After a two-month break, Ligue 1 will resume its rights. Olympique Lyonnais opens the ball, Friday July 5, by receiving the promoted Ajaccio at the Groupama Stadium. Although Paris Saint-Germain has a good chance to finish in the top ranking once again, several contenders have expanded their squad in the off-season to disrupt Paris’ hegemony.
The battle will also take place at the bottom of the table, as four teams will be exceptionally relegated at the end of the season. To see more clearly, franceinfo: sport offers you an insight into the forces at hand.
Favorite: Paris Saint-Germain
Unsurprisingly, PSG remain huge favorites to succeed themselves. Especially since the Parisians have strengthened all areas of play by recording the arrival of three recruits (Mukiele in defense, Vitinha in the middle and Ekitike in attack). This Paris is very hard to beat. “Everyone is focused on the Champions League but first we have to do everything to win three national trophies. announced Christophe Galtier, his new coach. The harvest in Paris has begun, Saturday July 30, against FC Nantes, with the victory (4-0) in the Champions Trophy in Tel Aviv.
However, this favorite status did not prevent the Paris club from erasing all questions. Paris, champions with 15 points ahead of runner-up Marseille, will improve under the command of Christophe Galtier, who has everything to prove at a club of this size.
Another uncertainty is the level of play shown by Lionel Messi. Last year, the brilliant Argentinian scored just six goals in the league and provided 14 assists, far from his usual standards. The question of the offensive performance of the left hand (35), who joins Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, will be one of the major concerns of the former coach of Stéphanois.
Outsiders: Marseille, Monaco, Rennes and Nice
At the back, they will have a lot to fight for second place in the standings, equal to direct qualification to the Champions League. Marseille and Monaco remain the two teams best equipped to achieve this. The Marseille club, which released the international Boubacar Kamara to Aston Villa and its emblematic goalkeeper, Steve Mandanda (of Rennes), was active during this transfer window by enlisting many quality recruits (Samuel Gigot, Jonathan Clauss, Luis Suarez, Chancel Mbemba). A new coach is also in charge of the Olympians, after the shocking departure of Jorge Sampaoli: the strict Croatian Igor Tudor who finished ninth in Serie A with Hellas Verona. The Marseillais, taking part in the Champions League, will have to deal with a fast pace of matches.
For its part, the Rock club, which took part in a real obstacle course in August to qualify for the European Cup, strengthened its offensive in the off-season. Already equipped with Wissam Ben Yedder, second top scorer in Ligue 1 last season, and Kevin Volland, Monaco’s attack recorded the arrival of Takumi Minamino (Liverpool) and Breel Embolo (Borussia Mönchengladbach). Two assets to compare with the departure of French international midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni to Real Madrid.
In seven preparatory games, they only won two against minor clubs: Cercle Brugge (1-0) and Portimonense club of Portimonense (2-0). The draw (1-1) against PSV Eindhoven in the third preliminary round of the Champions League continues the action. Philippe Clement, the coach, has no time to lose: in addition to qualifying for the play-offs, ASM will play consecutively in Strasbourg, Rennes, Lens, Paris, Nice and Lyon during the first seven days of L1.
In ambush behind these two big stables are Rennes and Nice. Stade Rennais (second best attack last season) made intelligent recruitment (Arthur Theate and Steve Mandanda in particular) by filling the two biggest weaknesses in its workforce: the position of goalkeeper and the orphan defense of Nayef Aguerd, who left West Ham. Niçoi also have their card to play this season. With the return of Lucien Favre, the Swiss coach who took the OGC to third place in 2017, and the arrival of several recruits, including experienced internationals Aaron Ramsey and Kasper Schmeichel, Nice (2nd which is the best defense) full of arguments to claim a place on the podium.
Questions: Lyon and Lille
After their league title, Losc will have a very dangerous exercise in 2021-2022. Without stopping, the residents of Lille finished with a soft stomach, in an unknown 10th place. But they started a new cycle, with the arrival of Paulo Fonseca and his offensive ideas on the bench. The Mastiffs also recruited recruits well known to Ligue 1 fans: Mohamed Bayo, Jonas Martin, and Rémy Cabella. With the goal of finding a specific continuation, and on the table.
Lyon, who remain in a disappointing 8th place, are another big question mark before the start of the season. The club has had a turbulent summer behind the scenes, with the arrival of John Textor as a new shareholder, and in terms of the transfer window, the return of former Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso. With a lighter calendar without the European Cup, the Lyonnais, relying on experience and youth, can focus primarily on the championship, and the goal of the top 3.
Bottom of the table: four relegated at the end of the season
The fight for maintenance promises to be tougher this season. Unlike the three traditional relegations, four teams will be sent to Ligue 2 at the end of the season, to allow the transfer of 18 formations during the financial year 2023-2024. A first since the 2000-2001 season. So the places among the first sixteen in the classification are hotly contested.
The challenge for the three promoted (Toulouse, Ajaccio and Auxerre) is enormous. To be successful in self-maintenance, AC Ajaccio can rely on its strong defense, AJ Auxerre on its determined offensive game and Toulouse on its strong collective led by the right foot of the Dutchman Branco van den Boomen , voted the best player in Ligue 2. last season.