The new Ligue 1 season is set to kick off this week, so we cast our eye over what to expect in the campaign ahead.
PSG still the team to beat
PSG have dominated Ligue 1 for quite some time now and they will be eager to begin their title defence under new coach Thomas Tuchel. Their roster is just as strong as it was last season, if anything, they have added experience in the goalkeeping department with the addition of Gianluigi Buffon. They won the last campaign with five games to spare and were 13 points ahead of Monaco. We saw what they are capable of in their 4-0 win against Monaco in the French Super Cup and we should expect more of the same going forward.
Monaco, Lyon, and Marseille are considered the closest rivals to the Parisians and all of them have been busy in the transfer market. The three formed a cluster just behind the leaders last term and there is very little to separate these sides from each other. They are all considerably weaker compared to PSG but we should not be surprised if one of them stepped up, as was the case with Monaco two years ago. The race for the two Champions League spots will also be amongst the three and this should make for an interesting spectacle.
Key men to watch
Kylian Mbappe will no doubt be a key player during this campaign especially after winning the World Cup. His teammate Neymar will also be keenly watched as the two forwards have continued to prove that they are a class above the rest. Mbappe’s first season saw him score a respectable 13 goals whilst making seven assists. He is still very young and this could be the season that will see him win the Ballon d’Or
Patrick Vieira will also be debuting his first season in Ligue 1 with his new club Nice. He has been involved in the MLS where he coached New York City FC since 2016. This will be his first major assignment in a European league and who knows, this could be the role that will land him a big move as manager.
Finally, a number of new players have joined the league this season due to the activity of some clubs in the transfer market. One of those players is Alexander Golovin, who joined Monaco from CSKA Moscow. He was outstanding for Russia in the World Cup and he will be out to make a name for himself.
The relegation battle
Amiens were very strong last season after finishing 13th in the table with 45 points. Things might not look as easy this time around considering that they lost their talismanic playmaker Gael Kakuta who has since joined Hebei China Fortune. There is also a genuine concern of lack of quality in the other areas, something that will complicate their chances of remaining on top.
Similarly, Caen survived the drop last season by just one point. The situation could have worsened with the departure of their former manager Patrice Garande. He had been in charge for six years and he will be replaced by the inexperienced Fabien Mercadal. They have also lost a good number of the players they had last season leaving them exposed ahead of the new campaign.