We would like to tell ourselves that this new season of Ligue 1, which begins Friday August 9, does not feel the warmed up. But in this championship, which has found a new official partner, with a meal delivery company replacing a sofa seller, it is well the ogre of Paris-Saint-Germain, titled six times in seven seasons, which seems to be good for crunching, leaving only crumbs to his comrades.
As much as Thomas Tuchel's team did not shine last season. That is to say, according to her standards, that she won only the L1, leaving the Coupe de France to Rennes, the Coupe de la Ligue to the Strasburgers, without even mentioning the League of champions and the stint in the round of 16 against Manchester United.
Always so rich, reassured by the return of the Brazilian Leonardo as sports director, led by his flop of international stars, including Kylian Mâ € ™ BappÃ © (33 goals last season), Edinson Cavani (18 goals), or Neymar (which we still do not know if he will still be Parisian, or footballer, next season), the PSG starts the season with appetite, belly almost hollow, and spirit a bit revenge. And the Trophy of Champions won 2-1 against Rennes, on August 3, is a mise en bouche.
Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Saint-Etienne and Monaco in (dishes of) resistance
Once the question of the title is vacated, remain the race for the podium, and especially in the second place, synonymous with automatic qualification for the Champions League. The surprising dolphin Lille, who will play the prestigious Cup of Europe this year, will he have the means to remain competitive in the league? The club north had to wait for the transfer to Arsenal of his Ivorian striker Nicolas Pépé (22 goals, 11 assists last season), for some 80 million euros, the 1st August, to see more clearly in his transfer window.
Not really on his plate before the start of the championship with 3 wins in 7 games of preparation, the LOSC worries, and will bet on players in the making, as it has become the norm since the policy of Â "Trading" put in place by Luis Campos, like the Turkish Yusuf Yazici, the Nigerian Victor Osimhen, or the American Timothy Weah.
More active on the transfer market, Olympique Lyonnais, third last year, is hoping to snack on a better share of the cake. After the departure of their coach Bruno GenÃ © sio at the end of May, the Gones made their revolution in the fashion of auriverde, with the arrival of a Legend to the post of sports director – Juninho, best player in the history of the club – and a novice as coach, his compatriot Sylvinho. The duo have been separated from several key players, including Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Tanguy Ndombé (Tottenham) and Nabil Fekir (Betis Siena), but registered several reinforcements like Thiago Mendes (ex-Lille), Andersen (ex-Sampdoria) or Jean Lucas (ex-Santos).
On the financial side, the mercato des Gones is for the moment a success, with a record balance of 309 million euros in revenue (as of June 30). It remains to be seen what consequence this will have on the ground, and how the "mini-evolution" of the arrival of a foreign coach, in the words of Jean-Michel Aulas, will allow the Rhone club to pass a landing, or not. Even engaged in a season that will be forced to transition, the OL is a serious candidate for the 2e square.
The other Olympique, which has not contested the Champions League for six years, does not have a European competition to put in the tooth this year, rewarded with ™ A past season missed, and marked by the departure of Rudi Garcia. This fourth exercise of the Frank McCourt era is the opportunity to focus on the championship for the Marseillais who found their center-forward in the Argentine 29-year-old Dario Benedetto ( ex-Boca Junior, Argentina). Led by their new coach, Portugal's AndrÃ © Villas-Boas, they won the more or less honorary title of EA Ligue 1 Games this summer; a tournament that brought together OM, Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux and Montpellier, in the United States.
The task is more difficult but not impossible for Saint-Etienne, 5e last year. After the departure of Raphael Cabella (Krasnodar, Russia), and the record sale of the young William Saliba (30 million euros, in Arsenal, who lends it for the seasonâ € | Ã,Â Saint-Etienne), the Greens have a rather comfortable budget estimated at 100 million euros. Staying in this top 5 while competing in the Europa League will be a major challenge.
The other unknown, as big as his rock, is called AS Monaco. The addition could have been more salty for the club of the principality spent close to relegation last year. Since then, the ASM has chained the deci- sions on the transfer market, including the aborted arrival of the Portuguese AndrÃ © Silva, stalled at the medical visit, and made a mixed preparation. The Monaco have recorded four victories, including one against FC Porto (1-0), but also three defeats, including against Lokeren, a club second Belgian division.
Montpellier, Nice, or Rennes: who will be the surprise of the chef?
The future dolphin could also not be part of these teams. Last year the sensation was coming from Lille, the Dogues s' hoisted in the gratin of the L1 while the club had finished at 17e rank the season before.
Montpellier relies on a relatively stable workforce for a possible year of maturity. The club has registered few executive departures, apart from goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte (Monaco) and midfielder Ellyes Skhiri (Cologne). And the club has won the services of Téji Savanier, best passer of Ligue 1 last year with Nîmes, however absent for two months because of a right knee injury.
Rennes, who beat PSG in the final of the Coupe de France in April, a title that ended at the age of forty-eight years, seems deceived, and can confirm, even if the leaders of Benjamin departures AndrÃ © and Mexer, and even that of winger IsmaÃ¯la Sarr, risk weakening the balance.
Nice, seventh the previous season, is on the contrary in a contradictory situation. In the process of being bought by the British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, and therefore to move into another financial dimension, the Eagles are blocked until the transaction is concluded, which will not be the case before August 15th. Weakened by the departure of striker Allan Saint-Maximin in Newcastle, Patrick Vieira's men had a preparation that went sour, with 14 goals conceded in two friendly matches against Burnley (Premier League) and Wolfsburg (Bundesliga).
Brest, Metz and Dijon have their work cut out |
Among those who do not know what sauce they are going to eat are logically both promoted. Brest, absent from Ligue 1 since 2013, will rely heavily on GaÃ © tan Charbonnier, who scored 27 goals and 6 assists in Ligue 2 last year. After the departure of Jean-Marc Furlan, it is Olivier Dallâ € ™ Oglio who will lead the club in the maintenance challenge. A task that has succeeded the former coach of Dijon, craftsman of the climb in 2016 and keeping in the elite club.
L2 champion, FC Metz has kept his players, but the Messins may be lacking an experienced striker. It could be 24-year-old Senegalese Habib Diallo, but he will have to win to confirm his status, acquired at the lower echelon (26 goals in Ligue 2 last year) .
Another team that is likely to drink the cup, Dijon, saved in extremis at a roadblock against RC Lens in June, recorded nine starts. For his fifth season in Ligue 1, the club gave the keys to StÃ © phane Jobard which is the first position as a coach. Unless, like last season, AS Monaco came to play the hodgepodge in the bottom of this league 1 where everything seems uncertain, but possible.