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Ligue 1 Title Race

After 16 games the Ligue 1 table gives few clues at first glance as to which team will emerge victorious, with the top half separated by just four points.

Lyon's captain Cris


After 16 games the Ligue 1 table gives few clues at first glance as to which team will emerge victorious, with the top half separated by just four points. Currently, Lille lead by a point from PSG and Rennes, with Marseille and Lyon a further point back and newly promoted Brest three points off the lead in sixth.

Lyon have dominated France domestically in the past decade, winning seven consecutive titles between 2001/02 and 2007/08, and they’ve finished in the top three for the past 12 years.

While this is the lowest leaders total at this stage in the past 14 seasons the next lowest two, in 2000/01 and 2002/03, still saw a fairly consistent top of the table for the rest of the year, with the top four in 00/01 all finishing in the top five and the top-two non-promoted teams in 02/03 both finishing in the top three.

Since 1997/98, eight of 10 leaders to have finished in the top half the previous year have ended in the top three (one other came fourth) with six in the top two. In fact 78% of the top-three finishers in the past 12 seasons had been top-half finishers the year before, while no promoted side has made the podium in the last nine years, as they historically struggle in the second half of seasons.

Excluding four years (04/05 to 07/08) where Lyon were running away with the title and at least five points clear of the field by now, 25 of the 27 top-three finishers since 1997/98 have been in the top six at this point.

So with the top finishers likely to come from the current top five it’s worth noting that Rennes have scored just 17 goals and having sold Gyan, Briand and Sow in the summer this lack of goals is likely to catch up with them, especially given they still have eight of the current top 11 still to play away.

Lyon have struggled this season and the big summer signing of Gourcuff has failed to ignite their team. Moreover, they are still in the Champions League and must still travel to five of the other six teams currently in the top seven and look poor value at 3.75 for the title. Similarly, Marseille must still go to five of the other eight teams now in the top nine and have a tough next five games so should be avoided at 2.75.

PSG finished in the bottom half last term and while they look to have bought well over the summer and have the talent to push for a top three finish they have played nine home games compared to seven on the road, unlike the other contenders, and at 2.15 for a podium place probably don’t have quite enough to get past Lyon and Marseille.

Lille finished fourth last season and as current leaders and top scorers they look decent value at 6.0, especially given their next five games are relatively easy and they’ve already travelled to five of the other eight teams currently in the top nine. Furthermore, they are no longer involved in Europe and can concentrate on the league.

Recommendation: Lille to win Ligue 1 e/w at 6.0, Sky Bet (ew, 1/3 top-two)

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