In our Ligue 1 bitcoin betting guide, we preview the new campaign by taking a close look at the big four, analysing the betting odds and the race for Champions League qualification. After its relative success at the World Cup France have decided to implement VAR from the beginning of this campaign, which isn’t exactly good news for PSG’s Neymar. The Brazilian forward, along with Dani Alves and Angel di Maria, make the current champions prone to tactics that VAR will be looking stamp out.
Not that this should hamper PSG’s season. Their squad is so far superior to their rivals that new manager Thomas Tuchel will be judged solely on his side’s performances in the Champions League; anything other than comfortably winning Ligue 1 would be deemed a disaster for the Parisian club.
Elsewhere, Lyon are one of the most exciting young teams in Europe, AS Monaco always seem to defy the odds, and Marseille proved their quality by reaching the final four of last year’s Europa League. Only three of France’s four big clubs can qualify for the Champions League.
PSG effectively sacked Unai Emery at the end of last season and quickly replaced the now Arsenal manager with Tuchel, the former Borussia Dortmund manager widely respected for his gegenpressing soccer. Tuchel's teams like to press high, dominate possession, and create chances with quick vertical passing in the final third. Playing with a high tempo has long been a problem for PSG; hiring someone who demands gut-busting running is a positive move.
However, such is the gulf between PSG and the rest that it is difficult not to play dull possession soccer at the Parc des Princes. Virtually every opponent will sit ultra-deep and look to frustrate their expensively assembled opponents. While Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Di Maria, and Edinson Cavani look to poke holes in the opposition, new signing Gianluigi Buffon (the only addition so far) will have very little work to do.
AS Monaco (14.0)
Arguably the only team with a slim chance of challenging PSG are the 2017 champions, AS Monaco. They did well to finish with 80 points last season (13 behind the winners) despite losing Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, and Tiemoue Bakayoko. The looting has sadly continued this summer, with Fabinho leaving for Liverpool and Thomas Lemar off to Atletico Madrid.
Leonardo Jardim has continued the admirable job of regeneration, notably signing 16-year-old Willem Geubbels for £18 million from Lyon, but frankly there is no chance Monaco will amass more points than any team boasting Marquinhos and Thiago Silva in defence, Marco Verratti in midfield, and Neymar and Mbappe in attack.
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Olympique Lyonnais (14.0)
51-year-old Bruno Genesio enters his third season in charge of Lyon after being promoted from the role of assistant in 2015, and so far things have gone pretty much perfectly for the Lyon-born coach. They play a high-tempo brand of 4-3-3 that relies upon pace and ingenuity, finishing third last season thanks to the form of a rejuvenated Memphis Depay (19 goals, 13 assists in Ligue 1), Bertrand Traore (13 goals) and Mariano (18 goals).
These three were supported by Nabil Fekir, a highly creative attacking midfielder who is being chased by many of Europe’s top clubs.
Can Lyon hold on to their best players until the end of the transfer window?
Having witnessed the vultures tear Monaco apart in the summer of 2017, Genesio is keen to ensure Lyon don’t go the same way.
So far so good: Lyon have only lost Geubbels, who played just 31 minutes of last season. They have also added 21-year-old Tanguy Ndombele for £8 million from SC Amiens, a superb addition that suggest Lyon is fast becoming a desirable place for young stars to hone their skills.
2017/18 was a coming-of-age year for Marseille, with a series of emphatic performances both domestically (the 2-2 draw with PSG in October springs to mind) and in Europe (they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League) announcing their arrival as a major force. There are no star names in the Marseille team, just a collection of hard-working individuals thriving under the stewardship of Rudi Garcia.
His attacking 4-3-3 formation is defined by the triangles between Florian Thauvin, Dimitri Payet, and Lucas Ocampos, with Luiz Gustavo the beating heart in midfield. They are solid in all areas, from Jordan Amavi at left-back to Valere Germain up front, but not unlike Lyon they haven’t significantly strengthened this summer. 21-year-old centre-back Duje Caleta-Car is a good signing for £16 million from RB Salzburg, updating a defence with an average age of 32, but he is the sole addition so far.
Winner: PSG (1.10)
Winner w/o PSG: Lyon (3.0)
Top scorer: Edinson Cavani (2.10)