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.

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.


More AP soccer: and