LIGUE 1 PREVIEW: PSG aiming to dominate under new boss Christophe Galtier

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Ligue 1 is set to return on Friday when Lyon host Ajaccio, before champions PSG get their title defense off and running at Clermont Foot the following day.

Having hammered Nantes 4-0 in the Trophee des Champions on Sunday, all eyes will be on PSG and whether they can impress once more under new manager Christophe Galtier as they look to continue their dominance of French football.

Sportsmail have picked out for five things to look out for in Ligue 1 this season, and how things could play out over the coming months in France.

Christophe Galtier has taken over from Mauricio Pochettino as PSG's new manager

Christophe Galtier has taken over from Mauricio Pochettino as PSG’s new manager

LEAGUE 1 OPENING ROUND FIXTURES

Friday, August 5

Lyon – Ajaccio (20:00)

Saturday, August 6

Strasbourg – Monaco (14:00)

Clermont Foot – PSG (20:00)

Sunday, August 7

Toulouse – Nice (12:00)

Lille – Auxerre (14:00)

Lens – Brest (14:00)

Montpellier – Troyes (14:00)

Angers – Nantes (14:00)

Rennes – Lorient (16:05)

Marseille – Reims (19:45)

*UK times used for all kick-offs

Will PSG finally click under Galtier?

PSG won the league by 15 points last season as they reclaimed their crown from Lille with minimal fuss.

Yet there was often a feeling that there was a lot more to come from the team. Kylian Mbappe was outstanding, and his individual brilliance consistently got PSG out of sticky situations, but new signings Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum failed to fire, while Sergio Ramos could not stay fit.

The side’s shortcomings were laid bare in the Champions League as they crumbled under pressure against Real Madrid.

Galtier must try to get the best out of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar

Galtier must try to get the best out of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar

Another season of Mbappe magic may be enough to win the title, but relying on one player is unlikely to satisfy Galtier.

Figuring out how to get the best out of Mbappe, Messi and Neymar at the same time ought to be a key focus. If Galtier can get the front three on the same page, PSG will be very difficult to stop.

Could Marseille be the closest challengers again?

Marseille finished a distant second in 2021-22, and they will have their work cut out to close the gap to PSG, especially after a summer of change at the Stade Velodrome.

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Manager Jorge Sampaoli opted to leave his role last month after falling out with the club’s hierarchy, and he has been replaced by Igor Tudor, who guided Hellas Verona to a top-half finish in Serie A last term.

On the pitch, Marseille have lost William Saliba after he returned to Arsenal following his successful loan spell which saw him named Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year.

Marseille have brought in Arsenal full-back Nuno Tavares on a season-long loan deal

Marseille have brought in Arsenal full-back Nuno Tavares on a season-long loan deal

He will be difficult to replace, but the French outfit have continued to do business with the Gunners this summer, signing Matteo Guendouzi permanently, while also bringing in left-back Nuno Tavares on loan.

On the opposite flank, they have added France international Jonathan Clauss to their squad, which ought to give them hope that they can have another strong campaign this season.

Will Lyon bounce back?

Lyon won Ligue 1 seven times on the trot at the start of the millennium, and have finished as runners-up three times since then. They are used to challenging at the right end of the table.

However, last season they finished down in eighth. It was a bitterly disappointing year for the club, and their Europa League quarter-final exit at the hands of West Ham gave an insight into their problems.

They played against 10 men for the majority of the first leg against the Hammers after Aaron Cresswell’s red card, but still only left east London with a 1-1 draw. The following week, they started brightly, but went behind just before the break and ended up capitulating as they slipped to a 3-0 defeat.

Alexandre Lacazette has returned to Lyon after a five-year spell at Arsenal

Alexandre Lacazette has returned to Lyon after a five-year spell at Arsenal

That tie showed Lyon’s soft center, but they have been busy in this summer’s transfer market, re-signing Alexandre Lacazette after his departure from Arsenal, while also turning to Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico and picking up former Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso on a free transfer.

Having brought in some eye-catching names, they should be aiming to get back into the European places this time around.

Any chance of a Lille revival?

It is still only 15 months since Lille defied the odds to pip PSG to the Ligue 1 title. They came crashing back down to earth last season, though.

Having bid farewell to Galtier as he moved on to Nice, Lille ended last season down in tenth place, 31 points behind PSG.

Another new manager has now arrived at the club in the form of ex-Roma boss Paulo Fonseca.

Paulo Fonseca will look to turn Lille's fortunes around after their disappointing 2021-22 season

Paulo Fonseca will look to turn Lille’s fortunes around after their disappointing 2021-22 season

He will have to cope without Sven Botman after the Dutch defender’s £35 million switch to Newcastle, and full-back Zeki Celik has also left to join Roma.

In terms of incomings, it has been a quiet transfer window for Lille thus far, but they have managed to entice striker Mohamed Bayo to the club after he netted 14 league goals for Clermont Foot last season.

Fonseca has a job on his hands to make his new team a force to be reckoned with again, but having previously led Shakhtar Donetsk to three successive domestic doubles, he may fancy his chances of turning Lille’s fortunes around.

Fonseca will not be able to rely on Sven Botman after he moved to Newcastle this summer

Fonseca will not be able to rely on Sven Botman after he moved to Newcastle this summer

An extra relegation place

Ligue 1 is currently a 20-team division, but that is set to change next season when it moves to just 18 sides.

This means that four teams will get relegated this term rather than the usual three, while there will also be one fewer place for those teams battling to get promoted from Ligue 2.

It will be interesting to see how teams react to this radical change of the league’s format.

With more points likely to be needed to stay up, will teams push for more victories rather than settling for draws?

This is something that managers will surely be weighing up as the season gets underway.

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