The FourFourTwo Season Preview 2015/16: Ligue 1
Defending Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain get the new campaign underway in Lille on Friday, and once again the big question is can anybody stop the juggernaut from the French capital?
Laurent Blanc’s men are chasing a fourth consecutive crown in Le Championnat and start the season as heavy favourites.
AS Monaco and Olympique Lyonnais have the ability to make life hard for Les Parisiens, but both will need to make fast starts if they are to avoid being left trailing in PSG’s wake.
Three reasons why this season will be ace...
1) Title contenders are stronger
Lyon were Ligue 1’s big success story last season as Hubert Fournier’s men pushed PSG in the title race until the last few weeks before ultimately falling away. The good news for Les Gones and those hoping the seven-time winners can repeat last term’s heroics is that OL have managed to keep last term's squad more or less intact.
Monaco are looking strong, too. Les Monegasques have had a busy summer, but Leonardo Jardim’s men have bought well with the money provided by some big name departures. The principality outfit continue to be France’s answer to Portuguese transfer masters FC Porto.
Unfortunately for Lyon and Monaco, PSG have not stood still. Les Parisiens look stronger this campaign, retaining key players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and coveted deep-lying playmaker Marco Verratti, and OL will hope their 2-0 Trophee des Champions defeat is not a sign the gulf has widened.
2) You can expect the unexpected
Despite Paris Saint-Germain's three consecutive Ligue 1 crowns and the first-ever domestic clean sweep last season, there is still a large amount of unpredictability in the French top flight.
Teams will try as hard as they can to compete with the champions, but the battle for Champions League and Europa League qualification will be fierce, while the relegation dogfight is always keenly contested.
Unfortunately for Lyon and Monaco, PSG have not stood still
Le Championnat’s reputation as a league where anyone can beat anyone is largely still true, and with continental competition making domestic life hard for some sides, expect to see some unfamiliar faces in the European places. Add in the customary emergence of the latest top young talents and there are the makings of an exciting Ligue 1 season outside of PSG.
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3) There's Euro 2016 excitement
The European Championship will be held in France next summer and this season will witness the country make its final preparations for the big event. New and refurbished stadiums will be unveiled or completed, making games more of a spectacle, and despite not being renowned for being a “football country,” France will likely be gripped by Euro 2016 fever come the start of next year as the big kick-off edges closer.