This weekend kicks off what is sure to be a thrilling season in France. After Lyon’s selfish display of seven consecutive league titles from 2001-8, the past three champions have been different and a fourth this season would be no surprise. Luckily, League 1 has always boasted an exceptional array of club names. You could probably string them all together as a sentence and trick a women into thinking you are romancing her with French ballads. The names reek of prestige and entitlement and only reinforce the childish preconceived notions of most American citizens. And yet, that is what makes them so excellent!
As for the kits, most people would consider them walking billboards with the amount of sponsors present. Be that as it may, the designs are some of the most creative and head scratching in all of Europe. Whether you like the kits or the football, League 1 is a must-see.
Here is an in-depth breakdown and rating of all twenty teams and the shirts they will wear for the 2011/12 campaign.
The French islanders from Corsica return to League 1 for the first time since 2006. They will wear their customary red/white striped kit which looks very similar to Sunderland’s. Bonus points for the Karate Kid image on their patch. 6/10
Mired in mid-table anonymity last season has forced Auxerre into designing kits to identify with their position in the league. The blue away shirt is mediocre at best and resembles a cheap golf shirt. The home kit has a very attractive blue collar with a white stripe however the rest is morbidly plain.
Girondins de Bordeaux
Both the home and away shirts are difficult to look at with the familiar V intersecting the horizontal stripes. On the home shirt, it appears someone with ink on their finger tried to wipe it off on the white V across the chest. Your best option is to watch this club in the French League Cup when the alternate jerseys may be utilized. A very attractive shade of gray serves as the backdrop for an outlined V and a touch of white on the shoulders with an underlying pink stripe. Pure class.
It would have made sense for three beautiful women to model the 2011/12 kits for Brest, who finished just above the relegation zone last season by a nipple. At the very least, they would have averted your attention from the sponsors which litter almost every inch of the uniforms. The home kits are plain white with numerous colorful icons and a collar, while the away kits opted for a crew neck, red torso, and white sleeves. Alternatively, you could stare at the optical illusion that is Brest’s third kit – perhaps a strategy to dizzy opponents and pocket a few more points this season.
SM Caen will host other French clubs with a Barcelona-esque blue/red striped kit…the only problem being they are anything but. On the road, a much more attractive white kit with light gray vertical stripes that alternate in girth very similar to…the Barcelona home shirt! Luckily, the third kit has no similarities to any of the Catalan club’s shirts for this coming season. Although it does offer a lack of creativity.
Mustard Football Côte d’Or make their inaugural leap to France’s top division after establishment just thirteen years ago. Because of this wonderful story and their lack of experience with the “big boys”, we will excuse any further lambasting of their home kit and let the rating do the talking. 4/10
The defending champs have the biggest targets of anyone on their backs. The loss of Gervinho to Arsenal shouldn’t take anything away from some of the most beautiful football played on the continent last season. Say what you will about the Groupe Partouche “P” on the front but from this perspective it looks excellent. The letter choice itself, combined with the penmanship, evokes an image of the famed mark of The Punisher. Two thick horizontal strips pass across the chest of the Umbro-designed shirts. And there’s only one sponsor!
Did you really think the single sponsor look would become trendy? Are you confused which patch belongs to the sponsor and which to the club? Who made the shirt – Armor-Lux or Duarig? Too many questions for what ought to be a straight-forward analysis of the shirt? 3/10
Lyon craves for another taste of silverware and they are well on their way if performance mirrored the attractiveness of their shirts. Adidas has taken the same color combination as the Hamburg home kit and added a much more creative touch. Blue/red stripes outline the sleeves and collar, while a thicker version crosses the chest. Very clean and elegant with an old-school look. Supporters traveling with the squad will be treated to a classy blue shirt with a white collar and sleeve lining. The alternate kits look like vomit. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that to an 80’s themed party.
Evian Thonon Gaillard
It doesn’t hurt to have the best name in football. The newly promoted side is located in the same Swiss border-town where Evian water is produced, thus the design on the shirt depicting the blue Alps. A light pink serves as the background color which fades to white on the sleeves. Even though the conglomerate of sponsors might put you off, don’t forget the club name: Evian Thonon Gaillard. 7/10
Olympique de Marseille
Marseille’s white home shirt changed the patch color to gold from blue, and added some faded diagonal blue strips across the front. Very neat and chic. From there everything goes downhill. The European kit may cause opponents some eye trouble with the dizzying array of horizontal stripes. As for the away shirt, the team has opted for a blue camouflage design which should help them blend right into the blue grass…
The blue home shirt is “star studded” with the Sud de France logo and an orange V across the chest. For road trips, the French southerners ditch the V for a white jersey with a teal blue-lined crew neck. Very subtle and harmless.
No, that isn’t my mother’s name. And no, Les Chardons will not be wearing attractive jerseys at home this season. 3/10
Nice Côte d’Azur
The two sponsors, Takara and Mad Croc, are more attractive than the home shirt itself. While the combination of red/black stripes and golden strips on the shoulder may appear intimidating, the playful Mad Croc mascot abruptly eliminates any such feeling. The white away kit suffers from horizontal stripe interruptus with an awkward wave-like design over the heart. Neither is very appealing.
Perhaps the most thrilling development of the summer has been the takeover of PSG by Qatari investors who have spent close to 100 million euros on transfers. It is a fresh site for French football, much like Malaga’s new Middle Eastern owners. Whether that translates into results is yet to be seen, but for the moment no money has gone towards a new shirt design. The home kit resembles the design of previous years, while the away shirt flaunts a clean white look with a horizontal, blue-outlined, red strip across the chest. Classic and classy.
The Brittany based club, who punched above their weight last season finishing an impressive sixth and only four points from a European spot, enter the next campaign with an excellent array of kits. While the red home shirt features a simple diagonal black stripe, it is the away kit which steals the show. Horizontal black/white stripes gives way to a collection of eleven crosses which also feature on the Rennes coat of arms. Not to mention a giant ‘S’ on the chest of all three shirts to evoke the spirit of Superman! Too bad the alternate kit is anything but super.
Poor bastards. Nothing positive can be said about either kit.
One of France’s most famous clubs has chosen two elegant designs for this coming season. For home matches they will wear a green salad of colors amidst vertical stripes and a clean white collar. On the road, the shirts will feature a sporty collar with horizontal green/white stripes. However, points must be deducted when the sponsor interferes with the overall design of the shirt.
Most notable for its rugby union club, Toulouse has witnessed a resurgence in its football and the club has engineered some catchy kits to supplement the increased exposure. The home kit is a typical vertically striped shirt, but how often is purple the main color? And an appealing shade no less? Trips away from the Municipal Stadium will see the club don a white shirt with a vertical purple/gray stripe down the middle, as well as gray trim on the collar and sleeves. No, that third shirt isn’t for the goalie. The team might actually wear it.
Nothing but a whole bowl of wrong here. 3/10