Right, so not many people outside of France really follows Ligue 1. It’s often considered more “defensive” and thus less entertaining, but is that really true? No, it most certainly not! Allow me to remind you that PSG put up five goals last weekend!
anyway, on to the fun.
So the long and the short of it is, you don’t need to speak French to enjoy Ligue 1, but it does help, because France, I hate to admit, is kind of elitist, and Ligue 1 isn’t broadcasted in many other countries. Sometimes setanta sports plays games, and it’s pretty popular in Africa (since about half our players are African) but to my knowledge, it’s just plain old not widely broadcasted.
Which is a damn shame, really, because have you ever just lost track of a player (think Makelele) who used to be in La Liga? Or did you ever wonder where all those fantastic France NT players play? Yep, it’s Ligue 1. If a player seemingly drops off the face of the earth, there’s a decent chance they’ve just gone to France.
A brief intro to the teams of Ligue 1 (well, some of them, I don’t have enough willpower to go through all 20).
Here we have the defending champions, Girondins de Bordeaux. Notable players include Yoann Gourcuff, formerly of AC Milan and current Player of the Year for Ligue 1.
jajaja this is how bad we are; I couldn’t find a team picture (so unless I’m being really stupid/disabled right now, we really, really aren’t doing too well). I am a PSG supporter. More on that later. This is Paris St. Germain; this is our crest. We haven’t won anything in a while, so I figured I would put Bordeaux first because they are possibly more exciting. Anyway, important PSG players include Claude Makelele, formerly of Real Madrid and Chelsea, and Gregory Coupet, keeper for the French NT.
Woah that’s a big picture. But they just look so happy! Anyway, this is Olympique Lyonnais, more commonly known as Lyon. Liverpool fans may currently know them as the team that failed to win against Fiorentina. Real Madrid fans may know them as Benzema’s old team. They won the Ligue 1 championship for 7 years from 2002 until 2008, which was a record and also pretty awesome. Players of note include Cesar Delgado, Argentine international, and Sidney Govou, winger of the France NT.
Olympique de Marseilles, my eternal rivals. When you think PSG/OM, it’s permissible to equate them to Real Madrid/Barcelona. Our derby is even called Le Classique, after the Spanish El Clasico. Wahoo. They’re the only French club to have won the Champions League. Notable players include Gabriel Heinze, Argentine national team member and former player for Man U, Real Madrid, and PSG, and Fernando Morientes, formerly of Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Valencia, and current Spain NT member.
And, as per request, we have AS Monaco FC, the only Ligue 1 team based in a principality. They've won the leage 7 times, and did pretty well in the Champions League a few years back, as well. Arsene Wenger used to be their manager, way back when. In the mid-80s they beat Bordeaux 9-0 and people still talk about that sometimes. It was kind of a big deal. In 2003, the year of their great Champions League run, they beat Chelsea and Real Madrid. Notable players include Park Chu-Young, South Korea's David Beckham (jaja i'm the only person who calls him that), formerly of FC Seoul.
I've had a request for State Rennais FC, more commonly known simply as Rennes. Unfortunately, their last major trophy was in the early 1970s, the Coupe de France. The club is the project of a merger between Stade Rennais and FC Rennais, which took place in the early 1900s. Recently Rennes has become quite famous for their youth system, which has turned out players such as Peter Cech and Yoann Gourcuff. It's other main claim to faim nowdays is the Ultras Roazhon, a hooligan group dedicated to basically peace and love. They use flares but avoid violence. Kinda nice. Notable players include Carlos Bocanegra of USNT fame.
This’ll be the last one. Meet Sochaux. They were France’s first official professional football team, although oddly enough they weren’t the first team founded. I’m a little fuzzy on the details here. American fans may know this club because USNT member Charlie Davies plays for them (well, played, before his car crash, Jesus Christ). Other notable players include Stephane Dalmat, formerly of Marseille, PSG, Inter, and Racing Santander.
Lovely, now we’ve been introduced.
Bordeaux is currently at the top of the table. PSG is currently number 9, which is not great but, you know, better than usual. This season’s going to be a good one! There was already a post on the Ligue 1 scores this weekend so I won’t go into that.
Instead, I’m going to talk about Le Classique for a bit.
It’s modeled after El Clasico, and the teams are PSG and Olympique de Marseilles. These two teams are two of the biggest teams in France, despite PSG’s current losing streak. Both teams have faithful-to-a-fault fanbases and things get…rather heated. We don’t throw pigs heads onto the pitch, a la El Clasico 2000, but an awful lot of rioting goes on and sometimes people get hurt.
Also like El Clasico, this rivalry has cultural/historical roots, again, province vs capital. I won’t go into too much detail, but here are the basics: Paris is the capital of France, as I’m sure you know. It’s also the main cultural and economic center of the city. PSG, for the record, is a 40 year old team from the North shore of the Seine. Marseille is the main commercial center of Southern France. The two cities have had a rivalry for a while, just because geographically and culturally they are so different. They also have very different political climates. These hard feelings have taken an outlet in Le Classique.
Le Classique often ends up determining who wins the league. Well, back when PSG was in the running to win the league, it did, anyway. OM has more wins in this fixture. There was supposed to be a Classique about a month ago, but it was cancelled due to swine flu.
That is the PSG Kop, home of the Boulogne Boys, the notorious PSG Hooligans, the part of this club I am ashamed of. BB modeled themselves after British football hooligans, but while EPL fans have calmed down a bit, the BB still is quite violent. They throw rocks at cars, set things on fire, and, tragically, in 2006, a boy was shot and killed during one of their riots (he was a member, but still). Unfortunately, efforts to stop the violence have been rather lackluster; there are severe punishments for hooligans in general in France, but the problem is that they often aren't caught in the act. Fans who are known to be violent are banned from games and have to report to police stations on matchdays. Sadly, hooliganism, particularly the BB, has been linked to racisim and antisemitism as recently as this year.
Ligue 1 works like this: the bottom three teams each year are swapped out with the top three teams from Ligue 2. Thankfully, PSG has scraped away from the bottom three as of late. Ligue 1 is currently made up of 20 teams, although they have downsized to 18 in the past. The top three teams in the league qualify for the Champions League, although only the third ranked team has to play the group stages. Ligue 1 is, apparently, the fifth most popular football league, behind EPL, La Liga, Serie A, and the German Bundesilga. St. Etienne, although currently towards the bottom of the table, holds the league record for most league wins (ten). The domestic cup is the Coupe de France.
Right-o! If you made it through all of that, congratulations, you are now adequately knowledgeable about Ligue 1! I’m not really sure what else to include here, so if you have any questions, comment, message me, whatever, and i'll see what I can do. And I can add to this post, or whatever. Obviously I’m a PSG fan, and I lived in France for three years so I have a wealth of knowledge waiting to be shared. Also, I’d really like to have people to talk to about League 1! Of course I love La Liga and EPL, but Ligue 1 is equally close to my heart.