6 August 2014 18:26
Champions Paris Saint-Germain begin their quest for a third consecutive Ligue 1 title with a short trip to Reims on Friday.
Laurent Blanc’s men were convincing winners of the French top flight last term as they held off Monaco’s challenge to finish nine points clear in another dominant season.
Blanc has since strengthened his squad by bringing in defensive duo David Luiz and Serge Aurier as the Parisian giants seek to continue the succession of domestic trophies.
Talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped PSG secure their first silverware of the season – lifting the Trophee des Champions in Beijing at the weekend – but Jean-Luc Vassuer will hope his side can offer a sterner test than Guingamp provided.
In their second season back in the top flight, Reims achieved a respectable finish of 11th but failed to score against PSG, going down 3-0 home and away.
While the champions will hope for more of the same this season, Monaco will be among those eager to challenge their dominance and they begin their campaign with the visit of Lorient.
Having replaced Claudio Ranieri with Leonardo Jardim during the close-season, Monaco will be striving to go one better than their second-placed finish last season but they will have to do so without James Rodriguez.
The Colombia striker spent just a season with Monaco before his exploits in the World Cup in Brazil prompted Real Madrid to pay a fee reported to be €80million to take him to Santiago Bernabeu.
While they may not have been lavish in their spending over recent months, the principality club have a fully-fit Radamel Falcao available again after a serious knee injury and the lure of UEFA Champions League football to attract further targets.
Jardim is not the only new coach in Ligue 1, with Bastia and Bordeaux appointing Claude Makelele and Willy Sagnol respectively.
The pair are former France team-mates and will now be looking to prove their coaching credentials, with Sagnol’s first league game coming against Montpeller and Makelele’s Bastia reign starting against Marseille – who themselves have a new man at the helm.
Former Athletic Bilbao boss Marceloa Bielsa will hope to bring some stability at the Stade Velodrome after caretaker Jose Anigo took over following Elie Baup’s sacking last term.
Hubert Fournier’s Lyon bow will come against a much-changed Rennes side at the Stade de Gerland, while the league’s three newcomers are all on the road in the opening week.
Ligue 2 champions Metz face a tricky trip to Lille, Lens travel to Nante and Evian are the opponents for Caen.
Toulouse travel to Nice looking for a repeat of their 2-0 win at the Allianz Riviera last season, with Coupe de France holders Guingamp hosting Saint-Etienne.