Ligue 1 title favourites: Contenders for this season’s French top-flight title explained
The Ligue 1 season is approaching its final sprint and four teams can still win the title.
Just six points separate the top four heading into the final three games of the 2020/21 campaign, with defending champions PSG battling it out with Lille, Monaco and Lyon for French football’s biggest prize.
Find the latest Ligue 1 winner odds* for the 2020/2021 season here:
*You have to be 18+ to gamble. All odds within this article are accurate at the time of writing (16:00, 04/05/2021). BeGambleAware.
Who are the Ligue 1 title favourites?
Current position: 2nd
Remaining fixtures: Rennes (A), Reims (H), Brest (A)
After becoming quite used to running away with the Ligue 1 title in recent years, PSG haven’t been having it all their own way this season. A 4-2 win over rivals Lyon was sandwiched between a shock 2-1 loss to Nantes and a damaging 1-0 defeat to Lille, who subsequently leapfrogged the defending champions to the summit. However, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have a favourable final run-in, facing two teams in comfortable mid-table security, with only Rennes having something to really fight for. It will also be interesting to see how their Champions League semi-final result affects their mentality.
- Neymar: The Brazil international may have just seven Ligue 1 goals to his name this season but still shows his supreme skill on the big occasions, especially in the Champions League. He may frustrate opposition players and supporters, but that is mostly due to the fact he’s so ridiculously skilful, dribbling past defenders as if they’re not even there and delivering perfectly weighted passes onto a pinhead of his fellow attackers. Given his pedigree and sheer talent, there’s nothing stopping him dropping a glut of goals between now and the end of the season (unless he gets sent off again).
- Kylian Mbappe: While Neymar spent the best part of the previous decade chasing Ballon d’Or validation, Kylian Mbappe is likely to spend the next decade dominating that particular award alongside Erling Haaland. Given he’s already approaching 200 goals for club and country combined, it’s terrifying to think Mbappe is still only 22 but even at such a young age, he shoulders a massive burden in the final third for PSG. Like Neymar, Mbappe is lightning-fast, mesmeric with the ball at his feet and ruthlessly clinical in front of goal. The two of them combined present a terrifying prospect for pretty much every team in world football, let alone those PSG will face in Ligue 1.
Current position: 1st
Remaining fixtures: Lens (A), Saint-Etienne (H), Angers (A)
Without a title since 2011, Lille are in a wonderful position heading into the final stretch of the season. Christoph Galtier’s side are one point clear at the top of the table and aside from a trip to local rivals Lens, face sides in the lower reaches of Ligue 1. Les Dogues have a wonderful blend of youth and experience within their ranks that will, hopefully, complement each other perfectly to end PSG’s stranglehold on French football.
- Burak Yilmaz: Initially thought to be nothing more than a depth signing, 35-year-old Burak Yilmaz has played a huge role in Lille’s title tilt so far. Sure, his experience has undoubtedly elevated the level of those around him, but Yilmaz has contributed plenty himself, too, scoring 15 goals across Ligue 1 and Europa League play combined so far. The Turkey international is an incredibly clinical finisher, both from long range and in the box, while his lack of pace is counterbalanced by great ability with the ball at his feet, holding it up and laying it off to bring his midfielders into play. Across the campaign he has also been building up a decent partnership with Jonathan David, which came into fruition against Nice.
- Jose Fonte: At 37 years old, it’s absolutely remarkable that Jose Fonte has missed just one Ligue 1 game all season. The Portugal international has been an absolute colossus at the back for Lille, making more clearances (127) and blocks (21) than any other player at the club, while calling his wealth of experience to anchor a defence containing the much younger Sven Botman and Mehmet Celik. Like Yilmaz further forward, Fonte will play a key role in maintaining calm among Galtier’s ranks during the run-in.
Current position: 3rd
Remaining fixtures: Reims (A), Rennes (H), Lens (A)
The last team not named PSG to win a French title, Monaco recovered from a poor 2019/20 showing to throw themselves right back into the mix this season under Niko Kovac. Les Monégasques are third, five points adrift of the summit and boasting the second-best attacking record in the French top-flight. However, some believe their title hopes ended with a defeat to Lyon at the weekend, while they still have to face fifth-placed Lens and Rennes, who are seventh.
- Wissam Ben Yedder: After scoring 30 goals across all competitions for Sevilla in 2018/19, Wissam Ben Yedder likely had the pick of a host of European giants in terms of a move. Joining Monaco that summer was something of a shock but the France international has certainly delivered, netting 39 times in 65 games since, including 19 times in Ligue 1 this season. No Monaco player has surpassed his total and aside from the goals, Ben Yedder also plays a key role in holding up the ball and bringing the likes of Kevin Volland and Sofiane Diop into play.
- Aleksandr Golovin: While Ben Yedder is Monaco’s chief goalscorer, Aleksandr Golovin is the man in charge of creativity. The Russian playmaker has already provided eight assists in Ligue 1 alone this season, despite being restricted to just 900 minutes due to a hamstring problem. But Golovin is now back in the action and might just provide the final-third boost that Kovac needs.
Current position: 4th
Remaining fixtures: Lorient (H), Nimes (A), Nice (H)
Lyon haven’t won a single title since their seven-year streak ended in 2008 but they’ve come close on a number of occasions, finishing in the top three eight times thereafter. Les Gones sacrificed their league campaign in favour of a deep run in the Champions League last season but this time around, they’ve remained focused on once again rubbing shoulders with the title contenders. However, six points separate Rudi Garcia’s men in fourth from Lille at the top and they require a lot of good fortune to end their barren run.
- Memphis Depay: Behind only Mbappe in the Ligue 1 scoring charts and with more assists than any other player at the club, Memphis Depay remains the jewel in Lyon’s crown, even if he is likely to leave at the end of the season. Depay is a dynamic dribbler and incredibly intelligent, always finding himself in space to provide an option for his teammates while also dragging the opposition out of shape. Depay has been on fire for club and country in recent months and Garcia will look to him to keep the faint dreams alive.
- Maxence Caqueret: From Tanguy Ndombele to Lucas Tousart, Lyon have shed a lot of talent in midfield over recent years but in Maxence Caqueret, they have unearthed another gem. Though the 21-year-old still often rotates with Thiago Mendes at the base of the midfield, he has still made more tackles (65) than any other Lyon player while his speed across the ground and precision passing offer Garcia’s side brilliant stability on both sides of the ball. There are more glamorous players around him, such as Depay and Houssem Aouar, but Caqueret will play an unsung but extremely important role in Lyon’s title bid.