Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ligue 1 - Lyon again or will someone else take the title?

The French Ligue 1 has gotten underway, after two weeks we have an old school French team - Nancy sitting on top of the table. This will not last. I think that we will see Lyon for the 6th time sitting on top of the table end of season. Speaking of which can anyone guess who was the last winner of Ligue 1? It was Nantes in 2000/2001 season...seems like a life time ago, and in that season Lyon was only 4 points behind in second place.

So what to expect this season:

  • Lyon will win it again. They have the working formula or youth and experience, solid management, money, European experience, and no real competitors. When you look at the Lyon roster you realize that they have the Brazil B team - Cris, Fred, and Juninho. While these brazilians are not as famous as those plying their trades through out europe - Kaka, Ronaldo, Robinho, Ronaldino, etc...they are all solid players and fit perfectly into the Lyon system. Lyon also has a collection of solid, but not spectacular, internationals: Diarra, Muller, Tiago and Carew. These players are all full internationals but none are superstars, but each is world class at their position. Lyon has a strong collection of French internationals: Wiltord, Abidal, Coupet, Malouda and Govou. Lyon also has an assortment of young internationals: Toulalan, Clerc, Ben Arfa, and Berthod. This mix of talent gives Lyon the ability to field experienced teams with youth ready to step in. It also gives Lyon the depth needed to survive a grueling domestic season. However the lack of a superstar, might be the reason why they have not proceeded past the 1/4 finals of the Champions League, they do not have 2 - 3 world class players like a Henry, Gerrard, Ronaldino, Eto'o, etc that you need to elevate your team to the next level when playing tournament styled games in Europe. I think that is why their inability to get a Drogba or Ribery this off season might cost them again in Europe. But their depth and talent should see them to a 6th French title.
  • Lille and Bordeaux will fight for the second spot. Lille has been a team on the rise the past few seasons they have they formation and youth. They have proven an ability to compete at the highest level the past few seasons, pulling talent from the african continent as well as lesser known French players...I must admit I cannot name any of their starting squad, yet every season they are contending. As for Bordeaux, the addition of Micoud will bring they a much needed maestro. I think the Micoud, Smicer, Mavuba midfield will achieve some great things. Bordeaux has proven to be a resilient bunch, this season they will take it another level.
  • PSG and Marseilles will dissappoint once again. Marseilles will be dangerous now that they have retained Ribery, he could take this domestic season as a break out. He should be able to build from his World Cup to emerge as the next big French star. But overall I think that Marseilles is in too much turmoil to contend. PSG....well what can I say....if their first two games are any indication we PSG fans are in for another long season. It is the same story every season, ability to bring in loads of talent (not always successful), great fan base, coaching carrousel, and disappointing season. After two games Lacombe has used two completely different formations, have not been able to establish a system and have ended up with 1 whole point. They have no system, no one that seems to take over the midfield role, no one that seems to hold together the defense.....I think that PSG will be lucky to finish in the top 5.
I think we will see much of the same this season - Lyon showing its class, Lille and Bordeaux will battle for second, PSG will dissapoint.

What I will be watching is to see if Lyon can take the next step in Europe.

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