After a week off that saw France secure relatively trouble-free victories over Albania and Andorra in their quest to reach Euro 2020, Ligue 1 football returns on Friday.
Astonishingly, through the opening four matches of the season, there is not a single undefeated team left in the top flight, with Rennes and Brest both suffering defeats immediately before the one-week hiatus.
It means that there are four teams at the summit of the league locked on nine points, led by Paris Saint-Germain due to their superior goal difference, while nine teams are within two marks of the summit as the top sides begin to cast their eyes towards their European campaigns.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend – Monaco vs Marseille
The most intriguing fixture of the weekend is saved until last, with Sunday night’s clash between Monaco and Marseille an encounter between two of France’s ailing giants.
Leonardo Jardim’s side go into the game winless in their opening four matches, though they have drawn successively 2-2 against Nimes and Strasbourg. Monaco have been rather luckless in the opening weeks of the campaign, having seen four red cards – none of which was particularly clear cut.
Cesc Fabregas and Ruben Aguilar both return to the fold after bans, while Jemerson misses out for that reason.
Meanwhile, a late flurry of summer signings have seen the principality side reinforced. Tiemoue Bakayoko is hoping to regain his best form having arrived back at the club on loan from Chelsea, while Jean-Kevin Augustin will replace Radamel Falcao, who moved to Galatasaray.
With Islam Slimani and Wissam Ben Yedder having both hit the ground running, the hosts should not be short on firepower.
Marseille, meanwhile, have gathered seven points from their four matches but have yet to look convincing under Andre Villas Boas.
The Portuguese has been denied significant funds to strengthen his squad but Dario Benedetto is settling in encouragingly in attack, while Valentin Rongier should go straight into the team having arrived from Nantes.
Rest of the weekend:
The weekend opens with Lille and Lyon both having to negotiate quick turnarounds after the international break with Friday games against Angers and Amiens respectively. While it complicates their league campaign, it is designed to help their European performance.
Similarly, PSG are in action early on Saturday against Strasbourg, while the highlight of the evening card is the Breton derby between Brest and Rennes. Nice will also be worth keeping an eye on in Montpellier as their flurry of signings are set to be unleashed at Stade de la Mosson.
Sunday’s earliest kick-off sees Nantes and Reims, who have both made promising starts to the season, face up, while Saint-Etienne will seek to find a better level than they have displayed of late when they host Toulouse.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch – Neymar vs Strasborg (£7.20)
Who else could it be but Neymar? With his transfer saga finally resolved in the favour of Paris Saint-Germain, the world’s most expensive player is expected to be thrust right back into action against Strasbourg – a side that PSG have had some problems dealing with over the last couple of years.
Doubts certainly remain over the Brazilian, with his desire to play for the club highly questionable, many of the club’s fans openly hostile towards him and his match sharpness lacking. He has, however, been training with the first team and head coach Thomas Tuchel will want him a little more up to speed before Wednesday’s match against Real Madrid.
With Kylian Mbappe out and Edinson Cavani likely to be treated gingerly, much is set to rest on the superstar.
Even at a price of £7.20, he is sure to hit the headlines on the day he is expected to return to action.