The Story So Far In Ligue 1

With four games now gone in the French topflight, we take a look at whether the expected dominance of money bags Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco has already began to take shape.

Perhaps surprisingly it has been the fresher faced billionaires of Monaco who have hit the ground running, whilst their Parisian rivals have made a somewhat slower start. Considering Monaco are newly promoted and face the prospect of bedding in significantly more new recruits it would not have been a shock to see them make sluggish early progress – however Claudio Ranieri’s men have found themselves in top spot, with three wins in their opening four fixtures.

Inevitably Monaco have had their moments of struggle in these early stage – for instance, needing two goals from Emmanuel Riviere in the final seven minutes to see of Bordeaux in week one, whilst a 0-0 draw at home against Toulouse was hardly inspiring. On Sunday though Monaco firmly laid down the first real marker, with an impressive 2-1 away victory at a Marseille side who up to that point had picked up maximum points – further to that showing terrific character to come back from a goal down.

Encouragingly, record signing Radamel Falcao has found his feet early with three goals thus far, however it has been Riviere who with five goals up to now that has been their surprise star. Many had anticipated that this season might be a year to soon for Monaco, even despite the vast funds spent, yet the early signs are that they have the potential and the ability to go all the way – further to that they should only improve as the squad moulds and with the advantage of no European football some might say they are slight favourites.

PSG are firmly still in the mix and remain unbeaten, but with that said things are going far from smoothly for Laurent Blanc’s men. As recently as this weekend two stoppage time strikes were required to down Guingamp, whilst a further late goal denied Ajaccio famous win in Paris. The appointment of Laurent Blanc to fill the huge shoes of Carlo Ancelotti was already under scrutiny given his largely indifferent record, so their start, though not disastrous, will add further pressure.

The hope will be that their uninspiring form is just players adapting to a new manager – however right now PSG are without doubt being bailed out by individual moments rather than strong all round performances. Given the talent they have available that could yet prove enough to clinch Ligue 1, nevertheless given the strong start by Monaco it is likely PSG will need to improve significantly.

Outside of the two huge favourites, Marseille had been making impressive progress until that home defeat to Monaco – a result that highlights perfectly their position as the best of the rest. Lyon had also made a strong start to the campaign, yet defeats against Evian and Reims has brought home the reality that they simply do not have the resources to compete amongst the top clubs anymore. Saint-Etienne in these very early stages have been the surprise package with three wins from four, form that has raised expectations of possibly going one better from last season’s fifth placed finish.

At the other end Toulouse currently prop up the table with no wins as yet, not the return expected from a side who finished tenth last term – they are not alone in failing to taste victory as yet with Sochaux and Ajaccio both strugglers last term, also without a win. Bordeaux are another side who will be slightly disappointed by their early progress, currently sitting in fifteenth with just one win to their name.

It is difficult to read too much into these initial exchanges, yet you can’t help but be impressed by Monaco’s early progress and in particular that win over Marseille. For all the talk of PSG stuttering they only remain two points their rivals, that said they will surely need to improve if they are to overhaul their new rivals.