The French top football tier is imminently about to start! This Sorare Ligue 1 preview aims to give you everything you need to get ahead. Well known Twitter user Genesis gives us his thoughts on all things Ligue 1. Genesis is well known for his obssesion with all things French Football and having been on the Sorare a good while now who better to give us a Sorare Ligue 1 preview. So without further ado over to our friend Genesis!
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Ligue 1 Sorare Preview
Hello all, I hope you are doing well. It is that time of year again, Ligue 1 looms into view (starting this Friday with Nantes playing Monaco) and this year the legends at Sorare Hub kindly asked me to pen a preview for the site. I will keep it as pithy as I can. Although I might let my excitement get the better of me! I won’t get too technical or data heavy here. But can do if there’s an appetite for it. Also, if there are bits I have not covered here or if you have any questions, then do just hit me up on Discord or Twitter. I answer all messages…. eventually!
La Ligue des Talents
Ligue 1, La Ligue des Talents. A hunting ground for young talent for both real life clubs and Sorare managers alike. Especially those looking for potential value in young talent. With 15% of all minutes played in Ligue 1 played by U21 players according to CIES, its a happy hunting ground. The next nearest top 5 league is the Bundesliga. There, 9.8% of all minutes played in the league are played by U21 players. This season there are some absolutely fantastic young talents joining the league.
My hope is that Ligue 1 will be one of the leagues soon to be released in full as teased by Sorare’s Dan and Nicolas recently. Selfishly of course, as I love the league and my focus this season is all about the U23 divisions. Never mind Ukraine or the A-League…. the A-League?! Seriously.
The season that was like no other. Not just because of all the drama going on in the world outside of football, but in France because PSG did not win the league. A major surprise. Don’t get me wrong, Lille had a good squad, they deserved to win the league but they were very much elevated by Christophe Galtier. The best manager in Ligue 1. There will be no repeat for Lille in 21-22. They have a new manager, Jocelyn Gourvennec who is a downgrade. They have a weakened squad. Financial difficulties. And importantly, they have much stronger rivals this season.
Those rivals include Peter Bosz and Lyon. If pre-season is anything to go by, we can expect classic ‘Boszball’. Attacking vigour and defensive wobbles. Marseille have undergone full reconstructive surgery. As have PSG, who are in full ‘win now’ mode. While Nantes and St Etienne remain teams of both top ten and bottom three potential simultaneously.
Let’s take a moment to focus on and remind ourselves of the best SO5 players in Ligue 1 from last season, ranked via the fantastic Sorare Data, by their last 40 (L40) scores. Then we’ll look at each of the licensed Ligue 1 teams and their prospects. Then scouting some players no longer attached to licensed teams but with cards in the game.
There are not many surprises here. PSG dominate the season long SO5 rankings. I am very excited about Lucas Paqueta this season, and indeed, his midfield partners Bruno Guimaraes and Maxence Caqueret. Neymar is the king of SO5 – when he plays.
One point to make in general. Defenders are underrated, undervalued. Especially in the U23 bracket. Not just in Ligue 1 but across SO5. Centre backs specifically. Especially those that present a regular threat from set pieces (Marquinhos), those that pass a lot in their tactical system (Marquinhos) or those that are, what I call, cheat code defender, those that step up and play in midfield (Marquinhos). Consistency of performance, consistency of game involvement, the chance of decisive score with clean sheets but also goals. Marquinhos is obviously elite and incredibly pricey. Who else? Some will be mentioned below. Keep an eye out this season for Boubacar Kamara, William Saliba, Jean Todibo and Batista Mendy.
SEASON 2021-22 PREVIEW
Let’s now look at the Sorare licensed clubs in the league and gauge their prospects in the context of their transfer business and pre-season. I have watched pretty much all the licensed clubs’ pre-season games. And yes, that means I have watched more FC Nantes than most humans could naturally stomach. I will also drop below each team their SO5 king (some are obvious) as well as an U23 option that may be a little more under the radar.
