Paris Saint-Germain finished 2015 by breaking the Ligue 1 record for points at this stage of the season and hold a 19-point lead over the competition. The title may already be decided but it doesn’t mean the league doesn’t hold charm further down the table.
There is only a 15-point gap between Monaco in second and Toulouse down in 19th. No one else can find form on a consistent basis. This has led to a whole host of teams impressing this season, and with that a wide selection of players have caught the eye.
Here is my Ligue 1 Team of the Season (So Far)
Goalkeeper: Ludovic Butelle (SCO Angers)
No one would have predicted Angers finishing the year in third place, and the ‘keeper has been a huge part of their success. With 11 clear sheets in 19 games, no one in the league has made more saves.
The former Valencia, Lille and Metz player has showed a calm head in commanding his area and the reflexes of an excellent shot stopper. He has impressed so much PSG are rumoured to be interested.
Right-Back: Serge Aurier (Paris Saint-Germain)
Last season, only on loan at the champions, Aurier failed to find his feet and looked out of place at times. This season, with his move made permanent, the Ivorian, who was heavily linked with Arsenal while at Toulouse, has been exceptional.
He is a force in the air, scoring goals from set-pieces, but defensively he is an upgrade on Gregory van der Wiel and provides width a creativity from the wing.
Centre-Back: Romain Thomas (SCO Angers)
Until this season, Romain Thomas had never played any higher than Ligue 2, but now the 27-year-old can be considered a commanding presence in Angers defence.
Positionally he is always where you want him to be and he will throw his body into harms way to protect his team’s goal. On the ball he is composed, economical and adept at picking out a pin-point long ball.
Centre-Back: Samuel Umtiti (Olympique Lyonnais)
You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Samuel Umtiti has played 12 games this season before picking up an injury against Saint-Etienne, OL recorded seven clean sheets with the 22-year-old at the heart of the defence.
In the nine games Umtiti has missed, Lyon conceded 19 goals. Hubert Fournier has missed his ability to bring the ball out of defence, his athleticism and his all-round defensive prowess. Lyon have only won twice since his injury, underlying his importance to Les Gones.
Left-Back: Djibril Sidibé (Lille OSC)
Despite their awful season in front of goal, Lille still have the third best defensive record in Ligue 1. Although he is a natural right-back, Djibril Sidibé is enjoying a great season on the left-flank.
He is not the best player when asked to actually defend, but let him play on the front foot and you are all but adding another winger to the Lille front-line. With three goals and two assists, he has been one of LOSC’s most influential players this season.
Defensive Midfield: Lassana Diarra (Olympique Marseille)
This former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder is one of the best stories in the league this season. He signed for Marseille with no one giving him much chance of succeeding, but now he is back in the national team and has proved himself to be one of Marseille’s leaders both on and off the pitch.
Success has come from his ability to read the game, protect the defence and then look to create opportunities for his team to break. He looks a much improved and mature player than the one that left the Premier League in 2009.
Central Midfield: Cheikh N’Doye (SCO Angers)
After one season at Creteil in Ligue 1, Cheikh N’Doye had done enough to convince Stephan Moulin to take him to Angers this summer, and the Senegalese man-mountain hasn’t looked back.
His height and power make him a dangerous weapon at set-pieces and he has capitalised, scoring five times. N’Doye is not just a juggernaut, he can turn, run with the ball and play as a box-to-box midfielder.
Taking everyone by surprise, it’s easy to see why Premier League clubs are now showing an interest.
Attacking Midfield: Julien Feret (SM Caen)
Patrice Garande’s side have found success playing as the perfect counter-attacking team this season. Julien Feret is the magician conducting the band in the middle of the park.
No one has created more, with three assists, but with his wand of a right foot Feret has also scored three. He may be 33 years old, but he is showing that his creativity is timeless.
Right-Wing: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain)
After his disappointing spell at Manchester United, no one was sure what PSG were going to get from the Argentine midfielder. However, Di Maria has banished memories of Old Trafford, excelling in Laurent Blanc’s attack.
Floating around the Parc des Princes pitch, Di Maria has provided danger from every blade of grass. Balls over the top, runs in behind and shots from distance, no defence is safe. He leads Ligue 1 in assists with nine, and has added six goals. Oh how Louis van Gaal could do with that return this season.
Left-Wing: Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Olympique de Marseille)
Without André Ayew, Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin, Marseille were looking for new heroes to provide width and an attacking threat. With the likes of Lucas Ocampos and Remy Cabella struggling to fill the void, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou was given an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.
The direct running style of the 20-year-old has caught the attention of the OM fans. He has shown no fear, and added that to his speed and dribbling ability to provide two goals and score another three himself.
Centre-Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain)
There was only one player that could spearhead this attack. After a frustrating campaign last year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks like he has turned back the clock for PSG in 2015. This season his 15 goals leads all goal scorers, and another eight assists makes him the most devastating player in the league.
With his fitness levels back to as close as the 34-year-old can get to 100%, he has even gone back to attempting acrobatic, audacious attempts on goal. Supported by Di Maria this season, that combination has been outstanding, with the Swede reaping the benefits.
GK: Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne), Clement Maury (Gazelec)
DF: Damien Da Silva (Caen), Loic Perrin (Saint-Etienne), Issiaga Sylla (Gazelec)
MF: Thomas Mangani (Angers), Marco Verratti (PSG), Wahbi Khazri (Bordeaux)
FW: Andy Delort (Caen), Benjamin Moukandjo (Lorient), Michy Batshuayi (Marseille)
Read more from Andrew Gibney