PSG starts French title defense at modest Clermont

June 17, 2022 GMT
PSG's Angel Di Maria, at center embraces PSG's Kylian Mbappe as he is substituted in his final game for the club during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
PSG's Angel Di Maria, at center embraces PSG's Kylian Mbappe as he is substituted in his final game for the club during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
PSG's Angel Di Maria, at center embraces PSG's Kylian Mbappe as he is substituted in his final game for the club during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
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PSG's Angel Di Maria, at center embraces PSG's Kylian Mbappe as he is substituted in his final game for the club during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
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PSG's Angel Di Maria, at center embraces PSG's Kylian Mbappe as he is substituted in his final game for the club during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Metz at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Saturday, May 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

PARIS (AP) — Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain begins its bid for a record 11th French league title at modest Clermont in a season where games will be played on New Year’s Day.

The opening round is over Aug. 5-7 and the league will have games on Jan. 1 and 2 for the first time because of a break for the World Cup in Qatar.

There will be a six-week hiatus; the winter break starting on Nov. 14 and resuming on Dec. 28 with a midweek round.

PSG shares the record for titles with 10-time champions Marseille and Saint-Etienne, which was relegated last season along with six-time winner Bordeaux.

Clermont finished in 17th place last season to avoid relegation.

PSG could have a new coach when the league begins, with Mauricio Pochettino touted to be replaced. PSG failed to reach the Champions League quarterfinals and lost its French Cup title in a difficult season where Kylian Mbappe’s goals papered over glaring cracks.

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Marseille was runner-up last season to qualify automatically for the Champions League, and starts the season at home to Reims.

Monaco, which finished third to enter the Champions League qualifying rounds, has a tough match at Alsace-based Strasbourg.

It was not yet decided who will play in the season-opening Friday night match on Aug. 5.

The league ends later than usual on June 3.

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