Splurging PSG threaten to dominate Ligue 1

Splurging PSG threaten to dominate Ligue 1
By Eurosport

08/08/2012 at 10:47Updated 08/08/2012 at 10:57

Few doubt that Paris St Germain's extravagant spending will land them the Ligue 1 title this season, possibly with several games to spare, and even titleholders Montpellier appear to have thrown in the towel.

Qatari-owned PSG have splurged almost a 100 million euros on spectacular signings such as Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazil's Thiago Silva, both from AC Milan, and many expect a one-horse race for the French title.

PSG had expected to dominate the league last season but they were stunned by Montpellier, who claimed their maiden league title.

This time, not even the defending champions believe they will be able to offer a credible challenge to Carlo Ancelotti's team.

"Even if we could upset them on the pitch, we will have to fight for the second place. They are out of reach," said Montpellier full-back Henri Bedimo.

"We have to end in the top three. Second will be perfect," added the club's president Louis Nicollin.

Montpellier have stuck by their prudent transfer policy, spending barely 12 million euros to strengthen the squad while Olivier Giroud, last season's Ligue 1 joint topscorer with 21 goals, has departed for Arsenal.

The southerners have banked on Argentina's Emanuel Herrera, who has spent most of his career in South American second tier sides, and French prospect Anthony Mounier to make up for Giroud's absence.

They have also landed defender Daniel Congre from Toulouse to give them a stronger physical presence for their Champions League campaign.

Lille, the 2010/11 champions and third last season, will also try to stay in the top three despite the departure of Belgian forward Eden Hazard, twice winner of the Ligue 1 Player of the Season award, who has joined Chelsea.

They moved fast to bring in France playmaker Marvin Martin and Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou in time for their Champions League play-off at the end of August.

"It's impossible to replace Eden, but we were prepared. When major players leave, we know how to handle it," coach Rudi Garcia told Reuters. "We choose players who match up our philosophy."

PSG hope their signings can help them join the European elite.

"Who was talking about the Ligue 1 before PSG made this dream come true?" Ibrahimovic said when he held his first press conference in front of an unusually packed auditorium at Parc des Princes.

The 30-year-old Sweden striker, who said he was joining a "dream team", will play alongisde his former AC Milan team-mate Thiago Silva, bought for a reported fee of 42 million euros.

They joined former Napoli forward Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marco Verratti, a 19-year-old Italian prospect from Pescara sometimes compared to Andrea Pirlo.

"It was a bit strange to see them coming. Until now, we were more used to watch them play on TV," full-back Christophe Jallet told Reuters. "It is now clear that we've moved the next level, the European level."

In contrast to PSG's spending spree, former power Lyon, who will not feature in the Champions League for the first time since 2000 after last season's fourth-place finish, were quiet on the transfer market.

Marseille's new coach Elie Baup, the replacement for Didier Deschamps after he was given the France national team job, has refused to set any goals for his squad after last season's 10th place, their worst finish in more than a decade.