard.

Only two years ago, the 22-year-old was hanging out with his friends in the public fan zone while watching the Euro 2016. The question is, how did the full-back rise to the top in such a short period of time?

Pavard has something very special in him that many players don’t have. He is an all-around player, he can attack, defend, and do just about anything. Many great full-backs lack this trait, for example, Marcelo. No doubt he is one of the best in the world when it comes to his position, but he tends to attack more than he defends.

This isn’t the only specialty the player has. Most players take years to prove themselves as top-class players, while Pavard did it in arguably the most difficult tournament of them all. He was one of the most important players in the French squad. His highlight of the tournament was his half-volley against Argentina.

His rise started in France, as he was playing for Lille. He grew up playing with the Ligue 1 side, he featured in their youth team, B team, and later on the first team. At professional level, he appeared for his club 25 times over the course of two seasons, but failed to score a goal or provide the team with any assists.

His not too great time at Lille came to an end in 2016, when he moved to Stuttgart for a fee of around €5 million. The German side saw potential in Pavard and decided to invest in the young talent. He started his time in Germany in the second division. He scored a goal and gave two assists in 21 appearances that season, and he went on to win the league. Believe it or not, the Bundesliga 2 title is the only trophy (though it’s not even considered a major title) Pavard has aside from the World Cup. So it can be said that the first and only major title he has is the World Cup trophy.

His first season playing in the Bundesliga saw him get the attention of the French national team. Although his statistics weren’t crazy, if you watch him on the field, you can tell he makes a huge difference.

Head coach of the French National Team, Didier Deschamps, should be recognized for the amazing plan that he had in mind. Before the World Cup started, if you would ask anyone to pick the squad for France, not many would say Pavard. Deschamps was able to pick out a promising talent and he helped him unlock his full potential.

Imagine Pavard wasn’t called up to the World Cup, who would recognize him as a top defender? The French coach guided him perfectly and set him on the right path to glory. The former Lille man has now achieved what most players never will: winning a World Cup. That’s one thing crossed off the list on his long journey.

Where will his next step be? He is currently still playing with Stuttgart, though a bidding war is expected to take place next summer as a move in January seems unlikely. Many reports claimed that Pavard has agreed to join Bayern at the end of the season, though the player himself confirmed that nothing has been agreed yet.

Mundo Deportivo claims that the Frenchman’s agent has offered him to FC Barcelona, and the move would cost the Blaugrana around €35 million. Some would think that Pavard is overrated, these claims are completely false.

The recent World Cup allowed Benjamin Pavard to discover his true potential which will lead him to a bright future. Be sure to remember the name.


Is Lionel Messi being treated unfairly by UEFA?

Many fans, especially Barcelona fans, believe UEFA lost credibility by excluding Lionel Messi from the Ballon d’Or top three. Marco Gerges takes a look at the Argentine’s situation…

Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer of all time. He has won a total of 33 trophies with FC Barcelona and has become the best ever to play in the blue and red stripes. Even though he is recognised as one of the best players in the world, he is also criticised, mostly because of his performances with his national team.

UEFA have decided to exclude him from the top three of their Best Player award. Some agree with the decision, whilst some think the decision was very wrong and disrespectful towards Messi. Many think the four-time Champions League winner is being treated unfairly by UEFA.

Although a great player, Messi has recently been falling short of rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has tied the Argentine on Ballon Dor’s. This year’s UEFA Best Player award went to Luka Modric, and Messi wasn’t even included in the top three.

Many fans feel that UEFA is being unfair towards Messi, they could have a case. Let’s compare statistics. Mohamed Salah had the best season of his career, catching the eye of fans and clubs from all around the world. The Egyptian scored 32 goals and gave 11 assists in 36 Premier League appearances. Salah was nominated in the top three for the award.

Salah’s amazing season just fell short of one of Messi’s ordinary seasons. Leo scored 34 goals and gave 12 assists in 36 LaLiga appearances. He achieved top goalscorer status and most assists, he finished the season with the league title, domestic cup, and the Super Cup.

Even after a great season, why didn’t UEFA bat an eye? Many believe UEFA are trying to pick the winner of the Best Player award based on a player’s performance in the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric won the competition, while Salah made it to the final and played very well. Modric had an advantage because of the World Cup, that’s why he won the prize.

Many fans, especially Barcelona fans think that UEFA lost their credibility after excluding Lionel Messi from the top three. The other candidates also had amazing seasons, but excluding the 5-time Ballon Dor winner from the top 3 wasn’t the correct decision.

The majority of the football community aren’t telling UEFA to give him the prize but to at least show respect to the player by ranking him in the top three for the prize. He had as good a season, or an even better season, than most of the players.

Messi has started the 2018/19 season on fire, scoring four goals and giving two assists in three LaLiga appearances. Now we have to wait until the new season ends to decide if UEFA have truly put Messi down, or if he will prove to them that they have made a mistake.

