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5 reasons we are excited about Ligue 1 this year

Robin Bairner
Top 5 / Top 10
614   //    11 Aug 2017, 20:20 IST

Monaco Ligue 1 champions.jpg
Can Monaco defend their title?

Although France has had one of the finest national teams in the world for the last two decades, Ligue 1 has grown to become a division sneered upon by certain critics.Such criticism has often been unfair and has inevitably been excessive, as Le Championnat has proven the most prolific contributor of top-class talent in Europe.

There is barely a big club in Europe that does not have a first-team regular who has come through one of the French academies – and more often than not there are two or three in any one side.

Ligue 1 is no longer about producing young players, though. Significant investments have been made in the likes of Marseille and Lille over the course of the summer, while Nice pushed Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco all the way last summer.

After surprisingly losing their crown to Monaco, PSG have reinforced over the summer months, aiming not just to become kings of France, but Europe too. And this year promises to be another thrilling race to the Championship.

It has been many years since Le Championnat could be considered so exciting. Here are the best five reasons to watch Ligue 1 this season, though:

#5 Watch one of the world’s most influential coaches in action

Atalanta BC v LOSC Lille - Pre-Season Friendly
Bielsa is back in action - this time with Lille

Bielsa has been hailed by Pep Guardiola as one of his major footballing influences, and while the Argentine does not have a trophy cabinet of any particular regard, he is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating modern-day coaches.

Something of a cult hero, Bielsa has thrived at clubs where money has been tight. Although Lille’s budget this year is hardly exorbitant compared to PSG, he has been allowed to build a team along with Gerard Lopez, the club’s new owner and a friend of Bielsa.

It seems a situation that is set up perfectly for the South American, who has become famed for his preference for a unique 3-3-1-3 formation, incredible pressing intensity and idiosyncratic approach on the training ground.

It’s early days yet, but on the evidence of the opening 3-0 victory over Nantes last weekend, this is a project that may just hit the French football by surprise. Lille were incredibly vibrant going forward, with a team boasting an average age of just 23 and the oldest player at just 26.

LOSC may not win the league, but there is little doubting they will be one of the most fun sides to watch in the whole of Europe.

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Robin Bairner
UK-based freelance football journalist for the last decade, I've appeared in publications such as the Guardian, the Blizzard, When Saturday Comes, but can most frequently be found on I write about European football, and have worked at both World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016.
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