League Preview: Ligue 1
The newest Ligue 1 season is set to start on 12 August, with the aim of lasting till 18 May, 2024. PSG enters as the defending champion with aspirations of defending and lifting another trophy this year.
Most people see Ligue 1 as a one-horse race league. While Paris Saint-Germain is the dominant factor here, the rest of the league is more than unpredictable. There are multiple contenders that want to challenge the title-holders as well as teams that want to avoid relegation.
Let’s see how the 2023/24 Ligue 1 season lines up and which are the main contenders to the title.
Ligue 1 Season Format
Compared to the previous season, the newest one will feature 18 teams instead of 20. Last year, four teams were relegated to Ligue 2 without the option of playoff games. At the same time, two teams were promoted, leaving the league with 18 teams.
The league continues with the traditional double round-robin format with home and away games. When it comes to relegation, two teams will go down to Ligue 2 directly, while a third one will get a chance to shave their top league status through a relegation playoff game.
Ligue 1 also grants direct entrance to the Champions League group stage to three teams that finish on top. The fourth goes to the third round of qualifiers for the Champions League. The fifth team of the league earns a qualifying spot in the Europa League, while the sixth team of the league joins the Conference League qualifications.
Ligue 1 Main Title Contenders
There is no doubt about which is the top team in France. PSG has won nine league titles over the last 11 years. They are the dominant force in France and usually stroll through the league while fighting more important battles in the Champions League.
With Neymar and Lione Messi leaving, it gives more room for Kylian Mbappé to show how much he is actually worth and if he can lead a whole team on his own.
Paris SG’s biggest challengers are Olympique Marseille, AS Monaco, and Lille this season. While it is hard for any club other than PSG to win the title in France, surprises have happened. Some prime examples are Monaco in 2016 and Lille in 2020, teams that managed to dethrone PSG.
Last season, it was Lens posing the biggest threat to the ruling champion. But in the end, they only managed to secure second place and a Champions League spot.
Besides these four teams, dark horse contenders are Rennes and Nice. Rennes did finish in the top four this season, while Nice definitely has the potential to finish above 9th place, where they were last year.
Being that this year, there are fewer teams but a lesser number of relegation spots, it makes the contention for the last place in Ligue 1 that much more interesting. At the start of the season, clubs like Clermont Foot, Le Havre, and Metz are the likeliest teams to go down this season.
In previous years, legendary clubs like Bordeaux, Auxerre, St-Etienne, and Troyes went down to Ligue 2. It means that the relegation race is much more uneven when it comes to France. It is not impossible for new surprises to come afoot this season as well.