French Ligue 1: Gameweek 1 Preview

With the start of the French Ligue 1 season less than a week away

With the start of the French Ligue 1 season less than a week away, it’s difficult to see anyone challenging PSG and their array of stars for the title. 

Still, stranger things have happened and there are 38 rounds of football to be played. So let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and take a look at week one’s fixtures.

R100 FICA

Friday 10 August 

Marseille 4/10 
Draw 36/10 
Toulouse 13/2 
(20:45)

Marseille haven’t enjoyed a great pre-season it has to be said. The team from the picturesque south lost four, drew two and only won once in their preparation for the new season. You can’t really read too much into pre-season results. However, as we’ve seen with Manchester United’s disastrous American tour, it can have an effect on a team’s morale heading into the serious stuff. I just wonder whether or not Marseille will be in the right sort of head space heading into what should be a fairly straight-forward game for them. Toulouse cruised through their relegation/promotion play-off fixtures against Ajaccio to secure their top-flight status for another year. Hanging on to their brightest young stars was always going to prove difficult and with the likes of Issa Diop heading to West Ham and Alban Lafont now plying his trade in Serie A with Fiorentina, I simply don’t see them competing with the bigger teams. Marseille should cruise through this easily enough.

Saturday 11 August

Nantes 9/4  
Draw 23/10 
Monaco 12/10 
(17:00)

This is arguably the fixture of the round with last season’s surprise package hosting the men from the Principality. Nantes, like Marseille, endured a fairly rocky pre-season campaign. There’ll be plenty of hope going into the new season though, with most of the players who took them on their 2017/18 run still on the books. You just wonder when and if the bubble will burst for Monaco. Their model is pretty unsustainable - selling their best players every season and spending big to replace them. It’s not exactly the best formula, but they’ve dealt well enough with it up until now. Aleksandr Golovkin arrived at the club in the off season along with the exciting Willem Geubbels from Lyon. Not really sure about this one result wise, but Both Teams to Score looks a solid option at 8/10.

St. Etienne 15/20  
Draw 26/10 
Guingamp 36/10 
(20:00)

St. Etienne had a pretty solid campaign last time out which was somewhat ruined by extended periods without a win. Certainly, if they find a bit more consistency, they’ll be a team that could compete for a Champions League spot. They have the ideal opportunity to get things off to a good start against unfancied Guingamp this weekend. Guingamp haven’t really set the world alight with their dealings in the transfer market. Nolan Roux is the only arrival with the centre-forward leaving last season’s bottom club, Metz. Antoine Kombouare will have a tough time replicating last season’s 12th-place finish. St. Etienne are a far better side and should get the job done – 15/20 is a great price. 

Nice 8/10  
Draw 51/20 
Stade Reims 33/10 
(20:00)

Nice have done well thus far to hang on to Mario Balotelli and Allan Saint-Maximin, however, there’s also plenty of noise being made about the exits of Jean Michael Seri and Alassane Plea to Fulham and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively. Seri especially was at the heart of the side’s success last term. Stade Reims did well to bounce straight back into Ligue 1 although whether or not they’ll be able to consolidate that position remains a bit of a pipe dream. The minnows really don’t have the squad to compete at this level and are tipped to struggle this term. Get on Nice at a very generous 8/10.

Montpellier 7/10 
Draw 26/10 
Dijon 39/10 
(20:00)

Montpellier’s 17/18 campaign remarkably contained no fewer than 18 draws. If they’re able to convert even half of those into wins this time around they’ll compete with the likes of Marseille and Monaco in the Champions League positions. Worryingly, they’ve only brought in Florent Mollet and Juinior Sambia from Metz and Niort respectively. Hardly the most ambitious transfer activity we’ve seen in this window. Dijon have been pretty shrewd in the summer window, bringing in a number of signings that will only serve to strengthen a squad that didn’t really lose any key players to other clubs. Naim Sliti arrives from Lille while plenty of fans are excited to see Yoann Gourcuff following his arrival on a free transfer. Despite boxing smart in the window, I still think that Montpellier should prove too strong here. Take the home win at 7/10.

Angers 13/10  
Draw 22/10 
Nimes 22/10 
(20:00)

Angers’ lack of investment in the summer has raised serious concerns for a side that only just escaped relegation last season. The only signings really worth mentioning are Harrisson Manzala, Vincent Pajot and Stephane Bahoken who all arrived for a combined 2 million euros. Fortunately, they kick things off with a relatively simple (on paper at least) fixture against minnows, Nimes. It’s always so difficult to properly gauge how well these newly-promoted teams will perform in a league campaign, and Nimes are no differnet. They sold star striker Jordan Siebatcheu to Stade Rennais without bringing in another forward. This alone speaks volumes. Angers all day for me.

Lille 29/20  
Draw 43/20 
Stade Rennais 39/20 
(20:00)

Lille were incredibly lucky to survive relegation last season. A late charge over the last two or three match days ensured their survival. You’d assume then that the owners would invest pretty heavily in a squad that battled badly last season… well you’d be wrong. High profile departures of Yves Bissouma and Ibrahim Amadou haven’t really been replaced. That said, the likes of Jose Fonte and Loic Remy will add a bit of experience to a squad whose naivety almost saw them drop a division last time out. Stade Rennais enjoyed a solid campaign last time out, eventually finishing in fifth place behind Marseille. The exciting Jordan Siebatcheu arrives from Riems while Clerment Grenier and Romain Del Castillo beef up the midfield options. Rennes look in very good shape heading into this campaign, back them to claim three away points at Lille this weekend.

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Sunday 12 August

Lyon 2/9  
Draw 52/10 
Amiens 10/1 
(15:00)

Lyon will run PSG close this season, which says a lot about lowly Amiens and their chances in this fixture. Take the hosts on the (-1) Handicap at 6/10.

Bordeaux 13/20 
Draw 26/10 
Strasbourg 17/4 
(17:00)

While Bordeaux enjoyed a solid enough season last time out, you feel they can give so much more. Of course, they lost Malcolm to Barcelona in the summer, however, they’ve managed to bring in exciting young winger Samuel Kalu from Gent as his replacement. Whether or not the young Nigerian will make an instant impact remains to be seen. Other than that, they’ve managed to keep hold of the bulk of their squad. Strasbourg have certainly made some decent improvements to their squad in the summer with Matz Sels, Stefan Mitrovic, Ludovic Ajorque and Ibrahim Sissoko adding to the spine of the team. They’re unlikely to set the world alight but they should steer clear of relegation. Don’t expect any surprises against some of the bigger teams either. With that in mind, take Bordeaux to win at 13/20.

PSG 1/8 
Draw 8/1 
Caen 18/1 
(21:00)

The hosts are only 3/10 on the (-1) Handicap. I’d advise you to take either Home Win To Nil at 8/10 or Home To Win By Three Or More Goals at the same price. Caen simply don’t stand a chance this weekend. 

TREBLE @ 74/10
Nice Win 8/10
Stade Rennais Win 39/20
Lyon (-1) Handicap 6/10

Written by Jason Dewey

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