Ligue 1 Conforama: Get ready for season 2018-19!
Ahead of this weekend's Week 1 fixtures, check out all the crucial information for season 2018-19 with our quick-start guide!
The Ligue 1 Conforama season is about to kick off! As Marseille and Toulouse prepare to get the season 2018-19 ball rolling at the Orange Vélodrome on Friday, take a look at some key info on the stakes, dates and format of the competition.
Save the date
The season kicks off with a round of Week 1 fixtures scheduled for Friday 10 August, Saturday 11 August and Sunday 12 August. The first half of the season will close with a multiplex (all ten matches played simultaneously) on Saturday 22 December. Week 38 - the final round of the season - will also play out in multiplex format, on 25 may 2019.
The Ligue 1 Conforama championship trophy
Conceived by Franco-Argentine artist Pablo Reinoso, who also created the Coupe de la Ligue, the trophy accorded to the champions of France represents the alliance of two powerful symbols: the hexagon and the game. The trophy's name - Hexagoal - was chosen by the fans in vote open to everyone. The trophy was awarded for the first time on 26 May 2007 at the Stade Gerland as Olympique Lyonnais won their sixth consecutive Ligue 1 Conforama title.
There will be two promoted clubs in season 2018-19: Stade de Reims and Nîmes Olympique. After winning the Domino's Ligue 2 title last season, Champagne-region club Reims will contest their 34th top-flight campaign. As will Nîmes, who finished second to secure a return to the top flight after a 25-year absence.
The race for Europe
As is the case for the French champions, Ligue 1 Conforama's second-placed side qualify directly for the UEFA Champions League group stage. The third-placed side earn a spot in the third qualifying round, in which victory can lead to the group stage via a play-off (unless a French club already qualified for the UEFA Champions League wins the UEFA Europa League). Fourth on the Ligue 1 Conforama table earns direct entry to the UEFA Europa League group stage while fifth yields a second qualifying round berth, with a third qualifying round plus a play-off between them and the group stage.
Relegation play-offs in Ligue 1 Conforama
Once again this season, the two bottom sides on the Ligue 1 Conforama table will be relegated to Domino's Ligue 2. The team in 18th place will enter into a two-legged play-off with the winner of the Domino's Ligue 2 Play-offs, which pit fifth against fourth and winner of that tie against third. The relegation play-off dates have been set for Thursday 30 May and Sunday 2 June, 2019.
Edinson Cavani was at it again in season 2017-18, the Paris Saint-Germain hit-man doubling down after top-scoring in 2016-17 with another division-best haul. The Uruguay international ended the season 28 Ligue 1 Conforama goals from 32 appearances. Once again this season, goalscorers will be ratified at the end of each round of matches (Monday). Goals are accorded to the last member of the attacking team to touch the ball before it crosses the line, even if this touch is unintentional. In cases where the last player to touch the ball plays for the defending team, the goal is accorded to the player who took the shot - but only if that initial effort was on target.
In case two or more players end the season atop the Ligue 1 Conforama scorers chart with the same number of goals, they will be separated as a function of the number of penalties scored, the number of assists provided, the number of matches in which their goals were scored, the playing time taken to score the goals, the number of points scored by their teams and, finally, the number of cards, red or yellow, that they received. In the last six Ligue 1 Conforama seasons, the league's top scorer has always been from Paris Saint-Germain (Cavani or Zlatan Ibrahimovic) except for 2015, when Olympique Lyonnais' Alexandre Lacazette reigned supreme with 27 goals.
Officially inaugurated in season 2007-08, the Ligue 1 Conforama assists chart was last season dominated by Neymar Jr, Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian superstar setting his teammates up to score on 13 occasions in just 20 matches. No player has ever managed to top this chart on more than one occasion, but on four occasions, the winning player has been from Olympique de Marseille - a record. First of all it was Lucho Gonzalez, in 2009-10, then Mathieu Valbuena in 2012-13, Dimitri Payet in 2014-15 and Morgan Sanson in 2016-17.
The Ligue 1 Conforama assists table will be updated on the Monday following the end of each round. In case of a tie, players will be separated in terms of the number of assists in open play, the number of matches in which assists were provided, and the number of minutes played to provide those assists.
Roll of Honour: the most successful Ligue 1 Conforama sides
Crowned Ligue 1 Conforama champions on ten occasions, AS Saint-Etienne remain the competition's most successful club. Then, on nine titles, it's Olympique de Marseille, ahead of FC Nantes and AS Monaco, each of whom have eight. This duo could become a trio by the end of the season should Paris Saint-Germain or Olympique Lyonnais, each of whom currently boast seven titles, come out on top this season.
Total Seasons: Ligue 1 Conforama's most experienced sides
Olympique de Marseille are getting ready to contest their 69th season in France's top flight. That's the highest total among the top flight's 20 teams this season. Behind OM sit Girondins de Bordeaux and AS Saint-Etienne, both of whom are in their 66th season. Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain - founded relatively recently in 1970, will be contesting their 46th season in the country's top division.