Robert Bhamber provides you with the most comprehensive preview of all of this weekend’s Ligue 1 fixtures you will find. We promise:
Friday: Marseille (5th) vs Nice (16th) (19:30 GMT)
Marseille kick off Week 28 as they welcome Nice to the Stade Velodrome on Friday evening. Just 5 days ago, Marseille lost ground in the fight for Champions League qualification as they were beaten by league leaders PSG, allowing third-placed Lille to move further ahead due to their victory over Ajaccio. With only eleven games to go, they need to ensure they pick up all three points in games such as these if they are to once again play in Europe’s premier competition next season.
Visitors Nice are one of the many teams in the bottom half of Ligue 1 who face no realistic threat of relegation and despite their lowly league position of 16th, they are only five points away from a place in the top half. In fact, there are only nine points between 8th and 16th position, so a run of either good or bad form could drastically alter a team’s place in the table come the end of the season.
– Marseille are unbeaten in their last five league home matches.
– They haven’t dropped below sixth in the table since the season started.
– Nice are currently on a four game winless run in the league.
– They have also lost their last three league away games.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Nice won 1-0 at the Allianz Riviera.
Saturday: Bastia (9th) vs PSG (1st) (15:30 GMT)
Bastia’s tough fixture list continues as league leaders PSG visit the Stade Armand Cesari on Saturday. Bastia have also faced high-flyers Monaco and St Etienne at home within the last three weeks, losing both games 2-0. Nevertheless, Frederic Hantz’s side retain a decent record at home this season but PSG will no doubt provide their toughest challenge yet.
The capital side moved eight points clear at the top of the table last week thanks to their victory over Marseille and Monaco’s defeat to St Etienne. If they win this game, Laurent Blanc’s side will find themselves 11 points ahead of their nearest rivals, as Monaco don’t play until later in the day.
– Bastia have taken 26 points from a possible 39 at home this season.
– They have kept seven clean sheets this season, all of which have come at the Stade Armand Cesari.
– PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not only the league’s top goalscorer (22); he also has the most league assists (10).
– PSG have lost just one league away game this season, 2-0 against Evian.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, PSG comfortably won 4-0 at the Parc des Princes.
Saturday: Valenciennes (18th) vs Rennes (14th) (19:00 GMT)
Valenciennes continue their battle to escape the relegation zone as they take on Rennes at the Stade du Hainaut. They head into the weekend on 22 points, five away from Evian in 17th. Despite their position in the table, Valenciennes have been in decent form at home of late; they are unbeaten in their last five league home games. Manager Ariel Jacobs will therefore surely be looking at this match against a mid-table Rennes side as a winnable game.
Rennes are in no danger of relegation themselves, they are nine points above the bottom three and will be looking to finish the season in as high as position as possible. A win this weekend could take them up to 11th in the table.
– Valenciennes are unbeaten at home in the league this season in games where they have scored first.
– They have however, only won one of their last seven Ligue 1 games.
– Rennes have taken just 12 points from a possible 39 on the road this season.
– They have also picked up three red cards in away games so far this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Valenciennes came from two goals down to draw 2-2 away at Rennes.
Saturday: Toulouse (10th) vs Reims (7th) (19:00 GMT)
Toulouse host an in-form Reims team at the Stadium Municipal, with the home side looking to further secure their position in the top half of the table. Alain Casanova will be hoping his team can win back-to-back Ligue 1 games for only the third time this season after last week’s 2-0 victory away at Nice.
Reims meanwhile, still have an outside chance of playing European football next season. They are seven points behind Lille in third, but a Europa League place remains a possibility for one of this season’s surprise packages. Reims have been in good form of late, winning three of their last four league games and only losing at Monaco due to an injury time winner.
– Toulouse haven’t won any of their last six home league games.
– However, Toulouse are yet to lose at home this season in games where they have scored the first goal.
– Reims have won exactly half of the points available to them in away games this season, taking 21 out of 42.
– Reims have lost only three away games in the league this season; at Rennes, St Etienne and Monaco.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Reims won 2-1 at the Stade Auguste Delaune.
Saturday: Monaco (2nd) vs Sochaux (19th) (19:00 GMT)
Second-from-top meets second-from-bottom as Monaco try to close the gap between themselves and PSG against relegation candidates Sochaux. Claudio Ranieri’s men could be up to 11 points behind PSG by the time this match kicks off, so they know they can’t afford any more slip-ups like last week’s loss to St Etienne.
Struggling Sochaux shouldn’t cause Monaco too many problems though, as they have the worst away record in the league this season. They head into Week 28 on 22 points, which is five away from Evian in 17th. Herve Renard probably won’t be expecting to take any points from this match, but he will be hoping his team keeps the game as tight as possible.
– Monaco have lost just one home league game this season, against Valenciennes in Week 19.
– Monaco have not suffered back-to-back defeats in the league this season.
– Sochaux have yet to win an away league match this season.
– However, they are unbeaten in their last three Ligue 1 games, winning two and drawing the other.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Sochaux held Monaco to a 2-2 draw at the Stade Auguste Bonal.
