Ligue 1

The French league often termed as a farmers league has been the best title race in Europe this season

The word ‘farmers league’ come to our mind inevitably, if Ligue 1 is mentioned in any conversation. Such has been PSG’s dominance. They have won seven of the last eight seasons. But this time Ligue 1 boasts the best title race in Europe’s top 5 leagues.With only 4 points separating the top 4 and only 7 weeks to go. So how did this happen? jump in with us.

PSG’S SLUMP

Ligue 1

Kylian Mbappe for PSG (Image courtesy Ligue1.com)

After finishing as Champion’s League runner-ups PSG were expected to do one better this season. But a condensed summer break and covid outbreak in the squad hindered them. They were slow to start the season and dropped points to rivals Marseille.

Neymar Jr has had a mixed season. Injuries and a bad temper(red-carded twice) prevented him from hitting his very best. Although Mbappe and loan signing Moise Kean stepped up PSG weren’t able to stitch wins together. This poor run lead to Thomas Tuchel’s sacking and former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was roped in. The new coach didn’t mean better results as Pochettino struggled to find his tactics in a new league. Deservedly they trail by 3 points to Lille.

Their UCL form was different as they knocked out Barcelona but were losing to the likes of Nantes and Monaco in the league.

 The Challengers

Monaco were the team that ended PSG’s run with their golden team. Kylian Mbappe spearheaded their title charge in the 2016/2017 season which prompted PSG to buy him. They have struck gold with their academy again by producing Aurélien Tchouameni (21) and Youssouf Fofana (22), centre back Benoit Badïashile (19) and creative attacker Sofiane Diop (20). They sit firmly behind PSG now and 4 points of Lille.

Ligue 1

Fofana for Monaco (Image couresy Ligue1.com)

Lyon on the other hand are supercharged by their strike duo Memphis Depay and Karl Toko Ekambi. Shaking off the disappointment of previous seasons they don’t want to slip up in the title race yet and are only 2 points behind PSG in 4th position.

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Memphis Depay stepping up at Lyon (Image courtesy: OptaJean/Twitter)

Lille are the deserving league leaders. Having to deal with the sales of Victor Osimhen and Gabriel Magalhaes their activity in the transfer market was commendable.

Strikers Yusuf Yazici, David and Jonathan Ikone came clutch. Veteran centre-back Jose Fonte and youngster Sven Botman have formed a rock-solid partnership at the back. Renato Sanches, the golden boy rediscovered himself at Lille and is running the show from midfield. Christopher Galtier is marshaling his troops to perfection. Having taken 4 points off PSG they sit 4 points clear at the top and would like to close out the season the same way.

Renato Sanches the key man for Lille (Image Courtesy: Lille Official/Twitter)

Not A Farmers League Anymore!

Well, there are leagues that have had a single champion over the past 10 years. Ligue 1 at least had 2 different champions but yet gets the tag. This season might just make it 3 champions.

Yes, there is gulf of class between the top clubs and bottom half ones. This might be down to the financial aspect of the game. Not every club is state-owned like PSG and have a constant influx of never-ending cash.

Teams like Lille, Monaco, Lyon are built on sustainable models. They have to keep selling their best players constantly in order to raise funds and run their squads. In most of the cases, top predators like PSG buy their players and hence the competition dies.

Just when the league was getting interesting with multiple challengers there is an impending explosion. The cancellation of TV rights during the 19/20 season is yet to be resolved. This is leading to loss of revenue for the clubs. They are in a desperate situation again to sell their stars in order to run the club.

A little bit of financial aid for the league might help its clubs to grow in stature and shake off the tag of “farmers league”.

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