5 Bold Predictions for Ligue 1 in 2014

Nicholas McGeeContributor IDecember 17, 2016

ATHENS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17:  Marquinhos (L) of Paris Saint-Germain FC celebrates his goal with team-mates during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Olympiacos FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC held on September 17, 2013 at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Ligue 1 will return to action on January 11, with the race for the title stacked in Paris Saint-Germain's favor once again.

The year of 2013 belonged to PSG, who broke their 19-year wait for a Ligue 1 championship, but it also proved to be extremely profitable for the likes of Saint-Etienne, Nice and Bordeaux.

PSG looked primed to enjoy an excellent 2014. However, football is full of surprises, and here are just some that may occur in this fledgling new year.


PSG will win the treble

With big-spending Monaco joining the Ligue 1 party, and a new head coach taking charge of PSG in the form of Laurent Blanc, many would have been forgiven for thinking the capital club would struggle to match their success of last year.

Even the signing of striker Edinson Cavani from Napoli was viewed as a potential concern, and yet, despite those doubts, Blanc's men have shown imperious form so far this season.

Cavani has linked up well with Zlatan Ibrahimovic—the pair combining for 41 goals in all competitions—and that duo are supported by a strong spine featuring an ever-improving cast.

Indeed, with Thiago Silva marshaling an impressive defence and the likes of Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta performing on a consistent basis in midfield, PSG have the capabilities to win the treble.

PSG would prefer for the Champions League to be part of that treble but, while that dream may not become a reality, a bet on Blanc's men to win all the domestic trophies is a safe one.


Falcao to leave Monaco

It was always going to be difficult for Monaco to usurp PSG's throne in their first season back in Ligue 1 with almost an entire new team, and the fact that Claudio Ranieri's men are only three points behind the leaders in second is a great compliment to their efforts.

Most of Monaco's new arrivals appear to have settled well. However, the same can not be said for poster boy Radamel Falcao.

The Colombian's total of nine league goals is a disappointing one for a player of his considerable talents, although an apparent thigh injury derailed his Monaco career somewhat in the final weeks of 2013.

Monaco will hope that the former Atletico Madrid man can come back to form when the campaign resumes, but his display against relegation-threatened Valenciennes was a particular worry.

Falcao missed a penalty in what was an ineffective performance typical of a player bereft of confidence.

It remains to be seen if the 27-year-old can recover that confidence. Though, despite insisting that he is not interested in a move to Chelsea (via Sky Sports), it is not difficult to foresee Falcao leaving the Stade Louis II come the end of the season.


Montpellier will be relegated

Champions of France just two seasons ago, Montpellier's decline has been nothing short of spectacular.

Montpellier sit in 17th position in the division and are just three points above the relegation zone following a first half of the season that has seen them win only two games.

Owner Louis Nicollin has moved to try and remedy the situation with the appointment of Rolland Courbis and the loan signing of AC Milan forward M'Baye Niang, but the fact remains that this is a squad bereft of talent in many areas.

Attacking midfielder Remy Cabella is Montpellier's only real player of European calibre and, with Cabella linked with a move away (via The Telegraph), do not be surprised to see La Paillade drop into Ligue 2 next season.


Marseille to miss out on Europe

Marseille's campaign has been a disaster on both the domestic and European front.

The Provence club did not claim a point in the Champions League and sit sixth in Ligue 1, with signings such as Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet yet to make a significant impact.

Marseille ended 2013 with a streak of four league games without a win, interim coach Jose Anigo failing to inspire any sign of a significant recovery.

The manager-less side are 11 points adrift of the UEFA Champions League places but just two behind Bordeaux in fourth.

However, Bordeaux are in excellent form under Francis Gillot and have bolstered their ranks with a proven Ligue 1 striker in Guillaume Hoarau.

Marseille possess plenty of talent, but Anigo's men do not appear capable of harnessing it at present.


Sochaux to stay up

Despite the appointment of former Zambia boss Herve Renard, the situation looks bleak for Sochaux.

Sochaux have stayed up on the final day in each of their last two seasons, but Renard's side are already six points adrift of safety going into the second half of the season.

Still, this is a side that possesses a good amount of attacking quality in the likes of strikers Cedric Bakambu and Emmanuel Mayuka, attacking midfielder Sebastien Roudet and recently acquired Marseille loanee Jordan Ayew.

In addition, Sochaux have the experience of escaping relegation and, after ending the first half of the campaign with victory over the Rennes, Renard's side are a good bet to build momentum and move away from the bottom three in the coming months.