The Ligue1 is often considered as a platform for youngsters to develop themselves before making a move to a bigger club in England, Spain Italy and Germany. Apart from Paris Saint-Germain, who are backed by rich owners, Ligue 1 clubs are hardly in the reckoning to win the Champions League.
In recent years, Ligue 1 has been criticised for being a one-horse race, with Paris Saint Germain winning the league title seven times in the past eight seasons. The story of the 2019-20 season was the same as PSG were crowned champions after the French government decided to end the season early amidst coronavirus fears. However, the recently-concluded season has given us more to talk about than just PSG.
The rise of young talents in Ligue 1 this season has caught the eyes of one and all. Players like Eduardo Camavinga and Victor Osimhen had a breakthrough season, while Monaco were almost carried single-handedly by Wissam Ben Yedder, who topped the goalscoring charts alongside Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, with both netting 18 times each. As a result, Ligue 1’s the Team of the Season is not entirely dominated by PSG players.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at Ligue 1’s Team of the Season.
Goalkeeper: Predrag Rajkovic (Reims)
A very underrated goalkeeper in his own rights, Predrag Rajkovic was definitely the best custodian in Ligue 1 this season. He was one of the main reasons behind Reims having the best defensive record in the league. The Serbian conceded just 17 goals in 27 Ligue 1 games, managing 12 clean sheets.
Rajkovic has conceded a goal every 143 minutes and his average of 2.6 saves per game is next to none. The only Ligue 1 game he missed in the 2019-20 campaign, Reims ended up losing the contest 3-0 against Strasbourg.
Right-back: Fabien Centonze (Metz)
Fabien Centonze was one of the few bright spots for Metz, who otherwise endured a difficult season. The Maroons, who finished 15th in Ligue 1, signed the 24-year-old from Lens last summer, with Centonze making a mark at both ends of the pitch with his versatility.
As a full-back, Centonze loves to make forward runs as he provided three assists in 28 league outings. The Frenchman is a good tackler and crosser of the ball and even though he is not great with possession, he had a pass success rate of 75%.
Centre-back: Gabriel (Lille)
Lille signed Gabriel from Brazilian outfit Aval in January 2017. After being loaned out to Troyes and Dinamo Zagreb, Gabriel finally showed his potential this season. As a player, the 22-year-old is known for his quick speed, tough tackling and aerial duels, which are evident from his stats.
Gabriel won 64 tackles and 95 aerial duels which is very impressive. The Brazilian made 23 Ligue 1 appearances this season and even scored once. Such has been the youngster’s rise and impact that Premier League outfit Everton are considering making a move for him once the transfer window opens.
Centre-back: Yunis Abdelhamid (Reims)
As mentioned above, Predrag Rajkovic was one the main reasons behind Reims’ defensive stability this season. Another player who played a huge role in that regard was Yunis Abdelhamid. The Moroccan international was an absolute rock at the back for Reims.
Besides providing stability to his side’s defence, Abdelhamid scored three times in 28 Ligue 1 games and had a pass completion rate of around 84.5%. The centre-back, who has been highly applauded for his vision and positioning, was also a genuine threat in set-piece situations as he managed almost a shot per game on goal. His three goals look even more impressive as Reims managed to score only 26 times in Ligue 1.
Left-back: Hassane Kamara (Reims)
Fans might have thought that the Ligue 1 Team of the Year would be dominated by Paris Saint-Germain superstars, but this season many players performed impressively while remaining underrated. Hassane Kamara is one such player. He alongside Yunis Abdelhamid and Predrag Rajkovic form the core of the Reims defence which conceded just 21 times in 28 league games.
Hassane Kamara is not a modern-day full-back who likes to bomb forward at every opportunity he gets. But the 26-year-old definitely makes up for his attacking deficiencies with his solid defensive performances. The Frenchman likes to initiate attacks through long ball and even though he is not that attack-minded, he still scored twice this season. Kamara’s attributes consist of tough tackling, passing and dribbling. He completed almost 84% of his passes and received the Man of the Match award seven times in the 2019-20 campaign.
