Why You Should Keep Watching the 2013-14 Ligue 1 Season

Nicholas McGeeContributor IFebruary 13, 2014

Paris Saint Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, of Sweden celebrates after scoring against Bordeaux during their French League One soccer match, Friday Jan. 31, 2014, at Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

With three months of the Ligue 1 season still to play, it is looking increasingly likely that Paris Saint-Germain will secure a second successive league title.

The Parisians are five points clear of Monaco at the summit of the table and, although Laurent Blanc's side were held to a draw by their closest challengers last weekend, PSG are heavy favorites to retain the crown they won for the first time since 1994 last season.

PSG are clearly a level above the rest of the teams in the league, however, the season is far from over and there remain plenty of reasons to keep watching the 2013-14 Ligue 1 campaign.

The battle against the drop

The fight for the title maybe a two-horse race that looks close to being settled, but the picture at the other end of the table is far from clear.

Bottom club Ajaccio look dead and buried despite claiming their second win of the season against Rennes last Saturday, while Sochaux are just a point ahead of the Corsican outfit.

Sochaux possess a talented manager in the form of former Zambia boss Herve Renard, but with just three wins all season and a dearth of a talent at their disposal, Les Lionceaux face a huge task if they are to bridge the eight-point gap to safety.

Yet, while Ajaccio and Sochaux face near-impossible tasks, Ariel Jacobs' Valenciennes—who could yet face administrative relegation due to financial difficulties—are very much in with a shout of survival after a surprising resurgence.

Valenciennes have lost only two of the previous six league games and have forced the likes of Evian, Guingamp, Rennes and Montpellier to look over their shoulders as the end of the season draws near.

Ligue 1 relegation battles are renowned for going down to the wire, and with 18th and 14th separated by just seven points, this campaign promises to be no different.

The chase for the Champions League

PSG look to be cantering their way to the title, but that's not to say that there isn't excitement at the top of Ligue 1.

Indeed, as many as four teams can be considered to be in the running for a place in the Champions League.

Lille currently occupy the final qualification spot behind PSG and Monaco, however, Saint-Etienne are hot on their heels, with Marseille and Lyon also in the hunt.

It is a race that promises more twists and turns with a number of the quartet still to face each other in the final months of the season.

All four of the sides involved are filled with quality, Saint-Etienne's Romain Hamouma and Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette are enjoying excellent seasons, with the latter arguably the in-form forward in the league.

Each of the contenders has struggled for consistency this term and neutrals will hope that continues to be the case in what could be an enthralling race for the prize of a place among Europe's elite.

An array of young stars

Ligue 1 may have seen a number of its best young players leave for foreign shores over the past few years, but there remains a core of excellent prospects that are well worth watching.

Many of those players feature on teams at the right end of the table.

Fabinho, Layvin Kurzawa, Lucas Ocampos, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and James Rodriguez should all be heavily involved as Monaco aim to wrestle the title away from PSG, while Lacazette, Clement Grenier and Samuel Umtiti will be among those key to Lyon's Champions League push.

Marseille are well set for the future with young guns Florian Thauvin, Gianelli Imbula and Mario Lemina already holding down places in the starting XI.

Nantes midfielder Jordan Veretout and Rennes forward Paul-Georges Ntep also have bright futures, and they are just a few of a host of players that make Ligue 1 one of the best European divisions to watch.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The French top flight is not short on quality, but one player stands out head and shoulders above the rest.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been absolutely imperious since joining PSG from AC Milan in 2012 and shows no signs of slowing down.

Ibrahimovic is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in world football and continues to prove it with a variety of increasingly spectacular goals.

The Sweden international has found the net 31 times in all competitions so far in 2013-14 and if he continues to score goals of the ilk of his recent stunner against Nantes in the Coupe de France, then the rest of the season should be compulsory viewing.


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