If you’ve just started following French football, you may be a bit confused about some of the country’s competitions. 2 of the major competitions that French teams play are Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France.
So how are the two competitions different?
Here’s what you need to know:
- 1 The difference between Ligue 1 and Coupe de France
- 2 Number of teams involved
- 3 Frequency and duration of competition
- 4 Number of matches played
- 5 Format of the competition
- 6 Presence of replays
- 7 Squad size
- 8 Loan player rules
- 9 Prizes for winning competition
- 10 Verdict
- 11 Do Coupe de France games count in Ligue 1?
- 12 Conclusion
The difference between Ligue 1 and Coupe de France
The Ligue 1 is France’s top tier of league football involving 20 teams. It follows a European league format where each team plays each other twice a season. Meanwhile, the Coupe de France involves teams from every division in France, and it uses a knockout style format.
Here’s an in-depth explanation of the differences between the two:
Number of teams involved
Ligue 1 is contested by the top 20 teams in the French football pyramid.
Meanwhile, Coupe de France involves teams from all the various tiers of France from Ligue 1 to as low as grassroots football and non-league teams.
This can result in teams from Ligue 1 playing against teams from the lower leagues, such as OGC Nice playing against FC Versailles 78.
As a result, a whopping 7,378 teams participated in the 2021 Coupe de France.
Frequency and duration of competition
Both Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France are held annually as part of the French football calendar.
Both competitions start at the same time in August. However, only the preliminary rounds of the Coupe de France are played at this time of the year.
Top tier teams from Ligue 1 and 2 don’t join the competition until later on in the round of 64 which starts in December.
This has led to some stunning cup upsets down the years!
Number of matches played
Ligue one teams play a total of 38 matches every season. This is because you will face all the other 19 teams in the division twice, once at home and once away.
For the Coupe de France, the maximum number of games a team can play is 13. However, this is unlikely as it can only be done by teams from bottom-tier divisions and grassroots levels that enter the tournament at the very first stage.
For Ligue one teams, they enter at the Round of 64 stages and will need to play 6 rounds to win the tournament.
The number of matches you play in the Coupe de France to reach the final depends on the tier where your club is currently playing at.
Format of the competition
Like most other European leagues, Ligue 1 employs a double round-robin format. Each team will play the other 19 teams in the league twice.
Meanwhile, the Coupe de France is a knockout competition throughout the tournament. The winner of each match advances to the next stage and the loser is eliminated from the competition.
As such, there is a bit more pressure to win every game in the Coupe de France compared to Ligue 1.
You still stand a chance of performing well in Ligue 1 if you lose some games, however, you’ll be eliminated from the Coupe de France when you lose a match!
Only the Coupe de France has a final
Due to the knockout round format of the Coupe de France, there will eventually be two teams competing to be the champions in the cup final.
These are the two teams that have been winning every matchup till the final.
Meanwhile, Ligue 1 does not have a final and the winner of the competition is decided based on the best performing team over the 38 rounds of league matches.
You can read a guide on how to read a football league table here.
There is a very slight possibility of a “final ” being played to decide a league champion in Ligue 1. This is the case of a playoff match where all the other tie-breakers have been exhausted, such as:
- Goal difference
- Number of goals scored
- Hed-to-head records
- Number of away goals scored in a head-to-head match
If the teams are still tied after these, a 90-minute playoff at a neutral venue will decide the league champions.
Presence of replays
There are no replays in the Coupe de France. Matches that end in a tie go straight to penalty shootouts.
Extra time was removed at the start of the 2020/21 season by the France Football Federation.
Moreover, there are no replays in Ligue 1 either. For matches that end in a draw, both teams share one point each. There is no need for a match to have a winner in a league format.
Here are the points that the team will earn based on the result of each match:
|Result||Number of points|
The rules are not clear regarding squad size in Ligue 1. However, in Football Manager, it was stated that a squad can register a maximum of 4 non-EU players.
The Coupe de France allows up to 20 players in each matchday squad. This involved 11 starters and 9 substitutes.
Loan player rules
Some leagues like the Premier League clearly state that loan players cannot play against their parent clubs. However, no such rules exist in France. Players on loan are allowed to face their parent clubs in both the Coupe de France and Ligue 1.
Paris Saint Germain loanees Marcin Bulka and Timothee Pembele have both played against PSG in the 2021/22 season of Coupe de France and Ligue 1 respectively.
You can read more about loan player rules in the different leagues here.
Prizes for winning competition
Here are some of the prizes a team will receive for winning both competitions:
|Ligue 1||Coupe de France|
|European Qualification||Champions League||Europa League|
Trophée des Champions
When comparing the 2020/21 prize money, the winners of Ligue 1 will receive greater prize money than the winners of Coupe de France. (60 million euros vs 2.05 million Euros).
By winning Ligue 1 you may be able to receive greater rewards. This is because:
- You are able to play in the Champions League
- You will receive a much higher prize money
Both the Coupe de France and Ligue 1 champions face each other in the Trophée des Champions. This is usually the curtain-raiser before the start of the football season.
If the Ligue 1 champions also win the Coupe de France, the runner-up for the Ligue 1 will play in the Trophée des Champions.
Here is a summary of the differences between Ligue 1 and Coupe de France:
|Ligue 1||Coupe de France|
|Number of |
|10 months||10 months|
|Number of |
matches per team
|38||Max of 13|
|Format of |
|Squad size||Maximum 4 |
|20 players in |
the matchday squad
|Loan player rules||Can play against |
|Can play against |
|Prizes for winning||Champions League||Europa League|
Do Coupe de France games count in Ligue 1?
Coupe de France games do not count as matches played in Ligue 1. This is because the Coupe de France and Ligue 1 are two separate competitions that are hosted by the FFF.
The Coupe de France and Ligue 1 are 2 of the major competitions during the European football season.
In the end, Ligue 1 can be considered to be more prestigious, due to the quality of the teams in the competition.
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