Paris Saint Germain – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
Win now. At any cost. Harlem Globetrotters stuff. Although, PSG have not actually spent that big they have certainly brought in some serious ‘blue-chip’ players. They will rake in some great money from player sales this summer. Hakimi, Donnarumma, Ramos, Wijnaldum are all in the door. Neymar has extended. Pogba and Theo Hernandez possibly to follow? They will be an absolute force should it all click. Even if it does not click, they should walk the league this season. The spectre of Mbappe’s possible departure does hang heavy over the club. But they have a good enough squad to dominate without him. They also have a manager who is good enough to develop a system that can work with and without Mbappe.
From last season and pre-season, it looks like 4231 will be the default. Although Pochettino now has the option to switch to three at the back. Either way PSG will be an SO5 powerhouse from back to front. Neymar will be the SO5 King again. Are there any losers here? The PSG academy players who held hopes of being part of the revolution, at least for this season. As such expect some of them, like Xavi Simons, Timothee Pembele, Arnaud Kalimuendo and Edouard Michut to be the source of loan interest from other Ligue 1 clubs. What of Presnel Kimpembe? He now has stiff competition. The rumours linking him with a move away have already started. Kimpembe outside of PSG may not be quite the desirable asset that he is when in the French capital.
Predicted XI: Donnarumma, Bernat, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Hakimi, Verratti, Paredes, Wijnaldum, Neymar, Mbappe, Di Maria
OLYMPIQUE LYON – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
Finally, Lyon are liberated from a series of highly uninspiring managers. Welcome to ‘Boszball’. The fanbase are thrilled as Peter Bosz is a man with a philosophy. One that is brimming with attacking thrust, beautiful football and all importantly, one that relies on trusting the kids. Let’s not talk about the potential for defensive chaos just yet. I suppose you could watch their friendlies against Villareal, Sporting and Porto to see potential issues that traditionally run through Bosz’s teams.
Intriguing times at Groupama Stadium
Nonetheless season 21-22 promises to be a fascinating season at Lyon. Pre-season has provided glimmers of the fun football we could witness. Young players really have been given a chance. That’s lucky as aside from the youngsters coming through it has been a bit of a bleak transfer window, no doubt in part down to Lyon’s £150 million hole in the budget. However, things are not all that bad when you have Rayan Cherki, Maxence Caqueret et al from the academy plus the returning Lucas Paqueta and Bruno Guimaraes (big season ahead for Bruno) and a suggestion now that Houssem Aouar and Moussa Dembele might stay.
Plus, and it pains me to say it, Karl Toko Ekambi has looked dangerous in pre-season. We know that Bosz’s style can create high SO5 scores. From front to back. The seemingly imminent arrival of Andre Onana is an exciting one and a proof of concept. Bosz wants to pass from the back. It is going to be an exciting season, one not without wobbles. See those pre-season defensive issues again. But ultimately, I think Lyon will hit top 3 and please in the SO5 stakes. Aside from potential Leo Dubois Slayer Malo Gusto, watch out for Castello Lukeba, Florent Da Silva and Habib Keita to feature much more this season too.
Predicted XI: Lopes (Onana from November), Cornet, Denayer, Lukeba, Dubois, Paqueta, Guimaraes, Caqueret, Cherki, Dembele, Toko Ekambi
OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
The pre-season has been wild for Marseille and their fans. It feels like that summer you have about five or six seasons into a Football Manager save when you finally get a massive transfer budget and cannot help but splurge it all at once. It’s exhilarating. Pre-season suggests that we may see a more swashbuckling 3-4-3 Marseille. One properly built in Sampaoli’s image. However, such a long list of new personalities also has consequences. Marseille have so far added Pau Lopez, William Saliba, Luan Peres, Leonardo Balerdi, Matteo Guendouzi, Gerson, Cengiz Under and Konrad de la Fuente. All of whom will expect to start.
