Ligue 1 Season Predictions
The French top league is heading into another season as the league was formed in 1930 and I will be doing a quick prediction of the league and the teams involved for this upcoming season. I know the League has already started but I unfortunately didn't have time to publish the predictions before the opening game last friday.
20. Clermont Foot 63
The club is heading into their first season in Ligue 1 and it’s a historic moment for the team based in Clermont-Ferrand (central France). They have been relatively inactive during this summer transfer window as the club doesn’t have the financial leverage to make any major moves. They have a couple young stars that could break out next season and 23 year old forward Mohamed Bayo is probably the team's best player as he has scored 22 goals and 7 assists in 43 games since joining Clermont Foot. Although this team has some potential, I just don’t see them staying in the top league.
19. FC Lorient
After finishing 16th in Ligue 1 last season with an 11-9-18 record, I see FC Lorient as one of the teams that are in danger of relegation this season as they were only two points away from heading into the relegation playoffs. They have had a fairly uneventful summer transfer window and the teams defense isn’t that solid as they conceded 68 times last season (third worse in the league). They have a few talented forwards that they could gain a good profit from to address other needs in the team. Terem Moffi scored 14 goals in 32 games last season, Yoane Wissam, Armand Lauriente and Adrian Grbic are the other forwards that are promising but a decision should be made. I believe this club isn’t well rounded enough to stay afloat this season.
18. SCO Angers
The club from Angers in Western France have been in the top french league for the past six seasons under manager Stephane Moulin who has done a fine job for a smaller market club. The long serving manager decided to part ways with the club to become manager of Ligue 2 club Stade Malherbe Caen. Gerald Baticle is his replacement and the 51 year old has been the assistant manager at Lyon over the past ten seasons but this will be his first real managerial position since a brief coaching job in 2009. Last season they finished 13th in the standings and they have been consistently in the bottom half of the league but have done a good job of avoiding relegation. The club lost left back Rayan Ait Nouri on transfer to Wolverhampton and that’s a big loss for the team considering they haven’t really improved this transfer window and are heading into the season with a new manager. I think it will be a battle all season to stay above relegation and they will finish 18th, which will place them in the relegation playoffs.
17. ESTAC Troyes
Promoted to the top league for the first time since 2017, Troyes had a terrific season in Ligue 2 where they finished in first place with a 23-8-7 record. Club manager Laurent Batlles has been solid with the team since taking over in 2019 with a 39-11-16 record and I’ve loved the moves this club has made during the summer transfer window. They acquired midfielders Renaud Ripart (3.6 million dollar fee from Nimes), Rominigue Kouame (2.75 million dollar fee from Lille) and Metinho (18 year old Brazilian prospect on 5.5 million dollar fee). Defensively they added 20 year old right back Issa Kabore on loan from Manchester City and 20 year old left back Yasser Larouci on a free transfer from Liverpool. The club has made smart decisions acquiring young talented players from major clubs and I think they will surprise a few people and avoid relegation this season.
16. Stade Brestois 29
A 17th place finish last season for the club as they narrowly avoided the relegation playoffs by one point with a 11-8-19 record. Michel Der Zakarian is taking over as manager this season and the Armenian has been coaching in Ligue 1 since 2012 with Nantes, Reims and Montpellier most recently. The club lost star left back Romain Perraud to Southampton and their replacement is 27 year old Finland defender Jere Uronen from KRC Genk. The club is fairly underwhelming compared to the rest of Ligue 1 but they might still have enough to remain in ligue 1.
15. FC Nantes
After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, FC Nantes is under some serious pressure by fans and the owner to get the job done heading into the 2021/22 season. The club rotated through three managers last season and they remain with Antoine Kombouare who helped pull them out of relegation with a 7-3-6 record to close out the season. The club added a new keeper in Alban Lafont for a transfer fee of 8.25 million from Fiorentina and they added midfielder Wylan Cyprien on loan from Parma in the Serie A. I could definitely see this team finishing closer to 10th place in the standings but last season's relegation scare is still in the back of my mind.
14. RC Lens
A fantastic season for RC Lens last year as they finished 7th in Ligue 1 with 15-12-11 record in their first year in Ligue 1 since 2015 after spending the previous five years in Ligue 2. Franck Haise has been impressive as manager getting the most out of his players over the past two seasons and he hopes to bring RC Lens up to title contention and win the league like their rivals Lille did last season. The club has some exciting players like 22 year old Argentianian defender Facundo Medina and Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana but overall this team really lacks the top end quality that gives me confidence in them reaching the top 10 in back to back seasons.
13. RC Strasbourg
The French club located in the beautiful city of Strasbourg on the border between France and Germany is entering their fifth straight season in Ligue 1 after finishing 15th last season with an 11-9-18 record. They have yet to finish better than 10th place during this tenure in the top league. This summer transfer window they lost star defender Mohamed Simakan and veteran Stefan Mitrovic and they have yet to really find a replacement for them. The club has a new manager in charge this season with Julien Stephan making the change over to Strasbourg from Rennes after a poor finish to the season last year. I’m not writing off this club entirely though because they have a very lethal attack with Ludovic Ajorque (16 goals last season) and Habib Diallo (9 goals last season) and one of my all time favorite keepers with Japanese legend Eiji Kawashima.
