For the primary time in 62 years, Ligue 1 performed a spherical of fixtures on New Year’s Day, and it caused quite a stir. The league referred to as it their “Celebration Week” — utilizing this time period in French and English — to assist market this distinctive interval, which noticed the French league internet hosting video games on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29 for Matchday 16, earlier than a spherical on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2 for Matchday 17.
The majority of followers did not appear to love it, so many of the Ultras boycotted attending the matches and those who went displayed banners saying “football is for the weekend.” It wasn’t simply followers who have been upset, both: Rennes supervisor Bruno Genesio hit out at Ligue 1’s ruling physique, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) for importing the concept of Christmas video games from England.
“I hope [LFP executives] will be at the matches… and that they won’t be at the beach on vacation, because they’re the ones who had this brilliant idea,” he advised the media. “I don’t think the players are exactly delighted. In England, yes, but it’s a different culture. It’s different.”
Nevertheless, Ligue 1 is again with a vengeance and 2023 needs to be a blast. Here is what to anticipate from the rest of the 2022-23 season.
Do we even have a title race? Yes, we do!
On Jan. 1, Lens started their new 12 months in unbelievable style with a luxurious 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain on the Stade Bollaert. It was a high of the desk conflict — Lens are second, PSG first — and the house facet took full benefit. Not solely did they lean on the unbelievable ambiance (with over 38,000 in attendance), however they seized on the absences of Neymar (suspension) and Lionel Messi (nonetheless on vacation) and of the complacency of the league leaders, who have been clearly not up for the combat and struggled to match Lens’ depth and need.
– PSG shocked by second-place Lens
PSG’s first league defeat of the season — and, in actual fact, their first in Ligue 1 since March 20, 2022 — means that there’s now solely four factors between the 2 sides and it’s extremely a lot recreation on when it comes to a title race. Both sides have solely misplaced as soon as this season and with no European participation on their schedule, Lens have way more time and talent to give attention to the league in comparison with PSG, for whom the Champions League is the first goal this season.
Sunday’s outcome additionally implies that Marseille aren’t too far again both! Igor Tudor’s facet are eight factors behind the leaders, four again from second place, and so they too have perception and momentum.
Gab Marcotti believes it is smart for Lionel Messi to increase his PSG contract, however feels there isn’t any have to rush a brand new deal.
Can Lyon salvage their season? Probably not
We’re not fairly on the midway stage of the season, however it’s been lengthy sufficient to see how insignificant Lyon are on this marketing campaign. Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Clermont at house, to an 87th minute penalty, noticed them booed by their very own followers. They are eighth within the desk, twelve factors behind third-place Marseille, with as many wins as defeats (7) this season. Their objective distinction is a mere +6 after 17 matches, and so they have modified managers — Laurent Blanc changed Peter Bosz in October — and homeowners — with John Textor finishing his takeover from Jean-Michael Aulas — this season as effectively.
What they provide with the ball varies from nothing to simply about sufficient. Despite the returns of former stars Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, regardless of the departure of Bosz, who was by no means ok for the job, and regardless of the rising abilities of Rayan Cherki, Malo Gusto and Castello Lukeba, Lyon has been frustratingly common. If they miss out on Europe once more, it will be a catastrophe for the membership and the brand new boss, US businessman John Textor.
Are Nice in hassle? Massively!
They are even worse than Lyon within the desk and their season has been much more of a catastrophe. Despite being owned by one of many richest males on this planet, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, by way of his firm Ineos, Nice are having a stunning marketing campaign. They’re languishing in eleventh place, simply eight factors away from the relegation zone.
It began badly with the return of Lucien Favre for a second spell on the bench, it continued with a horrible summer season switch window with outdated/subpar signings — Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsay and Kasper Schmeichel, to call simply three — and the outcomes haven’t been ok, with simply 5 wins from 17 video games.
This staff has expertise, however no path and seemingly no soul. The solely excellent news is that they managed to draw sporting director Florent Ghislofi, from Lens, to assist oversee their rebuild. He is likely one of the finest in Europe on this position and proper now, he is Nice’s solely hope for a brighter future.
Is the battle to remain up going to be epic? Oh sure, it should!
For the primary time within the historical past of the French high flight, there will likely be four golf equipment relegated on the finish of the season as they shift from being a 20-team, 38-game league to an 18-team, 36-game one. As a outcome, the combat to remain up as by no means been so tense or so tight, with Brest, Auxerre, Strasbourg and Angers at the moment caught in these four positions.
There are simply 10 factors separating backside facet Angers and thirteenth place Troyes, and simply 9 factors separating Brest and Auxerre, respectively seventeenth and 18th, and Clermont up in ninth. With margins that high quality, two or three wins in a row may propel you from doomed to mid-table.
Strasbourg, who haven’t received at house but this marketing campaign, full the underside four, although it is possible that these will not be the quartet to be relegated on the finish of May. They all have completely different points and types, however all they need proper now’s to pull the others into their combat.