The consequences of such a splurge on Football Manager is that the AI punishes you. Your team cohesion hits rock bottom and takes ages to re-develop. In the meantime, your results tank leading to a morale collapse and disciplinary issues in the squad. Now, I am not saying that this will happen at Marseille. But they are not a club known for stability. They have, in Jorge Sampaoli, a fiery manager straight from the Marco Bielsa coaching tree. Add that to combustible characters like Dimitri Payet (still has SO5 value) and Matteo Guendouzi and it could be trouble. Let’s not even mention the financial consequences of failing to achieve Champions League football in 22-23.
Marseille are in the balance
Speaking of Guendouzi, he is facing his Michael Cuisance moment. Talented but fractious. Seeking to recalibrate at Marseille. It feels like he doesn’t many chances left. Expect Bouba Kamara and Dujan Caleta-Car to leave. Expect rotation and DNPs as Sampaoli seeks to keep everyone happy. Also don’t expect those young kids you gambled on (Ugo Bertelli in my case) to see the pitch very often. Keep an eye on Pape Gueye, he could have a very decent season in the pivot.
Predicted XI: Mandanda, Alvaro, Saliba, Peres, Henrique, Under, Guendouzi, Gueye, Gerson, Payet, Milik
LILLE – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
This could be tough. A win against PSG in the Trophee des Champions cannot hide what may be coming down the line. Why am I predicting such a drop off? Especially when the first team squad is not quite as weakened as many may have expected by this stage of the Summer. One reason. Well two really. First and foremost, the loss of the best coach in France, Christophe Galtier. Secondly, who Lille have replaced him with, Jocelyn Gourvennec. For reference see Guingamp’s most recent campaign in Ligue 1. Yes, that Guingamp. The one that got relegated with Marcus Thuram and Ludovic Blas in the side. Gourvennec was their coach. Furthermore, their thin squad and near rookie manager will have to cope with a Champions League campaign too.
The drop off
Pre-season suggests that Gourvennec will stick with the 442 that took Lille to the title last season. That is incredibly sensible. The system looked compact and organised against PSG on Sunday. However, Gourvennec is without key players Mike Maignan and Boubakary Soumare. Renato Sanches, Sven Botman, Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone are all subject to intensifying departure rumours too. Bamba is being linked with the MLS!! In line to replace Maignan there seems to be a race between old school SO5 favourite Odysseas and Pedrag Rajkovic of Reims. I still cannot understand why they have not made a move for Lafont.
One to watch out for this season is Yusuf Yazici. Expect him to play an even more important role this season. He has been playing as and 8 in the 442 in pre-season. That should be awesome for his SO5. I would also council against Jonathan Ikone. He seems to be regressing with each passing season. Keep an eye on youngsters like Isaac Lihadi and Timothy Weah who I think could feature much more this season as the number of games catches up with the squad.
Predicted XI: Jardim (for now), Reinaldo, Botman, Fonte, Celik, Bamba, Xeka, Andre, Araujo, David, Yilmaz
AS ST ETIENNE – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
Still under the management of traditionalist Claude Puel. A squad stacked with young talent. Can they top 11th place from last season? Maybe. I have them finishing one place better off. They could do a lot better. It could also all fall apart. They are in dire need of a good striker, Charles Abi and Arnaud Nordin are not it. They are being linked with PSG’s Arnaud Kalimuendo. He had something of a breakout season on loan at RC Lens. He is a cracking young prospect. Bullish, fast and with a dead eye for goal.
If he, or someone similar, arrives then ASSE could hit top ten or much better. A new striker would also be great news for SO5 creative threats like Dennis Bouanga (who might be leaving), Adil Aouchiche and Wahbi Khazri. Another dark horse to watch is young forward Maxence Rivera. Talented and well thought of by the academy. Watch out for him progressing this season.
