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For soccer fans tuned into the UEFA Champions League, Ligue 1—the top-tier soccer league in France—has been most visibly represented by Paris Saint-Germain. The league is more than just PSG, though. It’s a league in which top talent from Europe, Africa, and the Americas develops, but it’s also the home to legitimate stars and otherwise compelling players.
What is Ligue 1?
Since 1932, France has had a top-tier league in action, though the Ligue 1 name only came about in 2002. (The current name is Ligue 1 Conforama for its furniture outlet sponsor; it’s like if Major League Soccer got a title sponsor and glossed itself MLS Room Store.) Like a number of other European leagues, Ligue 1 operates with 20 teams in a 38-match season, with each team playing home and away matches against the other 19 teams in the league. There is promotion and relegation in the league, with the two bottom teams moving to Ligue 2 (or, thanks to sponsorship, Domino’s Ligue 2), and the top two teams move up. As in Germany, the 18th-place team gets to bail itself out from relegation with a playoff against a Ligue 2 challenger.
The winner is, as it is for its fellow European leagues, based on performance throughout the season. Teams earn three points for a win and one for a draw, and there are no playoffs. Winning the league comes down to what each team does in that 38-week window.
Ligue 1 typically has a Friday night game (Friday afternoon in the States), along with Saturday and Sunday matches. The staggered start times typically mean that there will be a live match on Sunday in the 3pm ET slot, between other European action and the Sunday MLS doubleheader. So, if you want to make your Sunday wall-to-wall soccer, you’ll want to make a stop at BeIN Sports to catch Ligue 1.
Which Ligue 1 teams should I know?
It starts with reigning champs PSG, and of late, PSG starts with Brazilian star Neymar. This season, however, starts with a serious cloud over the league’s best-known player; rumors are rampant about him trying to engineer a return to Barcelona, and it may not happen, which would likely leave him no choice but to soldier on in Paris. It’s a talented team even without him: World Cup MVP Kylian Mbappe, Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, Argentine winger Angel di Maria, and German winger Julian Draxler are all on the roster. Losing Neymar would be huge, of course, but PSG will be a title contender with or without him.
Last year’s surprise second-place team, Lille, is losing star-in-the-making Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal, but is getting another potential star-in-the-making of interest to American fans: U.S. Men’s National Team player Timothy Weah. This year’s Ligue 1 opener (Friday, Aug. 9 at 2:45pm ET) features two perennial powerhouses in Olympique Lyonnais and AS Monaco, the latter being the only non-French team in Ligue 1.
Olympique de Marseille, or simply OM or Marseille, is another team to watch; although it’s cut ties with Mario Balotelli—who played with both Nice and Marseille last season—it still has the likes of Dimitri Payet and Dario Benedetto to spearhead the attack.
Ligue 1 teams:
- Brest (moved from Ligue 2 )
- Metz (moved from Ligue 2 )
Ligue 1 live stream: How to watch online
Each of the following services carries BeIN Sports, providing a one-week free trial and therefore an easy way to watch Ligue 1 matches for free.
1) Sling TV
- Sling TV pricing: $25-$40 per month (40% off first month)
- Sling TV devices: Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, Oculus Go, Microsoft Edge, and iOS and Android devices
- Sling TV local channels: NBC, Fox (check your local availability here)
Sling TV provides two base channel package options, each priced at $25 per month. Sling Orange includes three ESPN channels, while Sling Blue includes sports channels like NBCSN (where many Premier League matches appear), NFL Network, FS1 and FS2, and local channels. (Sling Blue customers in select markets get NBC, where some matches appear; see if yours has it here.) If you’re Team “Why Not Both,” Sling Orange + Blue combines the two for just $40 per month. To add beIN SPORTS and maximize your soccer-watching potential, you’ll want to add either Sports Extra: Sling Orange ($5 per month) or Sports Extra: Sling Blue ($10 per month). (The latter also includes NFL RedZone.)
