Toulouse look to step out of the shadow cast by Paris Saint-Germain
The headline makers of the Ligue 1 campaign so far have been big spenders Paris Saint-Germain and their Swedish talisman, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
With the exception of maybe Elie Baup’s rejuvenated Marseille side, the rest of Ligue 1 lies in the shadow of Carlo Ancelotti’s Parisian giants.
But one club which has the potential to step out of that shadow is Toulouse. With a core of young, French talent, the southern French side are a team on the up.
Managed by former player Alain Casanova, the team from the Violet City sit in fourth place in the league, and in Wissam Ben Yedder, they can boast arguably one of the brightest young talents in French football . The 22-year-old, who has represented France at U-21 level despite being of Tunisian descent, has been in great form this season, scoring six times in eight appearances.
However, the 5ft 7in forward isn’t the only player flourishing in le Téfécé’s youthful squad. In France’s 1-1 draw away to world and European champions Spain last week in a 2014 World Cup qualifier, 23-year-old box-to-box midfielder Moussa Sissoko earned his fifth international cap - and his first for over a year - as he appeared as a second half substitute.
Like so many others over the years, Sissoko’s combative style has led to the comparison to midfield powerhouse Patrick Vieira.
Although comparing the Toulouse player to France’s former captain may seem a little premature, Sissoko’s attributes and playing style do indeed mirror that of Vieira, and his robust style gives Toulouse an authoritative presence in midfield.
Accompanying Sissoko in the middle of the park is fellow Frenchman Etienne Capoue. The 24-year-old defensive playmaker has come up through the ranks at Toulouse, has represented France at every age group, and scored for the senior team against Belarus in a 2014 World Cup qualifier back in September.
With the average age of the starting 11 selected in Ligue 1 fixtures this season being just over 23, Toulouse are a team that are, in theory, only going to get better.
Having taken over from Elie Baup in 2008, Casanova has engineered a side capable of reaching the higher echelons of the Ligue 1 table, but with youth, comes inconsistency.
A 4-0 victory away to Evian on Saturday would suggest Toulouse are a team in the ascendency, however, draws at home to Rennes and Valenciennes show that there is still work to be done before they are the finished article.
The toughest challenge for Toulouse and Casanova may be keeping the team together. If the manager can achieve that, Toulouse have the potential to challenge for the Ligue 1 title on a regular basis.
After forming in 1970, they have endured a period of limited success, with just three Ligue 2 titles sitting in their trophy cabinet. The team needs success, and if they continue to develop, some much needed silverware could be added to Toulouse’s bare trophy cabinet in the near future.
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