Central midfielder: Renato Sanches (Lille)
A player who came up through the ranks of Benfica’s renowned academy, Renato Sanchez burst into the limelight with stunning performances for the Portuguese giants in the 2015-16 season. He was also a vital cog in the Portuguese national team, who lifted the Europen Championship in 2016. A big-money move to Bayern Munich followed shortly after the tournament but it proved to be a disaster for him. He failed to settle in Germany and also struggled during his loan spell at Swansea City before the Bundesliga champions sold Sanches to Lille last summer.
Signing for Lille turned out to be a career-changing decision for the youngster, who is still 22. The Portuguese made 19 Ligue 1 appearances this season, scoring three times and setting up one more. He has various qualities which include passing, dribbling and crossing. Sanches, who had a pass completion of 86.7%, is very good with set-piece deliveries as well.
Central midfielder: Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
A creative, hard-working and technically gifted playmaker, Marco Verratti has made over 300 appearances in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain since joining the club from Pescara in 2012. The Italian international, who has been one of the most consistent players for PSG in recent years, is the first name on the teamsheet more often than not.
The 2019-20 season was no different for him as he featured 20 times in the league, providing five assists and had a passing accuracy rate of 92.5%. The consistency Verratti shows year after year makes him a great asset to the PSG squad. While the 27-year-old’s tough-tackling gets him into the referee’s books once in a while, he also wins a lot of fouls for his team through his dribbling abilities. Marco Verratti is one of the most consistent players in the world currently.
Left-winger: Neymar Jr (Paris Saint-Germain)
Neymar endured yet another injury-hit season, but that didn’t stop him from posting impressive numbers upfront, which shows just how talented he is. Despite playing just 15 Ligue 1 games, he still found the back of the net 13 times and only trailed Kylian Mbappe, Wissam Ben Yedder and Moussa Dembele in the goalscoring chart. In addition to scoring 13 goals, he also contributed with six assists.
In the 2019-20 campaign, he improved his record in front of goal by averaging 4.7 shots per game, with his nine Man of the Match awards a testament to his improved form and influence on the game. The Brazilian star has forged a mouthwatering partnership with Kylian Mbappe and the duo looks unstoppable together.
Right-winger: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain)
Paris Saint-Germain have a pool of superstars and although Angel Di Maria didn’t cost the club as much as the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, his importance in the team is undeniable. The Argentine, who is the creator-in-chief for the Parisian side, keeps the game moving and is always on the lookout for forward runs of his teammates.
The 32-year-old recorded 14 assists this season, the highest in Ligue 1 by some distance, with only three players ahead of him in the assists chart in the top 5 European leagues. Di Maria chipped in with seven goals and also completed 80% of his passes – good numbers for a winger. He was one of the most fouled players in Ligue 1 because of his pace and dribbling skills.
Striker: Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Kylian Mbappe looks ready to dominate world football for years to come and the France international enjoyed yet another prolific campaign in front of goal as he spearheaded Paris Saint-Germain’s attack.
Mbappe scored 18 goals in 20 games and won the Ligue 1 Golden Boot, while also providing five assists along the way. The 21-year-old’s attributes include dribbling, passing and finishing: he is also very good in holding up play. He won 8 Man of the Match awards which showcased his consistency and influence on the game.
Striker: Wissam Ben Yedder (AS Monaco)
Monaco raised quite a few eyebrows when they paid €40 million to sign Wissam Ben Yedder from Sevilla last summer. However, the move turned out to be a masterstroke as the 29-year-old was a bright spot in an otherwise dull campaign for Monaco, who finished ninth.
Ben Yedder’s 18 goals in Ligue 1 played a vital role in helping Monaco avoid the relegation scramble. Such has been the influence of Ben Yedder that he contributed 41% of Monaco’s goals in the 2019-20 season. He was unfortunate not to win the Ligue 1 Golden Boot as he scored the same number of goals as Kylian Mbappe.
What do you think of this team? Please do share your comments below.