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Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe and teammates celebrate a goal against Troyes in a Ligue 1 match Stade de l'Aube in May. Image Credit: Reuters

Paris: Paris St Germain will begin their Ligue 1 title defence at home to Lorient on the opening weekend of the season after the fixtures for the 2023-24 campaign were released on Thursday.

The new season, which begins on Aug. 12, will have only 34 matchdays after the top-flight was trimmed from 20 teams to 18, with only two clubs promoted from the second tier while four Ligue 1 sides went down.

PSG then visit French Cup winners Toulouse before they welcome last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up Lens.

New campaign

Lens finished just one point behind PSG and will begin their new campaign at Brest. Olympique de Marseille, who finished third, host Stade de Reims.

PSG’s schedule does not get any easier as they take on arch-rivals Marseille on matchday six on Sept. 24 in ‘Le Classique’.

PSG sealed their 11th Ligue 1 title last season amid turmoil at the club after they were knocked out of the Champions League in the last-16.

Seven-times Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi opted not to renew his contract after he was booed by the fans and left for Inter Miami at the end of his contract.

No Annecy

Ligue 2 fixtures were also announced without Annecy in the list despite the French club stating on Wednesday that they will stay in the second-tier after they were relegated last season.

After the final game of the Ligue 1 season between Girondins de Bordeaux and Rodez was abandoned following a fan’s assault on goalscorer Lucas Buades, Rodez were handed the victory by governing body LFP earlier this month.

The decision ensured that Rodez remained in Ligue 2, with Annecy being relegated as a result. Annecy had tried and failed to convince the LFP to make Ligue 2 a 21-club competition.

However, Annecy then stated that since the DNCG, the entity that controls the clubs’ finances, had announced the administrative relegation of Sochaux, a spot was open for Annecy to stay in Ligue 2.

But Sochaux, who are scheduled to start their season at Troyes, said they will be appealing the decision.