Ligue 1, represented by Rennes and AS Saint-Etienne this season, is certainly out of the game for the Europa League, but not the French players. In any case not those who have left to try the adventure abroad. In the shadow of the Lacazette (Arsenal), Martial or Pogba (Manchester United) media, we thus discover a few Tricolores, some of whom have fallen into relative oblivion or are simply unknown in France. These 16th finals, whose return leg is played this Thursday, offer them the opportunity to (re) be talked about.
Greece and Turkey, home ports of ex-internationals
After two years in Turkey, Mathieu Valbuena (52 caps, 8 goals) is now playing at Olympiakos. At 35, the ex-Marseillais scored 8 goals with the Piraeus club. But facing Arsenal, the pace may seem a bit high ... (defeat 0-1 on the way)
Gaël Clichy's Başakşehir, defeated 3-1 in the first leg, waits firmly for Sporting Portugal at the Stade Fatih-Terim. At 34, the left back (20 selections in Blue), former of Arsenal and Manchester City, is undisputed holder in the Istanbul club since his arrival in 2017.
They flourish outside of France
In Başakşehir is also another name known to Ligue 1 fans: Enzo Crivelli (ex-Bordeaux, Bastia, Angers, Caen). With 12 goals to his credit, the native of Rouen is having fun in Turkey, alongside the ex-Brazilian prodigy Robinho.
Elisha Owusu, trained in Lyon, had been loaned to Sochaux last season before being sold to La Gantoise for 1 million euros (+ 20% on resale). The 22-year-old defensive midfielder is now living happy days in Belgium where he holds an indisputable position. He was also titular in the first leg during the defeat in Rome (1-0).
Among the four French CFR Cluj, only one participated in the first leg against Seville (1-1): Billel Omrani. The one who discovered Ligue 1 in the OM jersey in 2011 is now a player who counts in Romania, with 37 goals on the clock since his arrival in 2016.
Former Auxiliary defender Willy Boly has never lost his starting spot at Wolverhampton since his arrival in 2017. Passed by Braga and FC Porto, the 29-year-old is now at the top of his career in the 8th Premier League .
Like him, Evan Ndicka discovered the pro world in the Auxerre jersey (16 games). Recruited by Frankfurt, winner of Salzburg (4-1) on the outward journey, he holds the position of left back there. The other Frankfurt defense corridor is occupied by Almamy Touré (ex-Monaco), another French.
These ex-titis who shine far from Paris
Salzburg will however be able to count on the return of Antoine Bernede , the young midfielder (20 years old) who left PSG in 2019. He had been away from the pitch since September because of a broken tibia.
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Absent during the 2-1 victory in the first leg against Porto, Moussa Diaby should this time be in the eleven holder of Bayer Leverkusen this Thursday. In great form, the striker has scored 3 goals in his last 5 games.
Goalscorer Odsonne Edouard breaks everything in his path this season with Celtic Glasgow. Author of 24 goals in all competitions, no doubt that the ex-titi will still speak the powder to try to seal the qualification of his own against Copenhagen (1-1 in the first leg).
In Austria, Ismaël has fun on the bench
Since May 2019, the former defender from Strasbourg, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich Valérien Ismaël has been training in Linz (LASK), Austria. He had started his career on the bench in Germany, before going into exile in Greece at the Apollo Smyrnis, where he had resigned the day after his first match after being threatened by his president. He has now found his happiness with the current leader of the Austrian championship. The LASK, which receives AZ Alkmaar on Thursday in a favorable tie after its good result of the outward journey (1-1 away), had never participated in these round of 32.