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French Ligue 1 Preview

The French Ligue 1 kicks off this weekend with PSG travelling to Bastia.
PSG will be looking to continue their dominance of Ligue 1 with the French league starting this weekend.
Fans of the beautiful game will be thrilled to see the back of pre-season and move on to the competitive stuff. Two of Europe's big leagues get underway this coming weekend and while the majority of the focus will be on the English Premier League, the French Ligue 1 is also set to get underway.

PSG will be looking to continue their recent dominance of Ligue 1 by adding a fifth consecutive title to their already swollen trophy cabinet. They begin this quest with an away trip to Bastia on Friday evening.

Friday 12 August

6/1 Bastia | Draw 33/10 | PSG 9/20 (20:00)

PSG begin the post-Zlatan era with an away trip to last year’s 10th-place finishers Bastia. The club from the island of Corsica gave a decent account of themselves last season winning 14 and drawing eight of their 38 fixtures. They struggled against PSG last season, however, losing both ties 2-0.

Despite their Swedish demi-god having moved on to Manchester United, I still think this PSG side will be able to see of Bastia with little difficulty. Get on the Parisians to clear a -1 Handicap at 12/10.

6/10 Monaco | 28/10 | Guingamp 9/2 (20:30)

Friday’s final fixture sees Monaco take on Guingamp at the Stade Louis II. Les Rouges et Blanc enjoyed a stellar season last year finishing third. Their opponents for this Friday had a much tougher time of it last year just managing to stave off relegation by five points.

This could prove to be a rather high scoring affair if last season’s results between the two sides are anything to go by. A total of 11 goals were scored in the two fixtures making the Over 2.5 Goals market at even money a rather tantalising prospect for this weekend.

Saturday 13 August

29/20 Bordeaux | 2/1 | Saint-Etienne 21/10 (17:00)

We kick Saturday’s action off with a clash between last season’s 11th and sixth place finishers.  Saint-Etienne come into this clash off the back of a vital 1-0 Europa League qualifying round victory over Greek club AEK Athens.

Despite having home ground advantage, I think Bordeaux will struggle to get one over Saint-Etienne. While Les Girondins did manage a draw at home to Saint-Etienne last season, they were thumped 4-1 in the return leg. My advice for this one is to back Saint-Etienne on the straight win at a decent price of 21/10.

21/20 Montpellier | 21/20 | Angers 29/20 (20:00)

Both these sides enjoyed reasonable showings last term with Angers finishing ninth and Montpellier claiming 12th spot. Strangely enough, last year’s two ties between the sides were won by the away team with Angers winning 2-0 at the Stade de la Mosson while Montpellier returned the favour with a 3-2 away victory in late February.

Both sides have strengthened their squads during the off-season with Angers signing talented Bosnia and Herzegovina defender Mateo Pavolic and Montpellier acquiring the services of Belgium international Anthony Vanden Borre.

I fancy the home side here. They have a decent looking squad who will be determined to improve on last season’s eleventh placed finish. Get on Montpellier to open their season up with a narrow victory at 21/20.

23/20 Caen | 22/10 | Lorient 51/20 (20:00)

Caen enjoyed a magnificent 2015/16 season winning 16 of their 38 fixtures on the way to an eighth place finish. Their opponents for this Saturday had a much tougher time of it last term only registering 11 wins from their 38 games.

Caen have been on a bit of an off-season spending spree signing seven players. The pick of which is undoubtedly Croatian striker Ivan Santini. The burly striker has a great strike rate scoring 10 goals in 22 appearances last season and 30 goals in 69 appearances the two years prior to that. I fancy Santini to guide his side to a comfortable victory this Saturday. Back Caen on the straight win at 23/20.

14/10 Dijon | 2/1 | Nantes 22/10 (20:00)

Dijon FCO begin life in the French Ligue 1 with a tricky fixture against last season’s 14th placed finishers, Nantes. Dijon managed to secure qualification from Ligue 2 last year registering 20 wins from their 38 fixtures. They were rather good going forward, scoring 62 goals in the season. Their Achilles Heel is the defensive side of their game, however. They shipped 36 goals in Ligue 2 last term and I suspect they may concede double that in the top tier.

Nantes also struggled defensively last season conceding 44 goals in their 38 games. With both sides rather defensively frail, I reckon the way to go on this one is to back the Both Teams To Score market at 23/20.

47/20 Metz | 21/20 | Lille 13/10 (20:00)

We close Saturday off with a tie between Nantes’ fellow new boys, Metz, and Ligue 1 staple club Lille. The newcomers just scraped into the first tier of French football above Le Havre on goal difference. They look a rather ragtag group with a few exciting youngsters and a plethora of journeymen making up the composition of the squad.

While Lille don’t possess as accomplished a squad as they did back in 2010 – how the owners must wish Eden Hazard, Mathieu Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye had hung around - they still should be able to see off Metz rather easily especially considering some of the buys they’ve made in the off-season. Back Lille on the straight win at 13/10.

Sunday 14 August

9/4 Nancy | 43/20 | Lyon 13/10 (15:00)

Last year’s Ligue 1 runners-up, Lyon, start their campaign against Ligue 2 champions Nancy. The hosts for this encounter managed to secure 21 wins from their 38 fixtures last year on the way to a comfortable promotion to the big time. They could well be in for a rude awakening this Sunday though, as they are taking on a side who scored 67 goals in 38 outings, last term.

Lyon coach Bruno Genesio seems to have trimmed the excess squad fat for his sides 2016/17 campaign. The 49-year-old has already seen 11 of last season’s squad move on from the club. Although the majority of these moves would have pleased the manager, there is one transfer that Genesio is unlikely to be too happy about; Samuel Umtiti to Barcelona. The promising centre-half’s move to the Catalan giants wouldn’t have gone down all too well. The French international's move to Spain has forced Lyon to splash the cash on former Marseille defender, Nicolas Nkoulou.

Despite a plethora of changes to the Lyon squad, I can still see them having another great season. Back them to get their 2016/17 campaign off to a winning start at 13/10.

13/10 Nice | 21/10 | Rennes 23/10 (17:00)

Nice will be looking to build on what was an extremely promising 2015/16 season by getting an opening day win over Rennes this Sunday. Les Aiglons really exceeded expectations last term managing to finish fourth in the league and claim a Europa League berth in the process.

Rennes also enjoyed a decent campaign managing a respectable eighth place finish. They did struggle against Nice though, going down 4-1 in front of their home support and then losing the return leg 3-0.

I suspect Rennes are on for another loss here. Back Nice to make it three victories on the trot against Rennes at 13/10.

19/20 Marseille | 47/20 | Toulouse 29/10 (20:45)

Our final fixture of the opening round pits last season’s 13th placed finishers against last season’s 17th placed finishers. The 2015/16 campaign was a massive disappointment for Marseille supporters. The 2009/10 league champions were a shadow of their former glorious selves struggling to a horrendous lower-mid table finish. They have lost a lot of playing talent over the past few year’s and are now viewed as one of Europe’s selling clubs.

While the expectations on Toulouse last season were a lot less than those set for Marseille, you’d have expected a bit more from Pascal Dupraz’ men who only managed to avoid relegation by a solitary point.

Toulouse did give a good account of themselves against Marseille last season, though, drawing the first tie between the two sides and only going down by a goal in the second fixture. I can see them giving Marseille another real test here. Back the Double Chance Toulouse + Draw at 15/20.

Written by Darry Worthington