French Ligue 1 Outright Preview

French Ligue 1 2017/18
With the French Ligue 1 fast approaching, take a look at our outright preview for the 2017/18 season
With less than a fortnight to go before the Ligue 1 action gets underway, it’s about time we took a look at how things are shaping up ahead of the 2017/18 season. Big spenders PSG are providing Europe’s premier sporting publications with a plethora of click bait with their dual pursuit of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Barcelona’s Neymar getting more column time than a celebrity scandal.

And while the Parisians are unlikely to capture either of these prodigious forwards, their willingness to splash over 200 million pounds on just two players illustrates how intent they are on reclaiming the Ligue 1 title after they surrendered to an extremely talented Monaco squad last season.

To Win Outright
PSG 7/20 | Monaco 4/1 | Marseille 14/1 | Lyon 20/1 | Lille 50/1 | Nice 66/1

The Contenders

Paris Saint-Germain

The only place which one can start when it comes to drawing up the contenders list is the French capital of Paris where Paris Saint-Germain ply their trade. Last season saw Unai Emery’s ‘Gallatico’s’ fail to capture the Ligue 1 title for the first time in half a decade as they finished the season eight points behind champions Monaco. As one would expect, the PSG board was less than pleased with second-place and immediately whipped the chequebook out. And while they’re nowhere near done with the spending, they have already secured the services of veteran right-back Dani Alves and it seems only a matter of time before they lure one of Europe’s top attackers to the French capital.

Monaco

On to Monaco now, and I highly doubt we will see the men from the French Principality claim back-to-back titles with Europe’s glamour sides pillaging the club’s resources. At present, the Monaco board has managed to keep hold of talented young guns Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe but they have lost Tiemoue Bakayoko (Chelsea), Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy (both to Manchester City).  While Monaco fans will be elated that Mbappe and Lemar are still on the club’s books, it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation as if the youngsters are sold on late in summer transfer window - which seems an extremely likely occurrence - it would leave the club with little time to adequately replace them.

Marseille

Marseille, despite investing heavily in their squad during the transfer window, are unlikely to launch a realistic title assault. The club is still in a bit of a transition phase as the signings of journeymen Steve Mandanda, Adil Remi and Luis Gustavo attest to. The side from the South Coast of France only managed a fifth-place finish last term, with the long season seemingly taking a toll on their veteran squad. And while I think they’ll be slightly more competitive this time around, I honestly think the best they can hope for is a top three finish.

Surprise Package

Nice

The real surprise for me when it came to researching this preview was the price you could get on Nice winning the Ligue. I mean 66/1 for a side who finished third last season just seems outrageous! I kind of get why the bookies have affixed such a large price to Nice’s heads; their summer transfer dealings have hardly set the world alight. Having said that, they do still have some quality players amongst their ranks, including Mario Balotelli.

The former Manchester City man actually had a brilliant start to the 2016/17 season but injuries curtailed his chances of continuing the momentum he had built up during the early salvos. If Balotelli can avoid injury and Nice can be a bit tighter at the back, then they may just give PSG a bit of a run.

Destined for the Drop

This is generally the toughest segment when it comes to doing these season previews as we are yet to see the sides in truly competitive action. Last year saw only one of the newly-promoted sides drop back to the second tier with Nancy missing out on safety by just two points. The new boys were joined in their demotion to Ligue 2 by Bastia and Lorient – two sides who had enjoyed an extended run in the top tier. I can’t really see that being the case this year as all three of the promoted sides lack the scrappiness of the likes of Metz.

Like I alluded to earlier, predicting who will be relegated is far from an exact science but if I had to put my money on it, my three candidates would be Amines, Troyes and Dijon.

Verdict: PSG 7/20
There’s little to no value on a PSG to claim the league title punt and I seriously would look at one of Europe’s other outright markets if you’re looking for a long- term investment, although you could certainly add this one to a long-term multiple as it's pretty much a banker. The prudent thing to do here would be to also put an extremely small stake on Nice to win the league and then hope PSG implode. It’s extremely unlikely to occur, however, and at present, I can only see PSG lifting the title come next May.

Article by Darry Worthington