6 August 2014 18:25
Paris Saint-Germain look set to dominate the French top flight again after bolstering their impressive squad with added defensive quality.
The French champions won Ligue 1 at a canter last time out as they held off Monaco to lift their fourth domestic title by nine points.
Laurent Blanc’s men also won the Coupe de la Ligue, with the only remaining question mark against the Parisian side being their European record.
Since the club’s takeover in 2011, PSG have yet to get past the quarter-finals in the UEFA Champions League, but Blanc has strengthened his defence in an attempt to further boost domestic and continental ambitions.
David Luiz and Serge Aurier have arrived at the Parc des Princes and – failing an improved challenge from Monaco – both look set to pick up Ligue 1 winners’ medals.
PSG’s dominance and Monaco’s immense wealth do plenty to take the shine off the achievements of last season’s runners-up, who lost only four times on their return to the top flight.
Claudio Ranieri can perhaps count himself slightly unfortunate in losing his job – having guided the then Ligue 2 holders into the Champions League despite losing star striker Radamel Falcao to a serious knee injury midway through the season.
Ranieri’s replacement Leonardo Jardim will be able to call on the Colombian to lead the line this term after he made his return to action during the close-season, although James Rodriguez’s exit will leave a substantial void.
If Jardim’s reign gets off to a stuttering start without the likes of Rodriguez, Ligue 1’s chasing pack will hope to steal a march, with new coaches at the helm for both Lyon and Marseille.
Former player Hubert Fournier will be tasked with helping Lyon break back into the Champions League, while Marcelo Bielsa makes his bow in French football at the Stade Velodrome.
Bielsa takes over after a tumultuous season that saw Elie Baup replaced by caretaker Jose Anigo midway through the campaign.
Former Argentina boss Bielsa is not the only new coach in Ligue 1, with a host of famous faces set to take charge for the first time in the French top flight.
World Cup runner-up Willy Sagnol gets his first taste of club management at Bordeaux after a stint with the France Under-21 side, while former France team-mate Claude Makelele will do the same at Bastia.
Fresh from a coaching role at PSG, Makelele will face his former employers on the second week of the season after an opening-round fixture against Marseille.
Following drawn-out saga involving their financial situation, Lens were eventually confirmed as a Ligue 1 club in July where they will join last season’s second-tier rivals Metz and Caen.