Paris Saint-Germain may be overwhelming favourites to win the Ligue 1 title once more but, as our man in the French capital discovers ahead of the start of the 2014/15 campaign this weekend, there have been plenty of other changes since the end of last season.
The arrival of Leonardo Jardim in place of Claudio Ranieri at AS Monaco FC is perhaps the most high-profile appointment. However, two former players with exemplary pedigrees – Willy Sagnol (FC Girondins de Bordeaux) and Claude Makélélé (SC Bastia) – are also set to begin life in a top-flight dugout. Revered Argentinian trainer Marcelo Bielsa, meanwhile, has been charged with restoring Olympique de Marseille to the summit. Olympique Lyonnais have turned to old boy Hubert Fournier to succeed Rémy Garde. "I want to play attacking football," said Fournier.
There is much still to unfold before the transfer window closes next month. Monaco, for example, have lost James Rodríguez to Real Madrid CF and are sure to be busy in the coming weeks regardless of whether Radamel Falcao also seeks pastures new. Among the most intriguing deals to have gone through are Paris's record-breaking €50m acquisition of David Luiz – "we have no intention of stopping here," said Paris president Nasser al-Khlaifi – and OM's signing of Romain Alessandrini and Michy Batshuayi.
With UEFA EURO 2016 due to start in under two years, many clubs in France are reaping the rewards of new venues. Indeed, LOSC Lille and OGC Nice are already benefiting, while RC Lens are set to play some league fixtures at the Stade de France as reconstruction continues on the Stade Bollaert-Delelis. Renovation also carries on at the Parc des Princes, the Stadium de Toulouse and the Stade Geoffroy Guichard, while the new Stade Vélodrome is earmarked to open next month.
UEFA EURO 2016 venues
Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Lens
Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Stade de Lyon, Lyon
Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Stade de Nice, Nice
Parc des Princes, Paris
Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Etienne
Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
FC Metz, 1998 league champions Lens and SM Caen are the three promoted sides. Ligue 2 winners Metz were especially impressive last term, while Lens's return after three years away will put one of the country's most vibrant sets of supporters back on the big stage. Caen should not be discounted, for they can boast second-tier top scorer Mathieu Duhamel and have invested wisely by bringing in the likes of experienced duo Julien Féret and Rémi Vercoutre.
Having left its mark – though not literally – at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in May and then the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, vanishing spray is to be handed to Ligue 1 officials for the upcoming campaign. "I have always been keen on helping out referees, because what's good for them is good for football," said Ligue 1 president Frédéric Thiriez.
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