Lille pulled off a huge shock to deny Paris Saint-Germain the Ligue 1 title in France last season in what was the most intriguing title battle in Europe.
Monaco and Lyon were also involved in a four-way title tussle but it was Les Dogues who eventually prevailed, finishing one-point ahead of PSG as they claimed a 2-1 win over Angers on the final day of the season.
Dijon and Nimes dropped out of the top tier, while Nantes survived by the narrowest of margins as the away goals rule came to their rescue following a 2-2 draw with Toulouse in the relegation play-off.
Will this season be as exciting? No, Probably not – but we can always hope!
PSG are the overwhelming odds-on favourites to win the league so we’ve opted to look elsewhere for better value.
French Ligue 1 to win without PSG
Monaco at 4/1
Lille may have taken the top prize last season but following the exit of Christophe Galtier as boss we’re not expecting another league crown for LOSC. The champions have, perhaps surprisingly, managed to keep their squad largely intact but the exits of keeper Mike Maignan and midfielder Boubakary Soumare look like big blows.
Monaco flew under the radar a bit last season despite being involved in the title fight almost until the very end and we feel they have a real chance to finish best of the rest in the season ahead.
Les Monegasques have been fairly quiet in the summer transfer window but they have also managed to keep hold of their own best players, and in Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland they have some real quality in attack. The fight to finish second is likely to be a three-way fight between Monaco, Lyon and Lille, although Marseille could also come into contention, and we feel the Stade Louis II club can edge this battle.
French Ligue 1 bottom two finish
Brest at 2/1
Clermont and Troyes came up from Ligue 2 last season and are the two favourites to end up in the two automatic relegation spots, but both will feel they have the quality to survive.
Troyes dominated the second tier last season and finished with 77 points, while Clermont came in second with 72.
Clermont have also enjoyed an exceptional pre-season campaign with five wins and two draws from seven games. Les Lanciers have tested themselves against top flight opponents and have claimed friendly wins over Nantes, St Etienne, Montpellier and Troyes over the summer and we feel both the promoted clubs may be able to make strong starts to the new campaign coming off the back of successful seasons.
With that in mind, we’ve looked at last season’s strugglers for our relegation selection and Brest stand out. Les Pirates have perhaps pulled off a coup by capturing former Montpellier boss Michel der Zakarian as coach but they haven’t made any significant signings and have lost a few important players – with defender Romain Perraud joining Southampton and midfielder Jean Lucas’ loan coming to an end.
Brest managed just two wins in their final 13 league games and have been poor in pre-season with four defeats in six games, and we feel they could be set for a difficult season despite Der Zakarian’s arrival.
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