After two months of respite, Ligue 1 will resume their rights. It is Olympique Lyonnais who opens the ball, on Friday July 5, by receiving promoted Ajaccio at the Groupama Stadium. Even if Paris Saint-Germain has a good chance of finishing top of the table once again, several contenders have expanded their squad in the off-season to disrupt Parisian hegemony.
The fight will also take place at the bottom of the table, as four teams will exceptionally be relegated at the end of the season. To see more clearly, franceinfo: sport offers you an overview of the forces present.
Favorite: Paris Saint-Germain
Unsurprisingly, PSG remain the heavy favorites to succeed themselves. Especially since the Parisians have been reinforced on all pitches by registering the arrival of three signings (Mukiele in defense, Vitinha in the middle and Ekitike in attack). This Paris should be very difficult to beat. “Everyone is focused on the Champions League, but first we have to do everything possible to win the three national trophies.” announced Christophe Galtier, his new coach. The Parisian harvest has already begun, on Saturday July 30, against FC Nantes, with victory (4-0) in the Champions Trophy in Tel Aviv.
However, this favorite status does not prevent the Parisian club from erasing all question marks. Paris, champions with a 15-point advantage over their runner-up Marseille, will evolve under Christophe Galtier, who has everything to prove in a club of this stature.
The other uncertainty will be the level of play of Lionel Messi. Last year, the brilliant Argentine had scored just six league goals and dished out 14 assists, far from his usual standards. The question of the offensive performance of the left-back (35), associated with Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, will be one of the great concerns of the former Stéphanois coach.
The outsiders: Marseille, Monaco, Rennes and Nice
Behind, there will be several who will fight for second place in the classification, synonymous with direct classification in the Champions League. Marseille and Monaco remain the two teams best equipped to do so. The Marseille club, which loaned international Boubacar Kamara to Aston Villa and its emblematic goalkeeper, Steve Mandanda (in Rennes), was active during this transfer window by bringing in several quality signings (Samuel Gigot, Jonathan Clauss, Luis Suárez, Chancel Mbemba). A new coach is also in charge of the Olympians, after the sensational departure of Jorge Sampaoli: the rigid Croatian Igor Tudor who finished ninth in Serie A with Hellas Verona. The Marseillais, immersed in the Champions League, will have to face the frenetic pace of the matches.
For its part, the club from La Roca, immersed in a real obstacle course in August to qualify for the European Cup, has been reinforced offensively in the preseason. already equipped with Wissam Ben Yedder, the second top scorer in Ligue 1 last season, and Kevin Volland, the Monaco striker scored the arrival of Takumi Minamino (Liverpool) and Breel Embolo (Borussia Mönchengladbach). Two tricks to compare with the departure of French international midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni to Real Madrid.
In seven preparatory matches, they have only won two against minor clubs: Cercle Brugge (1-0) and Portuguese club Portimonense (2-0). The draw (1-1) against PSV Eindhoven in the third preliminary round of the Champions League continued the movement. Philippe Clement, the coach, has no time to waste: in addition to qualifying for the play-offs, ASM will successively play Strasbourg, Rennes, Lens, Paris, Nice and then Lyon during the first seven days of L1.
In ambush behind these two large stables are Rennes and Nice. Stade Rennais (second-best attack last season) made a smart recruit (Arthur Theate and Steve Mandanda in particular) by filling in the two biggest weaknesses in their squad: the goalkeeping position and the orphan defense of Nayef Aguerd, who left for West Ham. The Niçois also have their card to play this season. With the return of Lucien Favre, the Swiss coach who led the OGC to third place in 2017, and the arrival of several new signings, including experienced internationals Aaron Ramsey and Kasper Schmeichel, Nice (2nd best defender) is full of arguments to claim a spot on the podium
Questions: Lyon and Lille
After their League title, Losc had a much more delicate 2021-2022 financial year. Inconstant, the residents of Lille ended up on the soft stomach, in an anonymous tenth place. But they start a new cycle, with the arrival of Paulo Fonseca and his offensive ideas on the bench. The Mastiffs have also recruited well-known recruits to Ligue 1 fans: Mohamed Bayo, Jonas Martin and Rémy Cabella. With the aim of looking for some continuity, and the top of the table.
Lyon, which remains in a disappointing 8th place, is the other great unknown before the start of the season. The club experienced 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, Lyonnais, who bet on experience and youth, will be able to focus mainly on the championship, and the goal of the top 3.
The bottom of the table: four relegated at the end of the season
The fight for maintenance promises to be especially difficult this season. Unlike the traditional three relegations, four teams will be sent back to Ligue 2 at the end of the season, to allow for the transition to 18 formations during the 2023-2024 financial year. A first since the 2000-2001 season. The places among the top sixteen in the standings will therefore be highly contested.
The challenge for the three promoted (Toulouse, Ajaccio and Auxerre) is greater. In order to maintain themselves, AC Ajaccio can count on their solid defense, AJ Auxerre with their resolutely offensive play and Toulouse with their solid team led by the right foot of the Dutchman Branco van den Boomen, chosen as the best player in Ligue 2 for the season. pass. .
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