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We choose the campaign's best XI from Le Championnat, which came to a conclusion on Sunday as Montpellier defied expectations to lift a first-ever league title

In the end, it was a fairytale story. No one gave Montpellier the time of day back in August when the new Ligue 1 season was clouded by an extravagant spending spree by newly-rich Paris Saint-Germain, but not even they could've forseen this. Montpellier, promoted only in 2009 have won their first-ever league title. Carlo Ancelotti's side, who were top under the stewardship of Antoine Kombouare at Christmas settled for second. The likes of Evian overperformed, while 2010 champions Marseille fell well below expectations. Goal.com analyses the best performers in a stellar 2011-12 league campaign.

There appeared to be some confusion last summer when PSG signed Salvatore Sirigujust days after snapping up former Rennes No.1 Nicholas Douchez, but the move appeared to be a stroke of genius. The Italian international joined from Palermo for €3.5 million has been an influential figure between the sticks. Sirigu displayed moments of brilliance, and ensured a better-than-expected debut season in French football.

Fresh from winning last season's title, Mathieu Debuchy's career has hit new heights in the 2011-12 campaign. The right-back broke into the French national team with an impressive performance against Germany, as well as becoming first-choice at Euro 2012. And most of it is down to Debuchy's wondrous outings in Ligue 1. With seven appearances in Goal.com's Ligue 1 Team of the Week (TOTW) and four goals, the 26 year old, reportedly courted by Manchester Utd has provided an immense mixture of defensive capability and attacking guile to Lille's back four.

Toulouse might have had an unspectacular league campaign, but Tunisian international Aymen Abdennour enjoyed a stellar season in the heart of defence for le Tefece. Contributing to the league's most solid rearguard is no mean feat, and the 22 year old - signed from Etoile du Sahel for €500,000 - has already been linked with a move to Barcelona. Abdennour has the knack of being in the right place at the right time, with the game-winning performance against Marseille in week 26 a testament to his ability.

After being released by Marseille last summer, Hilton joined Montpellier on a free transfer, oblivious to the fact that la Paillade would embark on a charge towards the title. And yet, where Rene Girard's side have been supplemented by youth, the Brazilian has injected experience to the team which have won praise from all quarters. Hilton's positioning and tough-tackling nature has brought him a second league title in three years. 

Henri Bedimo's switch to Montpellier from relegated Lens last summer perhaps fell under the radar with the arrival of PSG's world stars, but few deals had as much impact as Bedimo did at Stade de la Mosson this season. He missed all but two league games, and was a constant threat on the left flank. With eight appearances in Goal.com's Ligue 1 Team of the Week throughout the season, no other left-back reached the heights of the Cameroonian in the French top flight.

Rio Mavuba was also a major figure in Lille's league campaign. The 28 year old started all but one Ligue 1 match this season, and whilst not particularly known for his attacking qualities, his fearsome presence just in front of the defence in a three-man midfield has proved vital at various occasions this term. Mavuba has grown into one of the best defensive midfielders in the French game, but agonisingly missed out on the Euro 2012 squad.

Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue gains his place in the Team of the Year after enjoying his best-ever season at Stadium Municipal. The young midfielder finished with three goals and three assists. All the goals came in three consecutive weeks at the beginning of the season, but since then, it has been his defensive, ball-playing technique that has drawn more than a few admiring glances from the likes of Arsenal, Inter, Barcelona and Liverpool. Often compared to another of the league's best midfielders - Yann M'Vila - it remains to be seen whether the 23-year-old has earned himself a big-money move.

When the likes of Javier Pastore and Thiago Motta joined PSG, it would've been conceived as unlikely that one of last season's players would ultimately step up to the mettle and become the club's most important players, and yet that's exactly what Nene achieved. Five goals in the last three games of the season epitomises the importance of the 30-year-old to PSG. His attacking instinct and immense dribbling ability has seen him rack up 21 league goals and nine assists. His hat-trick against Rennes in week 37 ensured the title went to the final day. Carlo Ancelotti's men might've spent more than €100m on transfers, but their actual superstar was in fact, a little closer to home than they thought.

Younes Belhanda emerged as one of the star players of the 2011-12 league season with inspirational performances throughout the campaign. He scored 12 goals and supplied four assists, who in truth had much more impact than the statistics suggest. With critics expecting la Paillade to falter towards the end, Belhanda stepped up a gear with a sumptuous scissor-kick against Marseille which earned the Goal of the Season award. The 22-year-old's involvement was curtailed with a four-match ban after the infamous fracas against Evian, but the Moroccan's influence was already evident as the league title was delivered.

After winning the Player & Young Player of the Season awards last term, it was difficult to see how Eden Hazard could've topped his own efforts after refusing plenty of offers from major European clubs. And yet the 21-year-old simply dazzled with a brilliant 17 goals and 15 assists in the league - a feat only bettered by Lionel Messi in European football. One of his best games came against PSG a few weeks ago where the attacking midfielder scored a penalty before delivering a delicious rabona cross for Nolan Roux to steal the winner to provisionally put Lille back into the title race. In his final farewell, the No.10 delivered a fitting end with a hat-trick to down Nancy. Hazard has been highly influential for Rudi Garcia's men, and with a summer move to the Premier League on the cards, the Belgian wonderkid has certainly left his mark on French football.

It was only two years ago when Montpellier signed Olivier Giroud from Tours for only €2m. In that time, Giroud has blossomed into one of Europe's top strikers with 21 goals to aid an unlikely title charge for Rene Girard's men. Giroud has kept Montpellier afloat when all seemed lost with game-changing goals against Nice and Evian. Heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich, the 25-year-old, who scored two hat-tricks this season, has arguably made it to the big-time after leading the club to their maiden title.

SIRIGU
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
 Conceded: 40
TOTW Apps: 2

DEBUCHY HILTON ABDENNOUR BEDIMO
LILLE MONTPELLIER TOULOUSE
MONTPELLIER
Goals/Assists: 4/1 Goals/Assists: 1/1 Goals/Assists: 2/0 Goals/Assists: 1/1
TOTW Apps: 7 TOTW Apps: 4 TOTW Apps: 8
TOTW Apps: 8

MAVUBA CAPOUE
LILLE TOULOUSE
Goals/Assists: 1/1 Goals/Assists: 3/3
TOTW Apps: 3 TOTW Apps: 3

HAZARD
BELHANDA NENE
LILLE
MONTPELLIER
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
 Goals/Assists: 20/15
Goals/Assists: 12/4
Goals/Assists: 21/9
 TOTW Apps: 8 TOTW Apps: 5
TOTW Apps: 5

GIROUD
MONTPELLIER
Goals/Assists: 21/5
TOTW Apps: 7

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