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Is Ligue 1 more competitive than people think?

Paris Saint Germain are on course to regain the Ligue 1 title, but Lille’s triumph last season is a testament to the competitiveness and quality in depth in France’s top division that is not often talked about due to the concentration of wealth and expensive talent in the capital.

Fans reading the latest football betting stories will know that PSG are always the favourites to win no matter who they play domestically, which is expected due to the huge gulf in resources. Mauricio Pochettino’s side had a €500m budget at its disposal for this season, which dwarfs recently promoted Clermont’s €20m.

However, Ligue 1 is actually one of the most competitive top leagues in Europe, especially when PSG is taken out of the equation. Last season, only 36 points separated Lyon in fourth position and Nantes in the bottom three. The same is true this year as around seven or eight teams are still in with a shout of securing Champions League qualification.

Rennes are currently in fourth after a run of four successive victories, but Lyon in tenth place are only eight points behind, despite a recent humbling 4-2 home defeat to Rennes. Newly promoted sides are performing admirably too with both Clermont and Troyes currently above the relegation zone.

The lower end of the table promises to be competitive to the last day as Angers in 14th with 29 points are only three points clear of St-Etienne in 18th place. After a solid start to the campaign, Angers will be looking over their shoulder following five successive defeats, which includes their most recent 1-0 loss to mid-table Reims.

While Lionel Messi’s switch from Barcelona has been the biggest story in French football during the last 12 months, the Argentine has scored just two goals in the league thus far, while Neymar has also struggled. Kylian Mbappé is the only PSG player in the top 20 scorers in Ligue 1, but his 15 goals are matched by the impressive Wissam Ben Yedder at Monaco, while Gaëtan Laborde and Martine Terrier both have 14.

Marseille and Nice have also gone under the radar this season even though their strong performances have helped them to rise to 2nd and 3rd in the table, respectively. Even then, Nice’s early-season struggles highlight how any team in Ligue 1 can beat another on any given day. Christophe Galtier’s side’s first four losses all came against sides currently in the bottom half of the table.

PSG’s main rivals Marseille are currently their closest challengers and recently returned to winning ways with a confident 4-1 victory at Brest. While Jorge Sampaoli’s side are around 15 points adrift of PSG, the form of striker Arkadiusz Milik bodes well for the rest of the campaign. High scoring Rennes, whose 57 goals is only two shy of PSG, are also well set for a strong late run following their recent winning streak.

While Ligue 1 might not rival the Premier League in terms of high-quality teams challenging for the title and European honours, it is too easy to see that it boasts some of the best talent and most competitive matches on the continent.

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