Who will win the Ligue 1 title in 2023-24? Which clubs will qualify for the Champions League and who will be scrapping for Ligue 1 survival this season? We look at all the key questions with our Ligue 1 2023-24 season predictions via our trusty Opta supercomputer.
Ligue 1 Season Predictions: The Quick Hits
Favourites for the Title: Paris Saint-Germain
Title Dark Horse: Lens
Top Four Favourites: Paris Saint-Germain, Lens, Marseille and Lille.
Relegation Favourites: Metz and Le Havre
We tasked the Opta supercomputer with simulating the 2023-24 Ligue 1 season 10,000 times to see how it believed the campaign may pan out.
It has super quickly integrated the new format of the competition, which will see 18 clubs compete in the 2023-24 season: down from 20 last season. Of the 18 Ligue 1 teams this season, the Opta supercomputer pre-season simulations saw 14 of those clubs win the title at least once, while 16 of the teams occupied the two automatic relegation spots come the end of the season across the 10,000 sims.
Here, we look at all the key findings from the Opta supercomputer’s 10,000 simulations of the 2023-24 Ligue 1 season.
Who Will Win Ligue 1 in 2023-24?
In news that’ll surprise absolutely nobody, the Opta supercomputer sees Paris Saint-Germain winning the 2023-24 Ligue 1 title. They have won the title in nine of the last 11 editions of the French top flight and finished runners-up in the other two (2016-17 and 2020-21) over that period.
Across our 10,000 pre-season simulations, PSG won the Ligue 1 title 55.5% of the time, while securing a top-three finish – and therefore automatic UEFA Champions League promotion – 88.3% of the time. While over half of the pre-season sims saw PSG win the title, that ratio is much lower than the previous two campaigns. Ahead of the 2021-22 season, they were 79.5% favourites for the Ligue 1 crown, while last season was a shade lower at 76.0% – quite a bit above this season’s 55.5%.
The biggest contenders to upset PSG are Lens, who won the Ligue 1 title in 21.6% of our pre-season simulations. Since finishing second in Ligue 2 in 2019-20 and winning promotion back to the top flight, they have secured three successive top-seven finishes in Ligue 1, including a brilliant second-place finish last season. They ended the campaign just one point off PSG and will take part in the Champions League for the first time since 2002-03, but they’ll have to contend with the loss of several key players, such as Seko Fofana and Loïs Openda.
Outside contenders include Marseille (6.3%) and Lille (6.2%), with every other team winning the Ligue 1 title less than 500 times across our 10,000 pre-season simulations. Brest and Lorient fans can dream, as they both won the title once in those sims. You never know…
Who Will Win Finish in the Ligue 1 Top Three?
With the extension of the UEFA Champions League from 32 to 36 teams, Ligue 1 has been allocated one more spot for the new league phase, meaning that the top three clubs in 2023-24 will enjoy this new format, while the team ranked fourth will enter at the third qualifying round.
PSG shouldn’t have much to worry about, with the reigning champions making the top three in 88.3% of our Opta supercomputer simulations, while Lens are also favoured to seal back-to-back finishes within the top three (67.7%). The battle for the third spot is more exciting, though.
Based on the Opta supercomputer, the most likely teams to be competing for a third-place battle are Marseille (35.6%), Lille (33.0%), Rennes (29.1%) and Lyon (20.6%).
It was Marseille who finished third in Ligue 1 last season – their third campaign with a top-three finish across the last four years. Rennes have been one of the most consistent sides across the last four Ligue 1 seasons, finishing in the top six every time. They were five points behind Marseille in the table at the end of 2022-23.
Lille finished in the top three more often than Rennes in the Opta supercomputer simulations for 2023-24, with one reason being that their underlying numbers were strong last season. Across teams that finished in the top half of the Ligue 1 table at the end of the season, no side had a bigger negative difference (8.1) between their goal difference (+21) and their expected goals difference (+29.1) than they did.
Who Will Be Relegated from Ligue 1 in 2023-24?
Our Opta supercomputer simulations haven’t offered much hope to either Le Havre or Metz in their quest to avoid relegation straight back to Ligue 2 in their first season back in the top flight.
Le Havre are the favourites for the drop, finishing in the relegation zone across 73.1% of Opta supercomputer simulations and ending bottom of the league in 46.6% of those. They are followed by Metz, who were relegated 64.4% of the time and finished bottom the second-most often (34.2%). One positive note for both clubs, however, is that never in the last 85 years of French top flight football has every newly-promoted side been relegated back to the second tier in their first season.
The main battle might well be avoiding the relegation play-off, which will be played by the team that finishes 16th in 2023-24. Other than Le Havre and Metz, Nantes are the next side in danger of the drop, with a 25.6% chance of finishing in the automatic relegation spots and a 19.9% chance of finishing in 16th position.
There’s also a group of seven clubs (Montpellier, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Reims, Clermont, Lorient and Brest) that are promised to be in what the French label as “le ventre mou” (the soft belly), where nothing particularly good or bad is expected from them across the season. That could easily change based on how each of those sides start 2023-24.
How Does the Opta Supercomputer Model Work?
• Opta’s League Prediction model estimates the likelihood of teams finishing in each position in the competition. We can therefore see how successful a team’s season is likely to be, whether it’s their relegation or title chances.
• The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) by using betting market odds and Opta Power Rankings. The odds and rankings are based on historical and recent team performances.
• The model considers the strength of opponents by using these match outcome probabilities and simulates the remaining fixtures in the competition thousands of times. By analysing the outcome of each of these simulations, the model can see how often teams finished in each league position to create our final predictions.