The 2020/21 Ligue 1 season will get underway on Friday night. After the suspension of the 2019/20 season in March, the French top division returns to action for the first time in five months.
Matchday One of the season features some intriguing matches despite the absence of defending champions Paris Saint-Germain who will be contending in the UEFA Champions League final on Sunday.
Three Ligue 1 Fixtures to Watch on Matchday One
AS Monaco vs Reims FC
Niko Kovac will begin his new role with Monaco as they face Reims. The former Bayern Munich manager arrives at Monaco after leaving the Bundesliga in November. He will undertake the task of getting Monaco back to the top of the Ligue 1 table. The club has not qualified for European football for two consecutive seasons.
Reims and Monaco finished just one point apart last season in the table and both of their fixtures ended in draws. Reims were a hard club to score against as goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic was the joint leader in Ligue 1 with 12 clean sheets. He will have to keep out Monaco striker Wissam Ben Yedder, who scored 18 goals and finished joint top scorer with Kylian Mbappe.
A win for Kovac against a tough opponent such as Reims would be a positive start to his new managerial role. This is certainly one of the must-watch fixtures of the opening weekend to see how Monaco performs under their new boss.
Lille OSC vs Rennes FC
Both Lille and Rennes finished very close to each other in the final standings last season. Rennes edges Lille by one point to take third place. As a result, Rennes qualified for the Champions League, while Lille will have to settle for the Europa League this season.
One of the storylines entering this match will be how Lille performs offensively following the departure of their leading goal scorer Victor Osimhen. They lost a key component of their club and will have to look for other sources for goals. Recent signing Jonathan David will be one the players tasked with filling the void. The Canadian international has been their big signing of the off-season and could turn out to be their next big player.
If Rennes can grab all three points against Lille, it could be the perfect start to their big season ahead. They have plenty of young talented players who are exciting to watch, such as Eduardo Camavinga, and they appear poised to remain near the top of French football.
FC Lorient vs RC Strasbourg
After topping Ligue 2 to earn promotion, Lorient will begin their Ligue 1 season against Strasbourg, who finished tenth last season. The newly-promoted side were an impressive club in Ligue 2 as they scored 45 goals and finished with a +20 goal differential. Attacking players Yoane Wissa and Pierre-Yves Hamel scored a combined 24 goals to lead the way. It remains to be seen if they can continue their impressive goal scoring record in the French top division.
For Strasbourg, this match will be a key one for them as they look to start the season off strong. They have solidified themselves as a mid-table club but will have their eyes set on finishing better than tenth this time around. It will be important for them to get all three points against the newly promoted sides if they are to finish better than tenth.