French Ligue 1
The top professional league in France is currently known as Ligue 1, and the league is known as one of the top leagues in Europe and the world. The league has bounced between 14 and 20 teams in its existence, and the top teams qualify for the Champions League.
The most well known international teams based in France are Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique Lyonnais, Olympique de Marseille, AS Monaco, Lille OSC and FC Nantes. These teams routinely qualify for and compete in the top European club competitions and boast fans both inside France and globally.
They also attract top players and managers from across the world.
Since 1984 all Ligue 1 clubs have had their finances and budgets managed by a French organization called DNCG to make sure all clubs are financially sound. The organization also monitors the rules of operation and defends the interests of French soccer.
In the 2000s the league has been dominated by the deep-pocketed clubs like PSG, Lyon, and Monaco
The process to start the league began in July 1930. Professional soccer didn’t officially exist in France until the implementation of the rules set forth by the French Football Federation in 1932. The Federation established three rules for clubs: They must have positive results in their history, must be able to make enough revenue to balance the books, and must be able to bring in at least eight professional players.
The first season was 1932-33 and the league was called National and included 20 teams. The first season featured Antibes, CA Paris, Cannes, Club-Francais, Excelsior AC Roubaix, Fives, Hyères, Marseille, Metz, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nice, Nimmes, Olympique Alès, Olympique Lillois, Racing Club de France, Red Star Olympique, Rennes, Sete and Sochaux
.Olympique Lillois won the first season, winning the final against Cannes. After the first season, the league name was changed to Division 1, reduced to 14 teams, and Ste won the 1933-34 title. The league had different winners in each of the first five seasons until Sochaux won a second title in 1937-38 and Sete won their second in 1938-39.
The league was suspended during World War II with teams playing regionally, but no champion was recognized between 1939 and 1945. Lille won their first title after the war and finished second in four straight seasons from 1947-1951. Nice won a pair of titles to start the 1950s and ended up with four in the decade while Reims also won four between 1952 and 1960. Reims also made it to the finals of the first Champions League in 1956 but lost 4-3 to Real Madrid, who also beat them three years later.
Monaco won two of the next three titles but the end of the 1960s belonged to Saint-Etienne. Based in east-central France, Les Verts won four straight titles from 1966-67 to 1969-70 becoming the first team to win more than two consecutive titles. With a previous win in 1963-64, Saint-Etienne won five titles in a seven-year span.
Marseille took the next two titles to start the 1970s and after Nantes won in 1972-73, Saint-Etienne pulled off another three-peat to take over the lead with nine titles. Strasbourg broke the run of titles by Saint-Etienne, Nantes, and Monaco with a triumph in 1978-79 before those three clubs combined to win the next four titles.
Bordeaux took back-to-back titles before Paris Saint-Germain, founded in 1970, won their first-ever title in 1985-86. Marseille took five straight titles before PSG won again in 1993-94. However, the 1992-93 title for Marseille was stripped due to a bribery scandal and allegations of match-fixing. That 1993 Marseille team was the first French side to ever win the Champions League with a 1-0 win over AC Milan in the final.
Auxerre won their first title in 1995-96 and after Monaco won the following season, Lens grabbed their first title in 1997-98. In 2002 the league changed its name to Ligue 1 and went back to 20 clubs. Lyon had never won a title before 2001-02 and they made up for it by winning seven straight, at the time a Ligue 1 record. Bordeaux ended the run in 2008-09 before Marseille took their 10th title to end the decade.
Lille won in 2010-11 and Montpellier won their first-ever title in 2011-12, edging out PSG. The 2012 season started a stretch for PSG in which they finished first or second for more than a decade. They won four straight titles before Monaco ended the run in 2016-17. PSG took the next two before Lille won in 2020-21 and PSG got back on top in 2021-22 after adding Argentine legend Lionel Messi.
The 1993 triumph for Marseille in the Champions League hasn’t been allowed with success as Monaco lost in the 2003-04 finals and PSG did the same in 2019-20. Paris Saint-Germain regularly reached the knockout round in their decade of dominance but struggled to come out on top with numerous quarterfinals and semifinals failures.
The LFP voted to return the league to 18 teams for the 2023-24 season. This decision will leave four teams relegated in 2022-23 and only two promoted from Ligue 2.
The Ligue 1 record book has been rewritten by PSG and Lyon in the 21st century. Lyon won a record seven-straight titles from 2002-08 and PSG set a new record with 96 points in 2015-16. They won 30 games that season, a record matched by Monaco a year later. The 2017 Monaco squad won a league-record 16 straight games.
Sochaux set the record for most goals and biggest win as they thumped Valenciennes 12-1 in July 1935. PSG set the record for the biggest road win with a 9-0 triumph at Troyes in 2016.
The 1994-95 Nantes team nearly pulled off a perfect season but still holds the record for least losses with one. The 2015-16 PSG team was the stingiest in league history, allowing just 19 goals.
Individually, Delio Onnis holds the record for most goals scored. The Argentine striker scored 299 times in 449 games between 1972 and 1986, playing for Monaco, Reims, Tours, and Toulon.
Josip Skoblar scored a record 44 goals for Marseille in 1971, winning the European Golden Boot. Zlatan Ibrahimovic came close to matching the record with 38 goals in 2015-16 for PSG. Two players, Jean Nicolas for Rouen in 1938 and Andre Abegglen for Sochaux in 1935 hold the record with seven goals in a single game.