Spanish-speaking viewers have quite a few options. For bilingual families, you might consider the Español: Best of Spanish TV package for either Sling Orange or Sling Blue for 24/7 specialty channel LaLiga TV and beIN SPORTS Connect: Channels 4-9, which features matches from La Liga, Ligue 1 and Copa del Rey, among others. Both packages cost $5 per month after your free trial. Sling TV Latino is another Spanish-language package for $10 per month, including NBC Universo, History en Español, and—of import to soccer fans—four beIN SPORTS channels. (And choosing Sling TV Latino + Sling Orange for $30 per month gives you access to ESPN Deportes.) For more information, check out our guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.
- Cost: $44.99 for the first month, $54.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
FuboTV is a solid TV streaming service option, whether your tastes run to entertainment (AMC, Syfy, FX), news (MSNBC, CNN), or sports (NBA TV, NFL Network). If you’re a soccer fan, however, it will appear tailor-made for you, with 10 beIN SPORTS channels, NBCSN, FS1, FS2, and UniMás all on tap. If you can’t watch a match live, FuboTV offers a three-day replay for each match and 30 hours of cloud DVR. (Check out the complete FuboTV channels list and our comprehensive FuboTV review.)
FuboTV also has bilingual families in mind; each subscription comes with UniMás, Galavisión, NBC Universo, beIN SPORTS, Univision, and Fox Deportes. An extra $7.99 per month will bring you Latino Plus, which includes CNN en Español and TyC Sports among its offerings.
- Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- PlayStation Vue devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
- PlayStation Vue local channels: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
PlayStation Vue is a fantastic option for soccer fans who already own a PlayStation console, but this streaming platform is available on a variety of devices. NBC and NBCSN (where the Premier League live) are part of the Core package of channels that offer soccer and other sports programming, and the options increase at the Elite and Ultra levels.
- Cost: $44.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- Hulu devices: Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and iOS and Android devices
- Hulu local channels: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW (check your local availability here)
Hulu with Live TV includes sports programming among its broad spectrum of offerings, and as a subscriber to the service, you’ll get free access to Hulu’s sizable on-demand library. (Check out the full list of Hulu Live TV channels.)
5) YouTube TV
- Cost: $50 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- YouTube TV devices: Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, iOS and Android devices
- YouTube TV local channels: NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, the CW (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
YouTube TV is a great option for soccer fans, including TNT for Champions League matches, NBC and NBCSN for Premier League matches, and broadcasting partnerships with three MLS teams. (Take a look at the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)
Ligue 1 top scorers (2018-19 season)
Kylian Mbappé: The World Cup wonder finished with 33 goals in 38 games, and to the delight of PSG fans, did not bolt for Real Madrid over the summer as expected.
Nicolas Pepe: The French-Ivorian winger finished the season with 22 goals and 11 assists, leading Les Dogues to Champions League contention. He then became a record transfer signing for Arsenal, so if you want to see him in action this season, you’ll have to tune in to the Premier League.
Edinson Cavani: Part of the strike force (along with Luis Suarez) for the Uruguay national team, Cavani came to PSG from Napoli in 2013 and has contributed since, teaming with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and now Mbappé and Neymar as part of some very potent offenses. He’s been a consistent scorer for close to a decade now.
Florian Thauvin: Marseille’s top scorer had an unsuccessful move to the Premier League in 2015, coming back to Marseille on loan after just 16 total appearances and a single goal, but he’s been a consistent performer for Les Phocéens since returning.
Neymar: The mercurial Neymar finished with 15 goals last season, which is solid, though certainly below the lofty expectations for Neymar.
Ligue 1 champions
PSG hasn’t always been a dominant force in Ligue 1, but the list below shows their recent run of success.
Ligue 1 champions:
- 2018-19: Paris Saint-Germain
- 2017-18: Paris Saint-Germain
- 2016-17: Monaco
- 2015-16: Paris Saint-Germain
- 2014-15: Paris Saint-Germain
- 2013-14: Paris Saint-Germain
- 2012-13: Paris Saint-Germain
- 2011-12: Montpellier
- 2010-11: Lille
- 2009-10: Marseille
Here’s the complete list of champions going back to 1932 (and even back to 1893, before there was a professional league).
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Phil West is a sports reporter and the author of two books on soccer, ‘The United States of Soccer,’ and ‘I Believe That We Will Win,’ both from The Overlook Press. His work has appeared most recently in MLSSoccer.com, Pro Soccer USA, Texas Highways, and Howler. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.