12. Stade Reims
A poor season last year for Stade Reims as the club finished 14th in the league after consecutive seasons in the top 10. The club has appointed Oscar Garcia as their new manager and while he did have success from 2015-17 with Red Bull Salzburg, his last coaching job with Celta in the Spanish league was a major challenge as he finished with a 8-17-13 record. Their goaltending is pretty dependent on the play of Predrag Rajkovic as the 25 year old is a solid keeper but the club really doesn’t have a lot of depth at the position. The team has a fairly average squad overall with a lot of depth and in particular on offense with plenty of options but no real stand out players. I think 12th place might be underplaying this club a bit but they just need to prove to me that they belong in the top 10.
11. AS Saint Etienne
This club should be able to compete in the top ten and maybe even the top five next season but they have a couple major question marks that I just can’t ignore. They finished 11th last season with a 12-10-16 record and that was a nice improvement from a 17th place finish during the 2019/20 campaign. Prior to the last two seasons, this club was finishing in the top 10 in nine consecutive seasons. They have a fairly solid midfield with a couple young stars in Adil Aouchiche and Lucas Gourna-Douath but i’m concerned with the club defensively. All three keepers entering this season are under 21 with a combined 10 Ligue 1 games between them so this is a major risk if Etienne Green or Stefan Bajic struggle. The defense ahead of these new keepers also feels a bit lackluster compared to the rest of the league and it should definitely be a concern for manager Claude Puel. I’m sticking with mid-table for my prediction for Saint Etienne but I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished top five or bottom five this season.
It wasn’t that long ago that Bordeaux was a constant threat to win the title and this French club won three titles in the span of four years during the 1980s but the past three seasons have been subpar by their standards. I am very excited for this season to watch what Bordeaux can do under their new manager Vladimir Petkovic who was the manager of Switzerland for the past seven seasons with a respectable 41-18-19 record. The club has been fairly quiet during the transfer window but I suspect Petkovic will make some moves before the window closes. The club is fairly solid with plenty of options and combinations in the forward group. Based on the way Switzerland's midfield has run over the past few seasons, I think a couple of players to watch are Toma Basic and Yacine Adli. I really wanted to place them higher in my predictions but I can’t justify it.
9. FC Metz
I think FC Metz are a fairly underrated French club and I feel like they can improve slightly from a tenth place finish last season. They have a lot of young talent on this squad such as Ibrahima Niane, Pape Sarr and Papa Ndiaga Yade. My biggest concern is this team defensively as they don't have a star keeper and very few standout players on that back line. This team could easily fall into the bottom half this season but I'm having faith that Frederic Antonetti can lead them to another successful season.
This club has finished 8th place in consecutive seasons and I think they can once again finish there but the appointment of manager Olivier Dall'Oglio I think hurts them more than it helps this squad. The summer transfer window was fairly solid as Montpellier acquired two free transfer players with defender Mamadou Sakho from Crystal Palace and midfielder Leo Leroy from LB Chateauroux. At the end of the day this squad has quality players to keep them in the top half of the league like Andy Delort, Gaetan Laborde and Teji Savanier.
7. Stade Rennais FC
The prediction for this club is heavily dependant on the future of Eduardo Camavinga and if the club decides to transfer him before his contract expires in the summer of 2022. The 18 year old is one of the most exciting players in France and a major reason why this club could challenge for a top three position in the league. They spend some money this transfer window acquiring great players like Loic Bade and Kamaldeen Sulemana but I'm still nervous on the whole Camavinga situation. Very talented squad though and should definitely challenge for a top five position in the league.
This is probably coming as a surprise to a lot of people after Lille won the league last season but it's going to be extremely hard to defend their title this season. They are entering the season with a new manager as Jocelyn Gourvennec takes control of the squad and his coaching record isn't super impressive. The team lost a couple key players this transfer window with starting goalkeeper Mike Maignan going to AC Milan for 14 million dollars and defensive midfielder Boubakary Soumare going to Leicester City for 22 million dollars. They still kept Renato Sanches, Jonathan David and Sven Botman among others but I feel like they will drop slightly from last season.
Marseille have been a consistently finishing in the top five teams of the league in five straight seasons and this team is build to continue that streak. They have made some of the smartest loan decisions with Arkadiusz Milik on loan from Napoli, Cengiz Under on loan from Roma, Matteo Guendouzi and William Saliba on loan from Arsenal and finally goalkeeper Pau Lopez on loan from Roma. I think each of these loan players will be crucial this season for Marseille and they will once again finish in the top five of Ligue 1.
I think Nice are overlooked by some fans and experts covering Ligue 1 because this team is very capable of making a run towards a title this season. The club has a new manager as last seasons champion Christophe Galtier joins Nice after spending four seasons with Lille. Defensively there are some concerns but the additions made so far from Galtier have been brilliant and I think he can direct this team to a top five finish. Attacking options of Justin Kluivert, Calvin Stengs, Amine Gouiri and Kasper Dolberg is just fantastic and I can't wait to see this season unfold for them.
A very good squad with a terrific midfield that has the likes of Thiago Mendes, Houssem Aouar, Bruno Guimaraes, Rayan Cherki and others. I feel like Lyon are a fairly safe bet to finish in the top five this season and much like Marseille they have just been so consistent at finishing near the top every year.
Niko Kovac was terrific with them last season and the former Bayern Munich manager really pulled this club back up to where they belong after a couple awful seasons including a 17th place finish in 2019. The talent is as strong as ever with superstar players such as Kevin Volland, Wissam Ben Yedder, Aleksandr Golovin and Axel Disasi among just a few of the names on this squad. second place feels like a good spot for Monaco and a slight improvement from a third place finish last season.
It has to be PSG finishing first place this season after one of the greatest transfer windows in European football history. The additions include Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Danilo Pereira and Sergio Ramos. This team should set records this season and they should be favorites to win the Champions League while dominating Ligue 1.