AS Monaco FC look set to provide champions Paris Saint-Germain FC with mouthwatering competition during the 2013/14 Ligue 1 campaign.
The 75th edition of the French top flight, which starts with PSG travelling to Montpellier Hérault SC on Friday, may well contain more stellar talent than ever before. PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu described last season's title triumph as "only the beginning of our domination", but even he could not have expected promoted Monaco to make such sizeable strides over the summer.
Those two clubs seem certain to head a chasing pack led by the likes of 2012/13 runners-up Olympique de Marseille and UEFA Champions League contenders Olympique Lyonnais.
Back at the top table after two years in Ligue 2, Claudio Ranieri's Monaco have brought in a host of big names including João Moutinho, James Rodríguez, Falcao, Ricardo Carvalho, Éric Abidal and Jérémy Toulalan. Owned by wealthy businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, Monaco are aiming for the stars. The Russian said: "We have come from Ligue 2 with great ambition, with the primary aim of getting back into the UEFA Champions League. Monaco will also have the advantage of not playing in Europe this season."
PSG, though, are not prepared to hand over their crown without a fight. Monaco may have been first out of the blocks with the acquisition of Falcao from Club Atlético de Madrid, yet PSG responded in kind by signing SSC Napoli's Edinson Cavani, an equally revered striker.
How the Uruguayan international will fare alongside the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimović has been the subject of much debate in the capital since Cavani's arrival. Indeed, such has been the busy nature of this summer's transfer window, the departure of Carlo Ancelotti and appointment of Laurent Blanc has gone largely under the radar.
"They are ready for the highest European level," said Marseille coach Élie Baup when asked about PSG and Monaco. "I am focusing on how we respond to that – we are not beaten before the start. They have bazookas, but we won't respond with only bows and arrows. We will try to find an answer."
OM, however, appear destined to vie for third spot along with Lyon and AS Saint-Étienne. Much is also expected of OGC Nice – though Monaco and PSG will very probably steal the show.
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