Lyon is bidding for a seventh successive title in France's Ligue 1, which begins its 2007-08 season on Saturday, but it should get a serious challenge from Marseille, which is looking for its first
title in more than a decade. Here's the case for and against Lyon and Marseille. CASE FOR LYON.
Lyon started to look stale after opening
up a huge lead in the first half of the 2006-07 season, so there was a shakeup in the offseason.
OL has a new coach in Alain Perrin
. Mathieu Bodmer
and Ivorian Kader Keita
were signed from
Lille and should provide help in midfield. Italian international Fabio Grosso
will take over at left back.
Lyon is also the deepest team in France
with exciting young forwards Karim Benzema
and Hatem Ben Harfa
still looking to gain permanent spots in the first
team. CASE AGAINST LYON.
Lyon lost three of its best players -- France midfielder Florent Malouda
moved to Chelsea, France left back Eric Abidal
signed with Barcelona, and Portugal midfielder Tiago
OL collected more than $70 million in offseason transfers.
The biggest loss is goalie and team leader Gregory Coupet
, out of action until at least
the middle of November after suffering a freak knee injury in training on Thursday when after his foot got caught in the net. Coupet tried to look on the positive side of the injury.
"That's life," Coupet told his club's television channel, OL-TV. "It's not the end of the world. I heard a crack and I feared it could be much worse. The good side to it is that we have a rugby
World Cup coming and I'll be able to enjoy every bit of it." CASE FOR MARSEILLE.
OM has France's new star, playmaker Samir Nasri
, being hailed as the new Zinedine Zidane
, and France striker Djibril
, is back and healthy after its loan deal with Liverpool was turned into a transfer.
Dutch star Boudewijn Zenden
was signed from
Liverpool and will be a major force on the left wing. Marseille also added central defender Gael Givet
from Monaco and Algeria midfielder Karim Ziani
"For three years," says Marseille president Pape Diouf
, "our goal has been to improve
each year. This year our goal is to again qualify for the Champions League but in a little easier fashion."
The acquisition of Givet and Ziani was to give OM some more experience.
CASE AGAINST MARSEILLE.
Since returning to the First Division after the scandals of 1993 and its forced relegation in 1994, OM has not won a major
trophy. Franck Ribery
, the best player in Ligue 1, left OM for Bayern Munich in a $32 million transfer deal.
LIGUE 1 OPENING WEEKEND Aug. 4
Strasbourg vs. Marseille
Caen vs. Nice
Paris SG vs. Sochaux
Bordeaux vs. Lens
Monaco vs. St. Etienne
Rennes vs. Nancy
Valenciennes vs. Toulouse
Lille vs. Lorient Aug. 5
Le Mans vs. Metz
Lyon vs. Auxerre