Four way title tussle as PSG finally let Kombouaré go

It seems bizarre, but is true. The PSG coach has been fighting this fate for much of the season despite leading his team to their best start to a season in a decade and a half. But this is what happens when you have billionaire owners. Good football and success is not quite enough.

It is difficult to tell how the sacking will affect the squad. Carlo Ancelotti, if he takes the reins as expected, or even Leonardo, have the ability to guide the club through to the end of the season and is capable of leading a title charge. But PSG are in a tight battle with the teams around them.

Most surprising of all is perhaps Montpellier, who last year scored less than anyone apart from Arles Avignon, who finished bottom of the table. But this year, thanks largely to Olivier Giroud, they are on fire, and have scored more than anyone. Giroud is the Ligue 1 top scorer and is leading his team on an unlikely title charge, sitting three points off PSG at the top.

Champions Lille are a further point behind La Paillade in third place, and are on a superb run of form, unbeaten in 17 games. Les Dogues have been impressive and particularly so defensively, where they had the league’s best defence until a surprising 4-4 draw at home to Nice in the last round of fixtures. That game summed up much of Lille’s problem this year – they have been conceding cheap points at home. They weren’t last year, and need to step up if they are to lift the title. Without European football, they and PSG will both be free to focus on the title race, as will Montpellier, whilst other challengers such as Lyon have continental commitments.

For Lyon, it has been an encouraging first half of the season under new coach Remi Garde. They are five points off the top and very much in the race for the championship. Lyon have been better, though they have yet to accommodate the seemingly set to depart Yoann Gourcuff. Up front, Bafa Gomis has been superb and Lisandro Lopez is rediscovering his touch in front of goal. With a playmaker to focus their game around, they could rediscover their former heights.

Elsewhere, it has been a good season so far for newly promoted Evian, sitting comfortably in 11th, whilst Marseille have recovered from an awful start to the campaign and are now back in sixth, just off Rennes. St Etienne and Toulouse, along with Rennes, have looked good in the first half of the season and will battle it out for a European spot most likely. Mehmet Bazdarevic has taken a strong Sochaux and led them into the bottom three, a shock, and they will need to improve to climb away from danger. Those at the bottom are little surprise; Ajaccio, Nancy, Nice and Dijon.

It should be another fascinating campaign in Ligue 1. Four teams have a realistic hope at the moment of lifting the title. With uncertainty at PSG, a resurgent Lyon, consistent but unspectacular Lille and the surprise of Montpellier, it is anyone’s guess.