Laurent Blanc, the former France international defender carried Bordeaux over the finish line in just his second year in management, as les Girondins claimed a league record 11 wins in a row to sneak to the title past Marseille and 7-time winners Lyon, having only taken the lead of the championship with two games to go.
It was Bordeaux’s first title victory in a decade, which itself was won on the final day and ahead of Marseille. The Gironde side were powered by the dazzling talents of Marouane Chamakh and Yoann Gourcuff, the next player to be anointed as the successor to Zinedine Zidane.
The close season saw a number of changes on the back of the European Championships - with the most of the top sides selling key talent. Marseille let young star Samir Nasri depart for Arsenal, while Sebastien Squillaci departed Lyon for Sevilla. Jeremy Menez was transferred to AS Roma, while Johan Elmander also quit France for the Premier League.
It was Lyon who bucked the trend however, given their dominant position in Ligue 1 at the time - having won the last 7 titles and their continued participation in the money-spinning UEFA Champions League. They complemented their squad with the signings of Ederson, Jean II Makoun, Miralem Pjanic, John Mensah and Hugo Lloris.
The saga of the summer turned out to be that of Hatem Ben Arfa, the maligned young winger sensationally departing Stade Gerland in acrimonious circumstances to force through a move to Marseille - where he’d do the same three years later.
On the benches, Claude Puel - the former Monaco boss was named head coach at Lyon, with Michel der Zakarian swapped for Elie Baup at Nantes in August. Alain Perrin, who had just master-minded a title win for OL popped up at arch-rivals Saint-Etienne in November.
After several false-starts, there was silent optimism that this would finally be the season that Lyon’s record title run would finally come to an end after seven years. Not only were the champions relatively strong, but they were met by a fluid Bordeaux side and an uncharacteristically stable Marseille side now sailing in smooth waters with Eric Gerets at the helm.
It was Marseille who led the early stages of the championship before Lyon quickly settled into their typical rhythm, defeating Bordeaux, while OM suffered with surprise defeats to Lorient and Nancy. Nevertheless, Blanc’s Girondins side were eye-catching, none more so than an incredible 4-3 win against Monaco, having been down by three.
While Lyon were at the helm, the other two quickly pulled away from the rest of the league. The surprise package however were Toulouse, who were occupying the European spots thanks to a prolific Andre-Pierre Gignac.
The winter had proved difficult for Bordeaux, who had gone 4 games without victory before they too suffered a surprise 3-0 reverse at TFC at Stadium Municipal. Lyon also begun to tumble, allowing Marseille to move into the lead in April - as OL began to drift 7 points behind the leader after a surprise 2-0 reverse to Valenciennes.
Quietly however, Bordeaux began to chain the victories - keeping them in touch with OM at the top. It would be a matter of who blinked first. And that proved to be OM, against their great rival Lyon who secured a 1-3 win at Stade Velodrome on the 36th matchweek to all but hand Bordeaux the title. Blanc’s men ended the campaign in style, notching their 11th consecutive win against Caen.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
The young France international wowed the league with his playmaking efforts throughout a tense campaign.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
The Marseille coach was awarded the gong ahead of Laurent Blanc for masterminding a strong league campaign for OM, who would almost seal the title had it not been for a tough defeat in May against Lyon.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON
The then 18-year-old picked up a surprise award in a relatively successful season for Lille. It was Hazard’s first full season, contributing 6 goals and 4 assists.
The Martigues-born forward won the top goalscorer award, finishing well ahead of Karim Benzema and Guillaume Hoarau.
TEAM OF THE SEASON
LLORIS; FANNI, DIAWARA, HILTON, TAIWO; SESSEGNON, CHEYROU, GOURCUFF, BASTOS; HOARAU, GIGNAC
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Nice to Lyon
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
A victory for Lyon, but a title for Bordeaux - it was this charged encounter two weeks before the end of the season that ended OM’s title hopes and put Bordeaux in the driving seat. They duly delivered with two wins out of the remaining two games to wrap up the title.