The 2011-12 French Ligue 1 season begins on Saturday August 6 so with less than a week to kick-off it’s time to analyse the contenders for the upcoming campaign.
The reigning champions Lille have lost influential duo Adil Rami and Gervinho, while Paris Saint-Germain have become the Manchester City of France following the arrival of their new Qatari owners suggesting they could challenge for the title.
But we should never forget about Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux who have all won the title in recent years.
Last season: Champions (21 wins, 13 draws, 4 Losses, 68-36)
Topscorer: Moussa Sow (25 goals)
Most assists: Gervinho & Eden Hazard (9 assists)
Manager: Rudi Garcia
Major Signings: Benoit Pedretti (AJ Auxerre – Undisclosed), Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv – Undisclosed), Ronny Rodelin (Nantes – Undisclosed), Marko Basa (Lokomotiv Moscow – Undisclosed), Dimitri Payet (Saint Etienne - €9m), David Rozehnal (Hamburg SV - €500k), Thomas Regnier (Mulhouse - Free)
Major Departures: Adil Rami (Valencia – Loan Return), Jerry Vandam (Chateauroux – Lille), Nicolas Fauvergue (Sedan – Undisclosed), Ludovic Butelle (Arles-Avignon – Free), Stephan Dumont (Monaco – Free), Pierre-Alain Frau (Caen – Undisclosed), Gervinho (Arsenal - Undisclosed)
Rudi Garcia’s Lille have made some smart signings during the European summer as they prepare to defend their title along with their new Champions League commitments. Lille have already lost influential pair Adil Rami and Gervinho, but they have managed to hold onto Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard and striker Moussa Sow. They’ve also added the talented Dimitri Payet, but holding their crown may be a stretch too far given what they’ll face next term. Lille should still be a top five team.
Last season: Runners-up (18 wins, 4 draws, 6 Losses, 62-39)
Topscorer: Loic Remy (16 goals)
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Major Signings: Morgan Amalfitano (Lorient – Free), Jeremy Morel (Lorient - €2.5m), Nicolas N’Koulou (Monaco - €3.5m), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux – Undisclosed), Gennaro Bracigliano (Nancy - Free)
Major Departures: Taye Taiwo (AC Milan – Free), Senah Mango (Monaco – Loan), Gabriel Heinze (AS Roma)
Marseille may have lost two big names in Taye Taiwo and Gabriel Heinze during the off-season but they appear stronger after bolstering their backline with Alou Diarra, Jeremy Morel and Nicolas N’Koulou. Didier Deschamps’ side scored plenty of goals last term and with Loic Remy, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Mathieu Valbuena and Andre Ayew in the side, there’s plenty of goal threat. Lucho Gonzalez’ future at the club will be important but they can win the title this term.
Last season: 3rd (17 wins, 13 draws, 8 Losses, 61-40)
Topscorer: Lisandro Lopez (17 goals)
Most assists: Jimmy Briand (7 assists)
Manager: Remi Garde
Major Signings: none
Major Departures: Jeremy Toulalan (Malaga - €10m), Cesar Delgado (Monterrey), Pape Diakathe (Dynamo Kiev)
Lyon’s seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles are a distant memory nowadays with the team appearing unable to compete with the best, despite a third-place finish last term. Claude Puel has left to be replaced by Remi Garde, but he hasn’t been able to add any top players to his squad which does consist quality. However, Aly Cissokho, Michel Bastos and Miralem Pjanic may all leave before thr transfer window closes which could leave them well short.
Last season: 4th (15 wins, 15 draws, 8 Losses, 56-41)
Topscorer: Nene (14 goals)
Most assists: Ludovic Giuly (8 assists)
Manager: Antoine Kombouare
Major Signings: Mohamed Sissoko (Juventus - Undisclosed), Javier Pastore (Palermo - Undisclosed), Nicolas Douchez (Stade Rennes – Free), Kevin Gameiro (Lorient - €11m), Milan Bisevac (Valenciennes – Undisclosed), Jeremy Menez (AS Roma - €8m), Blaise Matuidi (Saint-Etienne - €7.5m)
Major Departures: Florian Makhedjouf (Sedan – Free), Kévin Rimane (Boulogne – Free), Younousse Sankharé (Dijon - €1m), Jeremy Clement (Saint-Etienne – Undisclosed), Tripy Makonda (Brest - €500k), Yacine Qasmi (Rennes – Free), Claude Makelele (retired), Ludovic Giuly (released), Gregory Coupet (retired)
The Parisians have seen some well-known faces move on this summer in Gregory Coupet, Ludovic Giuly and Claude Makelele, but this is a club with unlimited financial resources thanks to their new Qatari owners and their recent spending spree which has landed top players like Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez could inspire PSG back to the top of French football. It’s been a long time coming for PSG, but then again, they are still a long way off the title, despite their squad having all the quality required on paper.
Last season: 7th (12 wins, 15 draws, 11 Losses, 43-42)
Topscorer: Anthony Modeste (10 goals)
Most assists: Jaroslav Plasil (10 assists)
Manager: Francis Gillot
Major Signings: Nicolas Maurice-Belay (Sochaux – Free), Landry N’Guemo (Nancy – Free), Gregorz Krychowiak (Reims)
Major Departures: Matthieu Saunier (Troyes – Undisclosed), Ulrich Rame (Sedan – Free), Paul Lasne (Ajaccio – Free), Pierre Ducasse (Lens – Free), Alou Diarra (Marseille – Undisclosed), Fernando Menegazzo (Al Shabab Riyadh), Fernando Cavenaghi (River Plate)
Jean Tigana has been moved on after last term’s disappointing seventh-place finish and the signs in pre-season suggests this come could be heading in the right direction. There haven’t been any big-name arrivals and they’ve actually lost some decent players, particularly Alou Diarra but Bordeaux could rely on their talented youngsters more this campaign with Gregory Sertic, Henri Saivet and Anthony Modeste ready to shine.