After more than two months of hiatus, Ligue 1 returns this Friday night with a match between Lyon and Ajaccio as the opening of a season that promises to be exciting. That of confirmation after a joyous last year, but also of novelty, with the Autumn World Cup and the four relegations marking the passage from twenty to eighteen clubs. And always this same hope of seeing the game end up winning.
It is the end of weaning, and the beginning of a new adventure that we still know nothing about. After a 76-day hiatus, Ligue 1, France’s favorite soap opera, far ahead of all others, is back. In the heart of a summer dotted with over-analyzed friendly matches, after a painful and overly long transfer window like every year, the time has come to rediscover the thrill of the competition. This weekend must be the one of the first curiosities, the first sensations and the first too hasty conclusions, which also make up the charm of a story that must be written for ten months, hoping that the match will be taken this time with violence in the steps. . This must also be the season of confirmation, after an exceptional 2021-2022 harvest in terms of spectacle (1,067 goals scored, the highest total in 40 years), game and even suspense if we leave aside the easy coronation of PSG. The novelty, too, since the Autumn World Cup will interrupt the routine for more than a month, between November 13 and December 28, until the games scheduled during the usual Christmas break. That’s it for the agenda, place for the earth.
Paris and the ambitious
With just hours to go before the start of his new season, the French championship hadn’t seemed so exciting for a long time. Above and below, the debates should be exciting until the end. The first place, however, still seems reserved for Paris Saint-Germain, renewed at the end of spring, but still considered untouchable when it comes to designating the possible candidates for the title. In the speech, PSG have also chosen to adopt another method, perfectly embodied by the induction of Christophe Galtier as manager: Ligue 1 does not count for the butter. It remains to be seen whether the promise of finding a concerned team and a less chaotic collective will be fulfilled. Especially since behind the Parisian ogre, the ambitious have rarely been so numerous. Among them, AS Monaco, orphaned by Aurélien Tchouaméni, but with incredible dynamics before the cut, could be cut to tickle the reigning champion in the event of a slowdown in a season in which the Mondial will be the number one goal of the stars.
Rennes Stadium, 4me from last year, he has also changed just under a month before the transfer window closes, which seems like a good idea after an attractive season (101 goals scored in all competitions). OGC Nice, for its part, took advantage of Galtier’s departure to bring back Lucien Favre, whose first visit to the Côte d’Azur between 2016 and 2018 had left a good memory. Lille, crowned a year earlier, turned the page on Jocelyn Gourvennec to pass that Paulo Fonseca wanting to look for colors and a place in the top 6. The two Olympic Games have chosen to live a paradoxical summer: OM, runner-up – until PSG, said goodbye to Jorge Sampaoli and greeted Igor Tudor, already questioned by the Commanderie side, when OL preferred to keep their trust in Peter Bosz , despite an 8me historically disappointing place and an institutional revolution with the sale to a new American investor. An intriguing and uncertain picture, which should not ignore outsiders like Lens, Strasbourg or even other surprises capable of shaking the hierarchy dominated by the richest.
the game is worth it
The game remains the center of concern: after a period in which defensive strategies dominated in France (you had to be “strong” Y “solid” ), the search for beauty and the attack seems to have taken over. Some coaches from other countries are no strangers to this philosophical evolution, Marcelo Bielsa at the head, but it is also led by a new generation of French coaches, less locked into an already archaic model, led by Franck Haise (Lens), Julien Stéphan (Strasbourg ) or the newcomer Régis Le Bris (Lorient). Last season, teams that played often were rewarded, with ups and downs. That will also be the challenge of this 2022-2023 financial year, that of going from twenty to eighteen clubs, and therefore of the four direct relegations to the second division.
A distressing panorama for the teams destined to fight to stay in the top category, but also for the others, never safe from an accident, as the relegations of Bordeaux and Saint-Étienne demonstrated last May. Nantes and Montpellier, for example, can bite their nails. There will be emotions for everyone, as always for almost a century in the first division, from Troyes to Reims via Brest. The promoted ones (Toulouse, Ajaccio, Auxerre) that we want to (re)discover at the highest national level will also have their share of the cake. Ligue 1 belongs to them, to them like us, simple observers of their players, and that is why we find it every summer with undisguised pleasure.
By Clement Gavard