Ligue 1 might only be entering its third week of action in the 2019-20 season, but there is more than a hint of optimism that there may just be a title race worthy of the name to develop over the coming 10 months.
Lyon’s unexpectedly hot start under Sylvinho was underlined last weekend as they thumped Angers 6-0, while Paris Saint-Germain slumped to a 2-1 loss in Rennes, showing all the vulnerability that saw them rather limp over the line at the end of last term.
When Thomas Tuchel’s side tackle Toulouse on Sunday, they do so under renewed scrutiny, particularly as they have been unable to efficiently diffuse the Neymar transfer situation, which appears set to rumble on until the window closes on September 2.
The table may still be developing, but the early evidence suggests this could be a far more interesting season than might previously have been anticipated.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Paris Saint-Germain vs Toulouse
Only a brave punter would have put money on Toulouse going into Sunday’s clash at Parc des Princes ahead of the home side, yet that is the case after the hosts’ shock defeat in Rennes last week.
Edinson Cavani got his second in as many games to put PSG into the lead in Brittany, but they conceded either side of half-time and were unable to respond.
Tuchel has defended the mentality of his side, but there is no doubt that the Parisians failed to hit their marks last weekend and without Thilo Kehrer, Presnel Kimpembe, Ander Herrera and, in all probability, Neymar, he will find himself under immense pressure with anything short of a win.
Toulouse, inspired by summer addition Efthymios Koulouris, who has a goal and an assist in his first two Ligue 1 games, have picked up four points in their first two games and are hopeful of avoiding their customary dogfight.
For them, even a share of the points would be a major boost.
Rest of the weekend
Elsewhere, the matchday’s action is set to be strung out over five days due to the G7 summit in Biarritz, which has seen Montpellier’s match with Lyon shifted to Tuesday, while Lille’s clash against Saint-Etienne and the Mediterranean derby between Nice and Marseille have both been shunted to Wednesday.
As such, the early action in the weekend is set to be little more than an appetiser, with Metz and Reims given the opportunity to move to the head of the table on Saturday as they travel to Angers and Brest respectively.
Sunday, meanwhile, sees bottom side Monaco, in the midst of their worst ever start to a season, host fellow pointless side Nimes before Europa League outfits Strasbourg and Rennes tussle in Alsace a couple of hours later.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Habib Diallo vs Angers (£0.87)
Typically, prolific scorers in Ligue 2 have found it difficult to make the step up successfully to Ligue 1. Umut Bozok, Adama Niane, Famara Diedhiou and Mickael Le Bihan are the four previous winners of the second flight’s Golden Boot between 2015 and 2018 but none has managed to go on and score prolifically in the top flight.
Metz striker Habib Diallo, however, has shown signs of changing that. Admittedly, he was only the second tier’s most prolific striker last season, trailing Brest hitman Gaetan Charbonnier, but with three goals in the first two matches of the season, his confidence is up and he has shown the predatory instincts that helped him plunder 26 goals in 37 matches last term.
With a trip to Angers – a side that conceded six last weekend against Lyon and looked none too clever defensively – looming this weekend, the striker, whose current price on the Index is a mere £0.87, will be confident of improving his record.