One to watch: Jérôme Roussillon
The secret to Montpellier's success this season is simple: their defence. No side has conceded fewer than Michel Der Zakarian's charges, their backline being breached just 14 times.
A compact back five is key to this new found solidity, but the system relies heavily on the ability of the two full backs, Jérôme Roussillon and Ruben Aguilar, to bomb up and down the flanks all game long.
Roussillon told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS: "The coach says that Ruben Aguilar and I have to keep getting forward. We go up and down, up and down - and we try to last 90 minutes!"
Aguilar added: "The system suits us well. We are solid and we're playing better and better. Jérôme's been on form since the start of the season, and he's really thriving in this system which allows him to get forward.""
If both full backs are impressing, Roussillon has caught the eye in particular and is attracting attention from Monaco, Marseille and a host of other top clubs. The Paris-born left-back joined Montpellier from Sochaux in 2015, and after two highly promising seasons at the Mosson, he's taken his game to another level, playing as a wing-back this term.
Der Zakarian: "He can defend now as well"
Montpellier coach Michel Der Zakarian said: "He understands he has to keep on running, and when he attacks he makes great runs, he's explosive and uses the ball well. He loves to get forward - and he can defend now as well. He didn't used to like defending, but it's something he's work on and that was a necessary step for him." Roussillon concurred: "We love getting forward but we have to defend as well, and that's tough but we're doing it."
Regarded as a great talent during his time at the Clairefontaine academy, the former France youth international has taken time to mature, but at 25 he now knows what is required to succeed at the highest level. Roussillon said: "You have to work at it every day. We listen to the coach and we work hard, every day, all the time."
The question now is: can Montpellier hold on to their in-demand defender? Der Zakarian said: "He's not going anywhere this winter. The club will open the door to a move in the summer, but he's not leaving in January. Well, not unless we receive an enormous, and for the moment that's not the case."