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Teams to Follow – Ligue 1

Ligue 1 has seen 12 game weeks so far, and the table is taking shape. This could give us a sign of how the league will look at the end of the season, with PSG top of the table as expected. However, they are yet to pull ahead as dramatically as recent seasons. This could open the door for other teams, including Lille, Lyon, and Montpellier to push them to the limit. 

Paris Saint-Germain

Recent History and Achievements

PSG are the most successful French team of the modern era, winning seven of the previous eight seasons following Monaco’s brief spell on top. They have also won the Coupe de France six times since 2010, but the UEFA Champions League trophy is still elusive, coming in second place to Bayern Munich last season. Not that this is anything to feel ashamed of. 

Why Follow Them? 

If you want to follow a team likely to win nine out of ten games every season, PSG is the team for you. After last season’s cancellation, they will be keen to retain the title ‘properly’, and it’s certain that Tuchel, Neymar, and co. will be itching to better their second-place finish in the Champions League. Look out for players like Mbappé, while Moise Kean could surprise after an uneventful Everton stint. Youngster Xavi Simons could also get some chances to impress. 

Key Players to Look Out For 

  • Kylian Mbappé
  • Moise Kean
  • Xavi Simons 

Olympique Lyonnais

Recent History and Achievements

Before PSG ruled Ligue 1, it was Lyon who cemented themselves as the team to beat and set a record of seven straight first-place finishes from 2002 to 2008. Their fortunes have faltered since then, and the closest Lyon has come to reaching early millennium heights was in 2016. They currently sit third in the league, four points behind PSG at the top spot. 

Why Follow Them? 

Considering how long it has been since Lyon last won Ligue 1 and the turmoil they have experienced along the way, you can hope they replicate last season’s Champions League form that saw them knock out both Juventus and Manchester City. Their squad has a mixture of youth and experience, meaning they could easily improve on their seventh-place finish from last season. 

Key Players to Look Out For 

  • Houssem Aouar
  • Rayan Cherki
  • Maxence Caqueret

Lille OSC 

Recent History and Achievements

Lille last won Ligue 1 in the 2010/11 season, eleven years after winning promotion from Ligue 2. Since then, they have only finished second, sixteen points off of PSG in 2019. Their last league victory is also the last time they tasted Coupe de France success. Currently in second place, and just two points behind the leaders, so there could be a repeat of two years ago. 

Why Follow Them? 

Lille are one of the most consistent teams in the league, which is remarkable considering how regularly their squad seems to chop and change. They lost last season’s top scorer, but they have brought in promising American Jonathan David from Gent, in addition to the highly rated Isaac Lihadji from Marseille, who could bolster the ranks and keep them within sniffing distance of PSG. 

Key Players to Look Out For

  • Tiago Djalo
  • Jonathan David
  • Isaac Lihadji

AS Monaco 

Recent History and Achievements

AS Monaco are the most recent other-champions besides PSG, winning Ligue 1 in the 2016/17 season. Since then, there have been ups and downs. They have lost their star players almost every year, including Kylian Mbappé to rivals PSG, whereas Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva moved to Manchester City. As a result, Monaco have failed to reach the lofty heights of 2017, and were nearly relegated in 2019. They have recently appointed former Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovač as head coach. 

Why Follow Them? 

After a few seasons of abject weirdness, Monaco seem to be turning themselves around. Their attacking options are some of the best in the league, and they have also shored up their defense, which is the principal thing that let them down last season. Monaco also handed PSG a third league defeat of the season in gameweek 11, but this wasn’t enough to knock them off the top of the table. 

Key Players to Look Out For 

  • Benoît Badiashile
  • Aurélien Tchouaméni
  • Sofiane Diop 

Montpellier HSC

Recent History and Achievements

Montpellier’s sole Ligue 1 victory came with much fanfare and excitement during the 2011/12 season. Considered the underdogs, they beat PSG to the title by three points on the last day of the season. They have failed to replicate this success and have experienced nothing in the way of silverware since. They have, however, established themselves as a team that ‘belongs’ in Ligue 1 (if there is such a thing), and are slowly showing signs of progress.

Why Follow Them? 

Montpellier HSC are currently fourth in the league, level on points with Lyon, with a squad that is less than a third of Lyon’s overall value. They are not awash with promising young talent as we can see with other clubs, but there is some spark there. When you combine the youth with the experienced players, there could be something there. 

Key Players to Look Out For 

  • Joris Chotard
  • Stephy Mavididi
  • Nicolas Cozza

Olympique de Marseille

Recent History and Achievements

Alongside Lyon and PSG, Olympique de Marseille is one of the most successful French sides of all time, and the only team to win the UEFA Champions League. However, they have not won the league since 2010, although last season saw them finish second after the Ligue 1 was canceled in April. Right now, they are sixth in the league with two games in hand. 

Why Follow Them? 

Marseille’s manager André Villas-Boas has the team playing attractive football that scores plenty of goals without conceding many, either. He has a delightful combination of experience and youth, including Marley Ake and Michaël Cuisance, on loan from Bayern Munich. They were unable to strengthen much in the summer due to the budget. Still, AVB found ways to improve the squad in parts, whether through loans or making other deals permanent. 

Key Players to Look Out For 

  • Marley Ake
  • Boubacar Kamara
  • Michaël Cuisance

Although these teams are undoubtedly the ones to look out for this season and will likely be the ones to make up the Top Six at the season’s end, football always conjures up a surprise or two. We expect PSG to run rampant at some point, but, like Serie A and the Bundesliga, everyone would love the likes of Lille, Lyon, or Montpellier to throw up some surprises.