Quelqu’un peut-il arrêter le PSG? Whether your French is as good as Laurent Blanc’s or as bad as mine we all know that’s the question for this Ligue 1 title race and we all know the answer is no. In Monaco there was the potential for a two horse carve up but a disappointing transfer window and some stagnation has left the door open for a third straight title for PSG at odds of 1-7. It should prove to be a safe investment, with their squad a level ahead of the rest. With matters in France under their full control, the real mission for PSG is on a European frontier, although they look set to miss out on Angel Di Maria after blazing a huge amount on David Luiz.
Monaco were 9 points behind them last season, a fair effort considering the amount of time they were without talisman Radamel Falcao, but none of the huge fee seen for James Rodrigues following a sensational World Cup has been reinvested and they are likely to be significantly poorer for his absence. An instant return to Europe will do them a power of good long term but it could add a significant load and I’m not sure that sacking Claudio Ranieri was the smartest move. Add the departure of Emmanuel Riviere – their stop scorer last year with 10 goals and they look to be going backwards on paper and while they should aim for second, it’s not inconceivable that they could see their runners up spot under threat from a host of sides including Marseille and Lille.
Lille have managed to keep Divock Origi on a clever loan back deal from Liverpool and maintain most of the squad that took them to third last season with the likes of Seb Cochia and Marco Lopes (owned by Manchester City) also ones to watch.
They may find that Marseille, who are out of Europe for the first time in recent seasons, benefit greatly from their European exodus and the considerable influence of Marcelo Bielsa, whose presence could bring the best out of a squad that is far better than it’s sixth placed finish from last season would suggest. Romain Alessandrini (Rennes) and Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi (Standard Liege) won’t make up for the loss of Mathieu Vaulbeuna but this is not a side without other useful players – step forward Florian Thauvin and Dimirti Payet – and with no other distractions they could be back on the big stage. Lyon and St-Etienne both have a potentially long and dragging Europa League campaign to deal with and that tips the advantage in Bielsa’s favour.
1 pt Marsellie w/o PSG (7/2 general)
2 pts Marseille w/o PSG or Monaco (7/5 general)