Will we see the real Messi?
Messi, OM, OL, Mbappé … The 10 questions we ask ourselves before the resumption of Ligue 1
Credit: Quentin Guichard
Tolisso is in the OL group for the first time since his return
A DAY AGO
A good start, all that is missing in Monaco?
ASM is the only club with that of the capital to have systematically finished on the podium for the past two seasons. Impressive in the final sprint, she could have aimed higher without a mixed first half of the championship each time. The Monegasques know what they need to correct but the task is delicate. It will be necessary to manage the departure of Aurélien Tchouaméni, the 3rd preliminary round and a possible barrage in C1, and a frankly indigestible calendar to start (Strasbourg, Rennes, Lens, Paris, Nice and Lyon in the first 7 days). But if they succeed, Philippe Clément’s men can still dream of a podium. Or even better…
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Lyon, finally living up to its ambitions?
It’s an understatement to say that OL have a lot to make amends with their supporters after finishing in an 8th place unworthy of their rank last season. But that he is not European could become a blessing in disguise. Totally focused on the championship, boosted financially by the arrival of its future majority shareholder John Textor, strengthened sportingly (Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso, Nicolas Tagliafico, etc.), reinvigorated by a new wave of young people led by Maxence Caqueret and Castello Lukeba, the Peter Bosz’s team can legitimately aim for the podium. If it doesn’t plump up on its own like last year.
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Stay on the podium, mission impossible for OM?
The season following qualification for the Champions League is often difficult for OM. In the last three cases, the Marseille club has never done better than fifth place. Will the coming year enable the trend to be reversed? Nothing is less sure. With the surprise resignation of Jorge Sampaoli, a transfer window not really in line with his status as qualified in C1 and a rather tense atmosphere since the arrival of new coach Igor Tudor, Marseille is going through a rather worrying summer with a view to still appearing on the podium next spring. He will have to end it on a more positive note to hope to confirm his rank as runner-up from last season.
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Rennes, Nice: what if we aimed higher than a top 5?
They were able to dream of the podium last season before becoming disillusioned when it came to the verdict. Rennes and Nice however managed to finish in the Top 5 and gave themselves the means to do at least as well. The Breton club has retained this offensive strike force embodied by the Terrier-Laborde duo while strengthening its defense (Arthur Theate, Joe Rodon, Steve Mandanda). For their part, the Aiglons were able to convince Lucien Favre to find a bench that had succeeded in the image of his third place in Ligue 1 in 2017. What, for Rennes as for Nice, to give credit to their candidacy in the podium race.
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Lille, future outsider or big flop in perspective?
It was only a year ago, but the time when Lille attacked the championship in the costume of the defending champion already seems a long way off. LOSC could not confirm, failing in 10th place in the standings after a very sad exercise despite qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Falling into line is a double-edged sword. The Mastiffs, now led by Paulo Fonseca and reinforced by Mohamed Bayo, advance masked and this can be an asset to regain the heights of the classification. But a defensive sector weakened by the departures of Sven Botman, Zeki Celik and Xeka may also limit their ambitions in this regard.
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Strasbourg, Lens, Nantes: the harder will be the confirmation?
Three clubs which have in common to come out of a successful season. Strasbourg, Lens and Nantes were able to combine play and results to earn a deserved place in the first half of the standings. Staying there, or even climbing even more, will be their challenge for the season. He seems more on the ropes of Strasbourg, probably less impacted by departures during this transfer window. The Lensois had to resolve to let Jonathan Clauss and Cheick Doucouré slip away while the Nantes residents lost Randal Kolo Muani and will also be engaged on the European front. Their mission looks more complicated. But not impossible.
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Ben Yedder, Lacazette… is King Mbappé threatened?
He has reigned in the Ligue 1 scorer rankings for four years, and his decision to extend to PSG automatically places him as the big favorite to his own succession. Kylian Mbappé, also the best passer in the championship last spring, is however not without a rival for the title of best pyrotechnician in France. There is always Wissam Ben Yedder, who threatened him for a long time last season. There is also Martin Terrier, eager to confirm his outbreak of last year (21 goals). There is now Alexandre Lacazette, back at OL. And Jonathan David, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Andy Delort… Enough to spice up the challenge for Mbappé. Exactly, he loves it.
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Less heckling in the stands, is that too much to ask?
It was the big downside of last season. The long-awaited return of the public to the stadiums has also resulted in an increase in violence in the stands and all the consequences that this has had. There was surely an excess of excitement among some after confinement and security devices difficult to relaunch after the camera. The question is whether everything will go back to normal this season. The recent incidents on the sidelines of the friendly matches between Nice and Torino and Rennes and Aston Villa do not necessarily encourage optimism. But for the good of Ligue 1, it is urgent to put an end to this type of overflow.
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Four descents: after Bordeaux and Sainté, is there a big one to tremble with?
This is an opportunity to recall that Ligue 1 resumes without two of its historic members, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne, relegated at the end of last season. Also that the 20 clubs of the elite are at the dawn of a particular exercise, since it will see four formations automatically descend to the lower level next spring. What to imagine other strongholds of the championship in danger? Not necessarily. None are experiencing signs of concern as strong as those who accompanied Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne. It is rather the “little ones” who can worry about it. Those for whom maintenance is the only objective. Because it will inevitably be more difficult to insure this year.
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