So much talent
But, despite this, Puel is as much a burden as he is a blessing sometimes. He is old school. And that does not always land well with a group of younger players. His penchant for half time substitutions and dodgy team selections perplexes all onlookers and sometimes his own squad. Selecting Mahdi Camara, Mr SO5 consistency, as the captain is a sensible decision. He will be the perfect bridge between Puel and the squad. Watch out for Yvann Macon, coming back from an ACL, he has looked lively in pre-season. Etienne Green, of course will remain popular, is the starting GK and an U23 asset. Stefan Bajic may well go on loan rather than back him up all season.
To spend a minute on many onlookers favourite, I thoroughly expect this to be Adil Aouchiche’s season. He has been heavily featured in pre-season, has been taking all set pieces and with a full season under his belt as a pro I now expect him to kick on. As I said on Twitter the other day, if he can start to display his natural goalscoring ability then he could genuinely become an SO5 monster.
I also cannot write about St Etienne without mentioning my latest obsession, Lucas Gourna. Rumours broke this weekend that he is the subject of transfer interest from Atalanta, Napoli, Chelsea and a host of German clubs including Leverkusen. I cannot emphasise enough how talented the kid is. Watch him this season. He is immense.
Predicted XI: Green, Trauco, Moukoudi, Kolodziejczak, Macon, Gourna, Camara, Neyou, Aouchiche, Bouanga, Khazri (Hamouma)
NANTES – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
Last Season: 18th
Season 21-22: 16th
Last season was tough. This season is not going to be any different. Nantes will be bottom feeders again. The club is a basket case with an erratic owner and a dull and not particularly good manager. Yet, while they will struggle to score goals. They also managed to improve their defensive security somewhat after Antoine Kombuare arrived as manager last season. Alban Lafont seems to be less and less likely to leave this Summer which would be a surprise. He is crucial for Nantes, although he still has mistakes in him. But as an U23 goalkeeper starting every week he’s a valuable asset on Sorare.
The one eyebrow raising move Nantes made in the transfer market has been the securing of Wylan Cyprien. A creative force and set piece specialist returning to France after a frankly awful and disjointed season in Italy with Parma. I would expect him to be a starter and to horde set pieces from the off. He will be a new card to keep an eye on. The usual suspects will also remain solid, if more expensive, pick-ups. Ludovic Blas finally seems to have added consistency to his elite level of talent.
Randal Kolo Muani was a rare bright spot for Nantes last season and for France at the Olympics (except for his mindless red card). He is generating some major and well sourced transfer rumours. Milan and Frankfurt are on his trail. Lyon were also very interested earlier in the Summer. A surprise SO5 performer may be Moses Simon. I am not saying he’s going to be troubling the season long rankings. But he has the potential to hit high peaks on SO5.
Predicted XI: Lafont, Appiah, Pallois, Castalletto, Corchia, Cyprien, Chirivella, Simon, Blas, Muani, Coulibaly
OGC NICE – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
Not licensed, but they may as well be! Stacks of talent. Christophe Galtier is a brilliant, transformational manager. They now have a load of players on Sorare. Todibo, Bard, Gouiri, Stengs, Kluivert, Rosario. Most of them exciting prospects. They really are becoming Raiola FC though! This will be a problem in the future. I am surprised that the owners INEOS are being so naive. Tactically, it looks like Galtier will go with the 442 that brought him so much success previously. In friendlies Stengs, Kluivert, Hassane Kamara and even Damien N’Doye have played out wide. I would expect Amine Gouiri and Kasper Dolberg to be the starting pair up front.
It is also worth noting that Amine Gouiri has taken most corners as well as direct and indirect free kicks in pre-season, including an absolute howitzer off the post against AC Milan. He took the penalty in that match too, but I would expect Dolberg to come back into the running for penalties when he returns. When on the pitch Stengs has taken free-kicks and corners on the right.
INEOS will be expecting bang from their buck now that they have their man in charge. I am backing Galtier and his talented young squad to provide what INEOS want. For reference, see the improvements made in performance and results Galtier made at both St Etienne and, of course, Lille. He is the best coach in France. Perhaps, the best currently active French coach bar none. Galtier, plus the talent in the squad could and should be an exciting and successful combination.
