Friday 4th August will see the French Ligue 1 kick off for another nine months, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best in many years. Even though everyone expects Neymar (and the assorted other world class players in the squad) to lead PSG back to the championship title, a few other teams have been coming along nicely so upsets are sure to happen. Quite frankly even though the French Championship is often viewed as second rate compared to the English, Spanish, German and Italian top tiers, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be an exciting season. Let’s check out some of the major talking points about how this season may pan out.
1 | Neymar To PSG
At the time of writing the deal still needs to be signed but for all intents and purposes, that’s now a done deal. A staggering world record fee of €222m – well over twice the current record – will see the 25-year-old Brazilian superstar head to PSG and join up with other Brazilian aces such as Silva and Alves. Is he worth it? Of course not, buying him out of his contract is a crazy decision matched only with an estimated €650k weekly wage after tax! But PSG doesn’t care about that and are confident they can somehow force the transfer through/totally ignore Financial Fair Play rules.
The real question is will he prove capable of leading the club to the next level? He’s being bought primarily to enhance the clubs European ambitions, and last season he only scored a comparatively average 13 league goals for Barcelona. How much of a difference he’ll make in the league campaign is the big question.
2 | Will Monaco Sink Or Swim?
Last years Ligue 1 champions have had a peculiar summer. Whereas most champion winning clubs look to add players to their squad, the principality club (who still play in front of a mere 9000 fans on average) have instead sold most of the spine of last years roster, mostly for crazily inflated fees to English clubs. So far they’ve still held onto 18-year-old prodigy Kylian Mbappé, rightly regarded as one of the hottest properties in European football, but whether or not they can continue to do so for 4 more weeks until the summer transfer window shuts is open to question.
Monaco may well know all there is to understand about how to score in Vegas Palms online Football Star slot machine, but there’s certainly a chance they have over sold this summer when they ought to have been stocking up.
3 | Healthy Competition For Champions League Qualification
Most outsiders tend to assume the French top flight always ends PSG, Marseilles, and one of Lyon or Monaco but that’s actually far from the case. While we certainly expect all of these to be up there (with PSG likely to win the competition by March on paper), Bordeaux, Lille, and Nice have all made significant progress in recent seasons and feature more talent than they are usually given credit for. Any of these three could quite feasibly make a push for a Champions League place if they hit form, and you can bet at the very least they’ll have a strong say in who secures a second or third place.
4 | Relegation Rules Have Been Changed
Interestingly only the bottom two teams are automatically relegated this season, with the third from the drop instead playing off against the third placed team in Ligue 2. Outside of the top seven or eight teams mentioned so far the rest of the Ligue 1 clubs are much of a muchness; usually shorn of their best players each summer and instead just focussing upon a mid table finish. This makes it tricky to predict who could be facing the drop. As always the promoted clubs Metz, Nancy and Dijon are under-resourced and may as well be on a different planet to the likes of PSG and Monaco.
5 | A Few Players To Watch
This time last year few had heard of Kylian Mbappé – now he’s a global star! Obviously, all eyes will be on Neymar should the transfer be completed smoothly, but Mbappé will be just as interesting assuming he stays. Will it be a case of second season syndrome, or will he continue to develop at a staggering pace? Elsewhere attention will be on how Monaco get on without Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and Bernardo Silva, but with the highly rated young Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans coming in for a relative bargain 20 million Euro. It looks like exciting winger Thomas Lemar will be sticking around for another season at least – but it’s near certain he’ll be off next year assuming his form continues.
Elsewhere there’s plenty of pressure on Marseilles to find some consistency. Their talented forward line was remarkably unpredictable last season – and not always in a good way. The focus will be on Dimitri Payet to find his feet quickly in his first full season for the club, as well as ex Newcastle winger Florian Thauvin to maintain his impressive performances from last year.
6 | Wild Speculation!
So what can we expect from this Ligue 1 campaign? It’s shaping up to be a really good one especially if Neymar does arrive and Mbappé stays, but there’s plenty of other lesser known talents who could add some dash and flair to the season. I’ll go out on a leg and predict: PSG as clear cut champions, with Marseilles and Lyon squeezing Monaco out of the Champions League spots. Relegation is anyone’s guess but at least one of the three promoted clubs, with Nancy having the best chance of saving their skins.