The clock ticks on José Mourinho and Manchester United

Only two games into the season, yet José Mourinho and Manchester United’s hopes are apparently hanging by a thread. Will they pull the trigger so early in the season? Or will they persist with Mourinho and his antics?

By Marco Gerges

José Mourinho’s job has been getting harder since he joined Manchester United back in May 2016. Of late, criticism has been on the increase with the Portuguese manager taking the Red Devils in the wrong direction.

The 55-year-old has seemingly lost his touch since coming to the red side of Manchester and the media believe his job is under major scrutiny. Things have been heating up around the coach especially since Sunday’s 3-2 defeat against Brighton. The result left Manchester United fans in shock after their side, who were expected to be title contenders, fell to a side only promoted to the Premier League last season. What makes the defeat even more embarrassing is that Manchester United’s squad is worth around £767 million, while their opponent’s squad was worth only around £108 million.

Mourinho is mostly criticized for his very defensive style of play, yet results aren’t showing that his tactics are effective. Instead of using such a defensive system, the United boss should take advantage of the quality players in his squad. He has some of the best attacking options in the league, world-class attackers that should compete at the top level.

Even though Mourinho has won four best manager awards, he’s struggling to make his mark at United as the fans are thirsty for their first league title in five years. Humiliation is likely to come his way as the media and some fans have gone against him, whilst results need to be more consistent.

Mourinho has only one way to save his job now, winning trophies and proving that he can beat the top clubs and fight for the league title. Even though fans would love a change in style of play, titles are still to be expected. Fans were delighted when Mourinho won the League Cup, Community Shield, and Europa League all in the same season. His tactics weren’t much different from the previous season, but he’s currently failing to bring the best out of his players.

The transfer market shouldn’t be an excuse. Since Mourinho took charge at Old Trafford, around £400 million has been spent. With that, he should now possess a side that can compete for and even win the league. With the UEFA Champions League starting in nearly a month, the former Real Madrid boss could face the sack if he fails to do well at domestic level during the run-up.

If Mourinho is to be sacked, the most likely and favourable replacement would be Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman won three Champions League titles in as many years with the Los Blancos. Even though he had a world class team with him, his tactics also led them to La Liga glory in the 2016/17 season.

Currently, the Manchester United board are still backing Mourinho, they believe he needs time to fully implement his tactics on the squad having seen World Cup duties hamper his pre-season preparation. Even after a rough start to the season, the Red Devils can still get to rivals Man City and other title contenders. They are still one of the favourites to win the title, though it will be very difficult, yet if the team performs well and if the coaches’ tactics are efficient, then why not?

Now there is one thing Mourinho should be cautious about this season; they are his rivals. His side might have had just one bad day against Brighton, but his defensive style of play will not be strong enough to stop attacking teams like Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, and maybe even Arsenal. He has the players to form a dangerous front three, but he seems reluctant let them off the leash. Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard has the potential to be a potent attacking front three, similar to Liverpool’s, with the ability to terrorise any defence it comes across. Add to the mix Paul Pogba’s mercurial, yet ever-inconsistent form, and the likes of Nemanja Matic and Fred – and Mourinho’s side has real potential.

Another flaw in the system is his defensive line. Even though he plays very defensive, his current back four have many problems. They are mostly unorganised, have problems communicating, and have difficulty tracking runs. Last Sunday wasn’t the only example of this, but also Vardy’s goal against United on match-day one. If Mourinho could solve these defensive problems, he might create a defence akin to his first two years at the club, where his side conceded only 29 in the 2016/17 Premier League and 28 last season.


The Portuguese coach is seemingly on borrowed time to resolve his problems. Being a coach at Man United isn’t easy, the club need someone that can push the team forward week in week out. The question now is, will the criticism get to him? He has been long criticised, especially for his defensive and abrasive management style. Nevertheless, this doesn’t seem to affect him and this could be good and bad for fans. He could be working on something big within his current system, or it means he’s just a bit stubborn and wants to keep playing the way.

Hopefully things get better for Manchester United for the sake of the fans as some are getting tired of Mourinho’s antics. Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, they are yet to find the right man to lead the club. Following consecutive failures with Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes, it currently looks like Jose Mourinho will join the list and United will need to search for yet another manager.

Now it’s only a matter of time before Mourinho’s future is decided. His next match is on Monday against Tottenham. This is the perfect opportunity to show the world that he has what it takes to take down top sides in the league. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side are serious title contenders, so they will give everything for what might be a season defining win.

Mourinho is currently in deep fire, with many believing he’ll be out of Old Trafford by Christmas. Yet it’s still the beginning of the season, many things can change throughout the campaign. Mourinho should really change his style of play as he has some of the best attacking options in England. By not doing so, his job is getting harder and his stubborn ways may eventually lead to an ugly ending for him in the North West.

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