Saturday: Nantes (15th) vs Ajaccio (20th) (19:00 GMT)
Nantes host rock-bottom Ajaccio at the Stade de la Beaujoire on Saturday. The home side look to have pretty much secured their place in Ligue 1 for another season as they are currently nine points above the relegation zone and a place in the top half of the table will now be the ambition for Michel Der Zakarian and his players. However, Nantes have had their transfer ban upheld by FIFA this week, meaning they will be unable to register any new players until the summer of 2015.
Meanwhile, Ajaccio will be hoping to take advantage of the fact that Nantes don’t have much to play for as they look to catch up with the other teams at the bottom end of Ligue 1. The visitors are eight points adrift at the bottom of the table and 13 points from safety. If Ajaccio are to have any hope of saving themselves, they need to start winning games like these.
– Nantes don’t have a particularly good home record, losing seven out of their 13 home league games this season.
– However, they have won every home league game this season in which they have scored first.
– Ajaccio have yet to win away from home in the league, taking just four points from away games this season.
– They have also lost their last three Ligue 1 games.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Nantes won 1-0 at the Stade Francois Coty.
Saturday: Guingamp (13th) vs Evian (17th) (19:00 GMT)
Guingamp host Evian at the Stade du Roudourou as they look to consolidate their mid-table position in Ligue 1. The home side have rectified their bad run of form of late by winning their last two league matches at home to Nice and away at Rennes. Jocelyn Gourvennec will be hoping to make it three wins in a row with a victory over an Evian side that has struggled throughout the season.
The visitors managed to move five points clear of the relegation zone thanks to their 2-0 win over Nantes last week. Pascal Dupraz will be hoping for a couple more wins in the coming weeks so that Evian can move even further away from the bottom three and look to gain ground on the likes of Nantes, Nice and Rennes who are four points away from them in the table.
– Before they won their last two games, Guingamp had gone 10 league games without a victory.
– Last week’s win over Rennes moved Guingamp up three places in the table, from 16th to 13th.
– Evian have won just one of their last 11 league games.
– They have also taken just 9 points from the 39 available in away league games this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Guingamp won 2-1 at the Parc des Sports.
Sunday: Lille (3rd) vs Montpellier (11th) (13:00 GMT)
Rene Girard takes on his former club as Lille face Montpellier at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday afternoon. Girard famously won the title with Montpellier back in 2011/12. His current team Lille narrowly lead the way in the fight for the final Champions League position in Ligue 1, sitting just one point above St Etienne.
Montpellier have been in resurgent form in 2014, as Rolland Courbis has eased any relegation fears by leading them from 17th to a comfortable position in mid-table. However, an away trip to Lille may be the toughest challenge they have come across this year.
– Lille have lost just two home league games this season, to Nice and Reims.
– Lille haven’t dropped below third place in the table since Week 8.
– Montpellier are unbeaten in their last nine Ligue 1 matches.
– They have picked up a shocking seven red cards in away league matches this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Lille won 1-0 away at the Stade de la Mosson.
Sunday: Lorient (12th) vs St Etienne (4th) (16:00 GMT)
Lorient welcome St Etienne to the Stade du Moustoir as the visitors continue their chase for Champions League football. Lorient are however, quite difficult to beat on their own turf, losing just twice at home this season. Christian Gourcuff’s side managed to end their three game losing streak last week by holding Bastia to a 1-1 draw and he will be hoping for another positive result against a side with high ambitions.
St Etienne pulled off a huge victory last week by overcoming Monaco 2-0 at home and sending a real statement of intent to the other teams chasing that elusive third Champions League position. Christophe Galtier’s men are just one point away from Lille, who beat Montpellier themselves only last week.
– The only teams to beat Lorient at home in the league this season are Marseille and Toulouse.
– Heading into this match, Lorient haven’t won any of their last six Ligue 1 games.
– St Etienne have won all five of their away league games in which they have scored first.
– However, they have lost all five of their away leagues games in which they have conceded first.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, St Etienne won 3-2 at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Sunday: Bordeaux (8th) vs Lyon (6th) (20:00 GMT)
Bordeaux host Lyon at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in the last fixture of Week 28, with both sides hoping to boost their European aspirations. The home side have 40 points so far this season, just two behind visitors Lyon. However, they are on a bit of a bad run of form at the moment, losing five out of their last eight league matches.
Lyon’s form has been almost the complete opposite in recent weeks. Remi Garde’s side are have lost just one of their last 12 league matches, shooting from 12th to 6th in the table in the meantime. If they can keep their good form up for the next couple of months as well, then it is not beyond imagination that they could creep up on St Etienne and Lille in the fight for third.
– Bordeaux have kept seven clean sheets in the league this season, but only one in their last 10 matches.
– They have won their last three home league matches.
– Lyon’s current points tally (42) is their worst at this stage in the season since 2002-03.
– Lyon have scored 40 goals in the league so far this season, with only PSG and Monaco scoring more.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 10, Bordeaux held Lyon to a 1-1 draw at the Stade de Gerland.