Predicted XI: Benitez, Kamara, Dante, Todibo, Atal, Thuram, Rosario, Kluivert, Stengs, Gouiri, Dolberg
SO5 PLAYABLE CARDS AT UNLICENSED TEAMS – Sorare Ligue 1 Preview
The glory of Sorare is that if a card exists on the platform, you can utilize the player in SO5. Thus, there’s quite a few players who have cards in the game who are no longer at licensed clubs. OGC Nice, noted above, have a great selection of licensed player cards despite not being a licensed club. Who are some of the prominent others you should be keeping an eye on?
Alexander Nubel (GK) – Finally!! Nubel is free. It has been too long since Alex Nubel was being raved about, while at Schalke, as Manuel Neuer’s natural successor. He is a superb GK and a guy who should both keep clean sheets as well as get involved in the passing game at the back. I expect Monaco to do very well this season. His competition at the position, Benjamin Lecomte, is injured so Nubel has a free run at the number 1 shirt. Although I am not sure Kovac was keen on Lecomte anyway.
Martin Terrier (MID) – Along with Amine Gouiri, Lyon selling Terrier was a real head scratcher. Especially as he came good towards the end of last season. Has goals and assists in him, and Rennes are putting together an exciting young squad.
Jeremy Doku (FWD) – This will be his season. I feel almost certain of it. Could still refine his final product/decision making. However, he is a superb prospect both technically and physically. He and Kalmadeen Suleman should cause havoc for Rennes against Ligue 1 defences this season.
Krepin Diatta (MID) – I feel strongly that Diatta will get more minutes. He showed, in limited game time, glimpses last season of what had so many Belgian football fans drooling. Monaco will need to rotate, and they have not been that busy in the transfer market. The arrival of Myron Boadu in addition to Volland and Ben Yedder means that Diatta has quality finishers to bag the chances he provides.
Jean Marcelin (DEF) – Currently recovering from injury at parent club Monaco after something of a breakout season at Cercle Brugge. His hamstring injury could have him miss the start of the season. That means his price is probably somewhat suppressed now on Sorare. He is highly thought of in Monaco who bought him from Auxerre where he had been a diamond in their academy. I feel that another loan will come this season. Maybe into Ligue 1. Composed and technically gifted centre back…France produces those right?
Issa Kabore (DEF) – A fun attacking right back. Has some defensive weaknesses but let’s put that down to the exuberance of youth. He could be an attacking beast. He racks up major volume in attacking actions. Troyes, his current club, could be fascinating this season now that they’re officially part of City Football Group. Indeed, Kabore is on loan from Manchester City for this season. I expect Kabore to be an every week starter and deployed as a wing back or very attack minded full back.
Batista Mendy (DEF) – You may or may not have heard of Batista. If not, you can be forgiven. He was confined to the Nantes reserves for the whole of last season over his refusal to sign a contract renewal. Dispute it not, what cannot be disputed is Mendy’s talent as a ball playing centre back or defensive midfielder. Now with Angers and I expect him to be an starter for them. Take note, he’s classified as a defender on Sorare but has played every friendly this summer as a midfielder. His competition for midfield game time has seemingly left Angers. He has a clear run, if he performs at Angers I don’t expect him to stay with them for long.
Myron Boadu (FWD) – I joked about OGC Nice being all but a licensed team, well Monaco is not far behind. And Myron Boadu is likely their most exciting addition this summer (unless Boubacar Kamara joins of course!). I would expect him to become a weekly starter with Volland potentially playing out wide. With the likes of Golovin, Diatta, Diop and the aforementioned Volland creating chances, there’s a good chance Boadu bangs in the goals for a team I see challenging for second place this season.
Thank you to Genesis for writing such an in depth guide! If you are on twitter you should give him a follow you can find him here. Whilst we have your attention why don’t you check out how profitable some of the most expensive cards fared for returns in our article here.