The French football season gets underway this weekend and as in the past two years, Paris St. Germain will be favourites to win Ligue 1 to make it a hat-trick of titles.
But then they should. One of the refreshing things about French football is that playing budgets are quite public. This creates some form of transparency, but simultaneously, it must be a huge demotivator for the rest of the league when PSG reveal their purse for the campaign. PSG’s budget is 10 times the budget of at least five teams and more than three times the next best, Monaco. They should, and probably will, win the title – Un terrain de jeu de niveau? Not a word of it!
PSG have been relatively quiet in the transfer market this summer, but they have had to be subdued given they failed the FIFA Financial Fair Play test. Sanctions are likely. But they did manage to buy David Luiz from Chelsea and that means PSG have Thiago Silva and Luiz at the back. After the World Cup debacle, nobody is going to want to own too many Brazilians this coming season! The World Cup men will miss the first few games of the new season.
PSG, who have just terminated their interest in Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria, may find that they do not come under as much pressure to retain their title. Monaco, financially the best equipped opponent, are weaker than 12 months ago after losing James Rodriguez to Real Madrid and leading scorer Emmanuel Riviere to Newcastle United. There’s also rumours that Rademal Falcao will leave the club in the coming weeks.
Marseille, who have overhauled their backroom staff after a troubled season in 2013-14, and Lyon are arguably the only other clubs in with anything like a sniff of the title, but they have too much ground to make up on PSG. Don’t be too surprised if clubs like PSG start making overtures to the likes of Jordan Ferri at Lyon and Florian Thauvin at Marseille.
Although Ligue 1 threatens to be a duopoly in 2014-15 – Monaco will be further boosted by Champions League football – there is plenty to be optimistic about in France. There is a stream of young talent coming through at clubs like Lyon and the national team outperformed in Brazil. It would be good for the game if, for example, somebody like Lyon or Marseille, or even Lille, were to spring a surprise. But that might be wishful thinking – expect Zlatan and his supporting cast to make it three in a row.