Monday, August 06, 2007

Ligue 1 kicks off

This past weekend was the first week for France's Ligue 1. And no surprise, Lyon is back at top of the table, goals were sparse, and PSG could not find the back of the net. So here are some thoughts for the upcoming season:

  1. Lyon - yes they will make Ligue 1 boring, once again by winning their 7th straight title. But I think that this is going to be a tight race. Once again they lose more talent than they can replace - Abidal and Malouda gone and one player that is gone that is not getting as much attention - Tiago (after losing Essien and Diarra in past seasons). Lyon signed Italian defender Grosso to replace Abidal. They have signed two players from Caen - Bodmer and Keita. While neither is the same talent of Malouda, the combination of the two is a decent replacement for Malouda. The real question is who will replace Tiago. He was the quiet player on the Lyon team, coming over from Chelsea in the Essein swap he was the joker for Lyon in the their midfield. He could play a multitude of roles in the midfield. Moving to Juventus will create a big hole once again for Lyon. The major question mark will be can they survive 4 months without Coupet? But I think that Lyon has enough depth and talent to win Ligue 1 once again. Benzema is poised to have a break out season, Baros will have a full season, with the Brazilians still plying their trade for Lyonnaise - Cris, Fred and Juninho - they have too much for other clubs.
  2. Marseilles - Yes France's second city club will threaten Lyon, had they held on to Ribery I would give them a serious chance to unseat Lyon from top of France. They made some interesting signings this off season - securing Cisse full time, getting Zenden and signing Givet and Faty. The two latter to shore up the middle of the defense. Zenden will slot in next to Nasri to help manage the middle of the park. Cisse looks primed to make a full return after finally recovering from his horrible broken leg. I think he has a major chip on his shoulder to prove that he is the striker he once was with Auxerre. OM finished strong last season and have just enough to give Lyon a scare but with out 1 or 2 high class players (such as Ribery, and it could be worse if Inter grabs Nasri during the winter transfer window) they will not have enough.
  3. Lens - Les Sang et Or made a huge splash this off season by convincing Guy Roux to return to the management bench. Lens already had a solid 5th place last year and should build upon this result, I just cannot imagine Toulouse finishing third. Lens also brought in Kalou from PSG, I think away from the capital team, Kalou will demonstrate the true level of talent he has in his boots.
  4. Bordeaux - Les Girondins will challenge for top 5. Adding Alou Diarra to the roster might be the joker that Bordeaux needs. Diarra has always been chasing his "potential." Always one of those players deemed the next Vieira but never really living up to it. Micoud has a full season under his belt I think will be much more comfortable and at ease in Ligue 1. They still have a solid back stop in Rame and I think an intriguing first year manager - former French international Lauren Blanc. Blanc has talked a big game about how he would manage (he was in the running to take over the national team prior to the hiring of Domenech). This is his opportunity to prove himself.
  5. Monaco - The team from the principality always seems to creep up when least expected, I think this season is no different. With Koller and Piquionne up front, they will create some serious match up problems in the aerial game. Now maybe if anyone would show up to watch the games....
What about my team? PSG? Well they will struggle, they are in a transitional season under Le Guen. I think it is crucial that the powers that be at PSG allow their manager to mold the team and shape it. If they expect Champions League and Ligue 1 glory immediately they will once again be let down and will be going through their 14th manager in 2 seasons....PSG has not made any major off season signings other than resigning Rothen. They did allow Ypes and Kalou to leave, freeing up money and getting some underachievers out of Parc des Princes. I expect a good season from Luyindula and think that Le Guen has one or two tricks up his sleeve. If he is allowed to make the proper moves, PSG could rise back sooner rather than later, if he is sacked after 19 games then PSG will once again struggle.

League 1 will once again struggle to have free flowing football with goals and anyone to really challenge Lyon. I think this is the result of the constant exodus of talent from Ligue 1 to other nations. You would think this is due to not enough money, yet the Canal + deal with Ligue 1 is second richest in Europe behind BskyB with the Prem....however the taxes are so high that to give players the same net take home money it would take 20% - 30% in gross salary...making it difficult to retain players of the likes of Gourcuff, Ribery, Malouda, Essien, Diarra, to name a few of the talented players to have left Ligue 1 in the past few seasons.

It should be a fun season, Lyon will win again but will be challenged more than the past few seasons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

PSG... has no hope as usual... :)

Let's pray that Marseille make it to the top

There was an error in this gadget