Michael Landreau holds the record for most Ligue 1 games played with 618 between 1997 and 2014. Landreau played for Nantes, PSG, Lille, and Bastia. Jean-Luc Ettori holds the record for most games with one club, appearing 602 times for Monaco between 1975 and 1994.
Guy Roux managed 890 games for Auxerre between 1961 and 2005 plus another four for Lens in 2007-08. He won one Ligue 1 title in 1995-06
Ligue 1 odds work in two different ways, a three-way bet and a two-way bet. In the three-way bet there is an option of a draw but that option isn’t available in the two-way bet. All moneyline bets end after regular time plus injury time.
An example would be Monaco +130 to beat Saint Etienne +210 at home with a draw in the game listed at +240. In the second option, Monaco -110 with Saint Etienne at +120 and a draw isn’t an option.
There are multiple best bets for Ligue 1 soccer odds. Options include betting on the spread/goal line, betting on total goals, betting on team goals, betting on both teams to score or betting on specific player odds.
Betting the spread or goal line gives you an advantage and works just like a point spread in other sports. If you bet Marseille +1.5 against PSG, then you can still win the bet even if Marseille loses by one or ties the game. Most sportsbooks offer soccer odds on goal lines from +/- 0.5 up to +/- 3.5 at varying odds.
On the total goals bet, it works as an over/under in other sports. Most sportsbooks offer soccer odds with the total goals in half goals. For example, if you wager $100 on under 1.5 goals in the PSG/Marseille game at +120, you would win $120 if the game ended 1-0 or 0-0.
Each team has a total team goals option in soccer betting. In that same PSG/Marseille game you can bet on PSG over 2.5 goals or Marseille under 0.5 goals, with odds different for each bet.
Player odds are another option in soccer betting and there are a few options. You can bet on a player to score a goal, or a player to pick up a card. Options could include Neymar to score first at +210 or to score an anytime goal at +110, or Marquinhos to pick up a yellow card at +350.
Ligue 1 futures markets are a big business both in the offseason and even during the season. While PSG, Monaco, Lyon, and Lille have dominated the league in the 21st century, there are still good value bets to find in futures betting.
At the beginning of the season, bettors can find odds on who will win the Ligue 1 Championship, what teams will qualify for the Champions League, what teams will be relegated, and who will lead the league in scoring. These odds will change with results during the season and value can be found based on a run of good or bad results.
Looking at results from the end of the previous season can tell which teams finished strong, or struggled down the stretch. Also, take a look at what teams changed managers and which teams brought in new players for the upcoming season.
Ligue 1 is a very popular league for soccer betting as it is most readily available worldwide. However, not all the teams and players are familiar to bettors. Good research is key, learning the league, the teams, the managers, the styles, and even how the weather impacts games.
Finding out who is injured or suspended is key as well.
Also as games pile up on the fixture list, managers with deeper talent pools can rotate players which can impact the odds. Following teams on social media and getting a look at the starting lineups can help your betting bottom line.
Ligue 1 betting, like any other sports betting, requires discipline and patience. Shopping around for the best odds from various sportsbooks is key. Some books will have profit boosts or specials on a weekly or daily basis.
In addition to regular bets, you can also make parlay bets on Ligue 1 games at most books. Putting favorites together to both win in the same week can improve the odds and the return. But that also brings more risk as you need to win multiple games to win a bet.
A typical Ligue 1 season starts in early August and runs into late May. The league takes a winter break for the holidays in a typical year but the schedule is also going to change with the league going down to 18 teams in 2023-24. This schedule can fluctuate during World Cup years and even in years with the European Championships.
The 20 teams each play the other 19 teams home and away for a total of 38 games. A win is worth three points and a draw is worth one.
The top three teams in the standings qualify for the next season’s Champions League. The next two teams, at least, qualify for other European competitions and the sixth place team can as well, depending on the UEFA coefficient and who wins the Coupe de France.
Unlike England and Spain, France has a relegation playoff, much like Germany and Italy. So the bottom two teams are relegated to Ligue 2 and the team that finishes third from the bottom faces a Ligue 2 team in a relegation playoff. The winner of that playoff participates in Ligue 1 the following season while the loser plays in Ligue 2.
While maybe not as well known around the world as the rivalries in Spain, Italy and England there are still some massive games in Ligue 1 and French soccer. The top game each year is Le Classique between Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain. Paris and Marseille are the two most populated cities in France and typically these teams have the top budgets in French soccer. This matchup between the two winningest clubs of the last 50 years, is very heated, on and off the field.
Choc des Olympiques is the name for the rivalry between Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseilles. This game is also called Olympico and is contested by two of the only three teams to win four straight titles.
As with most European leagues, Ligue 1 has a transfer market in the summer and the winter. There are two transfer markets for Ligue 1 teams, one in the summer and one in the winter. The bigger transfers tend to happen over the summer while winter transfers in January tend to be loans or deals for players with expiring contracts.
Soccer fans around the world have become familiar with a lot of the stadiums used by Ligue 1 teams, especially after France hosted the 1998 World Cup and 2016 European Championships.
The Orange Velodrome in Marseille is the largest stadium at over 65,000 fans while Lyon’s Groupama and Lille’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy both hold over 50,000. Parc des Princes, home to PSG, holds nearly 50,000 while Stade de France in Saint-Denis is the national stadium, built for the 1998 World Cup but it has no regular Ligue 1 tenant.