The 2022/23 season is about to start in all major European Leagues, slightly earlier that usual due to the players’ obligations at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. It will therefore be a unique campaign, with a break for a major international tournament set within.
Let’s take a look at some early odds when it comes to the French top flight, courtesy of 888sport.
Paris Saint-Germain – 1/9
It hasn’t been too hard to predict who would win the title in Ligue 1 for some time now, with Paris Saint-Germain vastly superior to every other club in France in terms of quality and financial power. The venture chaired by Nasser Al-Khelaifi won the crown of French football eight times in the last decade, which obviously speaks volumes.
Throw in the names of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and one Lionel Messi into the mix, and it’s clear why they’re considered huge favorites to retain the throne.
Much like Manchester City, who have arguably been the dominant force in England for a while, winning the Champions League remains an elusive dream for PSG, and even their squad worth close to €1 billion hasn’t proven capable of ruling the continent. Players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Thiago Silva, Angel Di Maria and other stars have come and gone without European glory.
But as for the domestic scene, it’s not very easy to imagine anyone replacing them at the top for a long time yet, unless another super-rich entity enters the fray in a similar way in the near future.
Can Messi get back to his best?
The football world received quite a shock when it was confirmed that Messi was about to leave Barcelona to join PSG last summer. The Catalans were simply in too much financial trouble and weren’t able to keep hold of the player who brought them so much joy over the previous 16 years.
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During his time at the Camp Nou, Messi not only won the Ballon d’Or a seven times, setting a record likely to be overtaken in the foreseeable future, but he managed to score 670 goals and produce 302 assists in 776 matches in all competitions . That’s about 60 goal engagements per season on average between ages of 18 and 34 – a truly remarkable achievement that, along with his Ballon d’Or awards, 10 La Liga titles, four Champions League trophies, and many other team and individual honors, has him down as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
As for his first season in France, it has probably been judged a bit too harshly with a strong view of his previous exploits. People seem to be forgetting the fact that most players take time to adjust to a new league, new system and new teammates, even Messi.
In 34 matches in all competitions for PSG, he managed “only” 26 goal engagements, obviously less than half of his average at Barcelona, and many are wondering if his days of glory are truly over, or if he will rise once more to dominate football pitches across Europe and against the best teams out there.
Much will, of course, depend on expectations when it comes to the question of people rating his influence on the team now run by Christophe Galtier. PSG have secured Kylian Mbappe on a new contract, and the feeling is that nature will take its course; that the young forward will gradually become the club’s leading star, if he’s not there despite the presence of Messi and Neymar.
Messi and Mbappe are obviously a great combination. The 162-cap Argentina international is set to embrace the playmaking role in the team, leaving the scoring goals mostly to Mbappe.
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But at the age of 35, we’re not very likely to see Messi as he once was ever again, except perhaps in short bursts of top form. It simply isn’t to be expected that a player who’s done what he’s done can reach those levels in the second half of his fourth decade in life.
He still can have a fantastic season compared to every other player on the planet. But he shouldn’t be compared to his former self. Not anymore.
Olympique Marseille – 14/1
One of PSG’s fiercest rivals, Marseille are one of the clubs that stand some chance, as feeble as it is, of ahead of the giants from the capital finishing. In 2021/22, they finished second with a 15-point deficit – obviously a huge gap to overcome.
In order to have a go, Marseille have so far signed the likes of Matteo Guendouzi from Arsenal, Cengiz Under from AS Roma, Arkadiusz Milik from Napoli, Chancel Mbemba from FC Porto, and Jonathan Clauss from Lens. It remains to be seen what head coach Igor Tudor can do with these players.
AS Monaco – 14/1
Monaco are one of the two clubs who succeeded in overthrowing PSG from the throne for a season when they won the title back in 2016/17. That, of course, was a team with Mbappe, Fabinho, Bernardo Silva and other players who went on to make notable impact in other clubs since, so it’s not exactly the same prospect anymore.
Further more, they’ve lost a couple of important players this summer as well, including the likes of Aurelien Tchouameni and Djibril Sidibe, but their attacking department has been strengthened by the arrivals of Takumi Minamino from Liverpool and Breel Embolo from Borussia Monchengladbach.
Monaco finished third last season, two points behind Marseille.
Olympique Lyon – 14/1
Another team with the same odds, Lyon have brought back Alexandre Lacazette after the striker spent five years with Arsenal, and signed striker Corentin Tolisso from Bayern Munich, both on free transfers. On top of that, they’ve so far managed to keep most of their important players, though the transfer window is far from over and there have been rumours involving Houssem Aouar and Lucas Paqueta.
The 2021/22 season was surely a disappointing one for Lyon as they finished eighth, with the likes of Rennes, Nice, Strasbourg and Lens all above, and still commanded by Peter Bosz, they will be looking to make amends this time around.
There obviously isn’t much to be calculated about when it comes to the French top flight, at least in terms of winning the title. PSG are the clear favorites, arguably standing out the most across Europe’s top five leagues.
The rest will likely be fighting to finish second and secure a direct place in the group stages of the Champions League.