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Ligue 1 explainer: How France’s top domestic soccer league operates

With Ligue 1 play kicking off this weekend, we’re going through some basics and what to watch for as the French league resumes play for the 2021-22 season.

Lille OSC And Fans Celebrate After Winning The Ligue 1 Title

Ligue 1 action kicks off this weekend as the top flight French league looks forward to its 2021-22 season. If you’re not familiar with the league, we’ve got you covered! We’ll go through a few common questions and get you up to speed on what to expect and what to watch for in Ligue 1 action this season.

Who is the best team in Ligue 1?

The plain and simple answer here is Paris Saint-Germain. Not only is it arguably the best team in Ligue 1, but it is the most recognizable as well. Even if you’ve never heard of the league, there’s a great chance you’ve heard of the club. PSG is home to some of the most recognizable soccer names in the world, including Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Ángel Di María, and Sergio Ramos. PSG was the runner-up in the UEFA Champions League in 2019-20, losing to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich 1-0 in the final match. It has absolutely dominated domestic play over the years, winning the Ligue 1 title nine times, the Coupe de France 14 times, the Coupe de la Ligue nine times, and the Trophée des Champions 10 times.

Who are the reigning Ligue 1 champions?

Lille OSC won the 2020-21 title, edging out PSG by just a single point last season. Lille finished with 83 points while PSG finished with 82. This is only the second team to have won besides PSG in the last nine seasons — Monaco won in 2017, but PSG won every single other year from 2013 through 2020. It’s been nothing short of dominant in league play for the better part of a decade. Lille will hope to go for back-to-back titles this next season with players like Sven Botman and Jonathan Bamba leading the way. They also lay claim to young Canadian forward Jonathan David who signed on with Lille in 2020 and has made 37 appearances while scoring 13 goals for the club since then.

Who are the best players in Ligue 1?

I’ve already mentioned a few players like Neymar and Mbappé who are not only some of the top players in the league, but in the world as well. PSG is full of them along with one of the world’s best goalkeepers in Gianluigi Donnarumma, who just won the 2021 Euro title with Italy earlier this summer. Defenders Marquinhos and Achraf Hakimi add some solidity to PSG’s backline while also carrying a hefty market value of $82.5 million and $66 million respectively. Other players to look for across the league include midfielder Eduardo Camavinga who plays for Stade Rennais, Wissam Ben Yedder with AS Moncao, Georginio Wijnaldum on PSG, and Renato Sanches who plays for current champions Lille.

We can’t leave newly-signed Lionel Messi unmentioned here, as PSG further stacks their roster by signing the 34-year-old to a two-year contract with an option for an additional year. Messi spent his entire senior career with Barcelona and although they had reportedly come to an agreement for a new contract, it was halted due to financial and structural issues within the league.

Who is expected to win the title this season?

Have I mentioned PSG recently? Honestly, it seems to always be the league favorite considering how many titles it’s won through the past 10 years. As Lille proved last season, it’s not a done deal until the final match day of the season. Monaco and Lyon weren’t far behind at the end of last season, with 78 and 76 points respectively, so both make a good run if things fall their way this season.

Who are some notable Americans playing in Ligue 1?

USMNT forward Timothy Weah has spent his whole senior career in Ligue 1, starting with PSG while being loaned out to Scottish side Celtic, then landing with Lille in 2019. He’s made 32 appearances and scored three goals in domestic play for the club since then.

How can I watch Ligue 1 in the US?

All Ligue 1 action in the US will be broadcast on beIN Sports, who has exclusive rights to Ligue 1 matches until the end of the 2023-24 season. They’ll generally show almost every single PSG game on television, but they’ll show other teams as well on their streaming service, beIN Sports Connect. You can find beIN Spots on all major television providers as well as fuboTV, Fanatiz, Vidgo, and Sling TV.