Joey Barton: a year in Marseille

Marseille is home to one of the most successful clubs in France, a footballing establishment whose history transcends that of current giants Paris Saint-Germain, who’ve usurped Marseille’s throne in recent times. Their fans are passionate; their ultras even more so. But even they would have been taken aback when their club announced the loan signing…

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The obsession of Marcelo Bielsa

As featured on Guardian Sport With one brief, shocking press conference, he was gone. Marcelo Bielsa announced to the media at the Stade Vélodrome following Olympique Marseille’s 1-0 loss to Caen that he had stepped down as head coach. “I took my decision on Wednesday,” the coach told perplexed cluster of journalists. “I’ve finished my work here.…

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The epic life and legacy of Guy Roux

When Sir Alex Ferguson vacated the Old Trafford hot seat in May 2013, there was considerable concern among Manchester United fans about how the club would handle the transition. After all, Ferguson had been United’s only manager since 1986, an incredible 27-year stretch that brought 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues.…

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Red Star Paris: the other Parisian club

Talk about football in Paris and the conversation is likely to be dominated by Paris Saint-Germain after Les Rouge-et-Bleu completed a domestic treble last season. Laurent Blanc’s side are dominating French football at the moment while making impressive strides in the Champions League; it is difficult to see the Qatar-backed juggernaut being stopped given the club’s…

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The unfulfilled international career of David Ginola

November 17, 1993: 48,500 fans packed into the Parc des Princes, the majority of whom were expectant Frenchmen, preparing to celebrate their qualification for USA 94; a first at international football’s most prestigious tournament since 1986. They needed just a point against Bulgaria to secure second place, enough back then to qualify automatically. With the score…

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Deschamps, Desailly and dominance at Nantes

French football is experiencing something of a renaissance at the moment. Indeed, the presence of nouveau riche Ligue 1 sides Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco in the latter stages of the Champions League, coupled with emergence of likes of Varane, Griezmann, Pogba and Lacazette serves to evidence the obvious progression – both at grassroots level and in…

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Eric Cantona: the early French years

Like a raging bull who had just seen flashed of red, he charged over the advertising board and embedded his studs into the chest of Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons. It was the defining footballing image from the Premier League in the 1990s. An unspeakable incident that prompted endless media coverage, psychological analyses and protests from…

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A World of Ultras: Marseille

Welcome to Marseille, the second largest city in France and capital of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region. The Mediterranean coastal location is one of the nation’s most affluent cities and was named European City of Culture in 2013. It is also home to France’s longest-serving football ultras group: the Commando Ultra 84. For three decades,…

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Jean-François Larios: the man that France forgot

JEAN-FRANÇOIS LARIOS: laconically stylish footballer, indomitable presence and effortlessly cool in possession of the ball. An excellent penalty taker, he was the free moving but often deep-lying springboard of the late 1970s and early-80s AS Saint-Étienne midfield who allowed team-mates Johnny Rep and Michel Platini to maraud forward in search of goals at will. A man…

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