Robert Bhamber gives his weekly comprehensive preview to this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Friday: Lorient (12th) vs PSG (1st) (19:30 GMT)
The action kicks off on Friday evening as Lorient welcome league leaders PSG to the Stade du Moustoir. Christian Gourcuff led his team on a much-needed seven game undefeated streak earlier in the season to move Lorient away from the relegation zone, but inconsistency has crept back into the side in recent weeks, as the hosts have won only one of their last eight league games.
PSG however, are anything but inconsistent. The capital side, who have won all of their last five Ligue 1 matches and are unbeaten in their last 13, will be looking to move 11 points clear at the top of the table, as second-placed Monaco don’t play until Sunday.
– Lorient have won only one of their last four home league games.
– However, they don’t often lose at the Stade du Moustoir; only Marseille and Toulouse have emerged victorious there in the league this season.
– PSG have the best away record in the league this season, winning nine, drawing four and losing just once.
– PSG have kept 15 clean sheets in the league this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, PSG comfortably won 4-0 at the Parc des Princes.
Saturday: Marseille (6th) vs Rennes (16th) (16:00 GMT)
Marseille take on Rennes at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday with the home side looking to save their hopes of qualifying for European football next season. A recent run of poor results have seen Marseille slip down to sixth in the table and nine points behind Lille in third. Just one point from their last three league games has left the home side in danger of missing out on European qualification completely.
Rennes are also in bad form, losing their last three league games and in turn falling to 16th in the table, just three points above the relegation zone. Philippe Montanier will therefore be hoping his team can find some form to end the season with, starting with what would be a surprise victory away at Marseille.
– Marseille have won just one of their last five league matches.
– Marseille are one of only two clubs in Ligue 1 this season not to have a player sent off, the other club being Monaco.
– Rennes have yet to win an away league game this season in which they have conceded first.
– They have won only one of their last six league matches.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, these two teams drew 1-1 at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.
Saturday: Nantes (15th) vs Montpellier (14th) (19:00 GMT)
Nantes host Montpellier at the Stade de la Beaujoire with both teams looking to move themselves further clear of the relegation zone. Nantes sit five points above the bottom three, but could do with a couple more wins this season just to ensure that they won’t be dragged into a relegation battle in the final few weeks of league action.
Montpellier find themselves in almost the exact same position, as they are only one place and one point better off than their opponents in the league this weekend. Rolland Courbis has seen his team near the bottom of the league for the majority of the season and he will be hoping his side don’t slip any further down the table for the rest of this campaign. A win away at Nantes will go some way in ensuring that doesn’t happen.
– Nantes haven’t won any of their last nine league matches, their last victory came in Week 20 over Lorient.
– In that time, they have fallen from eighth in the table to 15th.
– Montpellier have lost only one of their last 11 league games.
– However, they have won only two away matches in the league this season, at Sochaux and Reims.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, these two teams played out a 1-1 draw at the Stade de la Mosson.
Saturday: Bastia (11th) vs Reims (7th) (19:00 GMT)
Bastia and Reims meet at the Stade Armand Cesari with Reims looking to boost their hopes of qualifying for European football next season. The hosts are the definition of a mid-table team this season, sitting 11th in Ligue 1 with no threat of relegation and no real chance of qualifying for Europe either. However, Frederic Hantz will no doubt be looking for his team to finish the season strongly and end the campaign in the top half of the table.
Reims meanwhile, do still have something to aim for in the league, as they look to qualify for the Europa League next season. The visitors are five points behind St Etienne in fourth heading into the weekend, but if they were to put a few wins together in the upcoming weeks, then Hubert Fournier’s men could just pull off one the biggest surprises this season.
– Bastia haven’t won any of their last five league matches.
– They have also lost their last three home league games, failing to score in the process.
– Reims have won three of their last six league games.
– However, they have lost their last two away matches in the league, losing 3-2 at both Monaco and Toulouse.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, Reims beat Bastia 4-2 at the Stade Auguste Delaune.
Saturday: Bordeaux (9th) vs Nice (10th) (19:00 GMT)
Bordeaux face Nice at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in a mid-table clash on Saturday. Both teams are safe from relegation and sit too far away from the top four to have any ambitions of qualifying for Europe this season, so there will just be pride at stake in this match. Bordeaux’s form in the league has been inconsistent of late and last week fell to ninth in the table, the lowest they have been since Week 14. A win over Nice will go some way in stabilising their position in the top half of Ligue 1.
Nice meanwhile, have turned around their form in the past couple of weeks. Claude Puel has seen his team end a four game winless streak to emerge victorious in their last two matches against Marseille and Bastia, rising from 16th to 10th in the process. A win over Bordeaux will see Nice move to within one point of the home side in the table.
– Bordeaux haven’t won in their last three league matches, losing two and drawing the other.
– They have a decent record at home in the league this season, winning nine, drawing one and losing five.
– Nice will be looking to win three league games in a row for the first time this season.
– However, they have won only two away games in the league so far this season, at Lille and Marseille.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, Bordeaux won 2-1 at the Allianz Riviera.
Saturday: Valenciennes (18th) vs Ajaccio (20th) (19:00 GMT)
Valenciennes host Ajaccio at the Stade du Hainaut in a crucial match between two of the sides in the bottom three. The home team have the most hope of escaping relegation, as they are just two points behind Evian in 17th position. Therefore, a match against fellow strugglers Ajaccio is one that they will be looking to take advantage of.
Ajaccio meanwhile, are rock-bottom of Ligue 1 with just 15 points, which is coincidently the same amount of points they are from safety. It does therefore seem like a certainty that they will be relegated, it is now just a matter of when rather than if. However, they could postpone the inevitable for a while and quite possibly drag Valenciennes down with them if they were to win this weekend.
– Valenciennes have won their last two league games, at home to Rennes and away at Evian.
– They haven’t moved from 18th position since Week 12.
– Ajaccio have won only two league games all season, against Lyon and Rennes.
– The bottom-side are yet to win an away league game this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, Valenciennes won 3-1 at the Stade Francois Coty.
Saturday: Toulouse (8th) vs Evian (17th) (19:00 GMT)
Toulouse welcome struggling Evian to the Stadium Municipal as they look to maintain their faint hopes of European qualification this season. The home side are six points behind St Etienne in fourth with nine games to go. However, they are on a god run of form at the moment, winning their last three league games, so Alain Casanova’s side cannot be completely written off just yet.
Evian also need to claim all three points from this match, as they look to move themselves away from the relegation zone. Last week’s loss at home to Valenciennes was extremely damaging to Pascal Dupraz’s men, as they were dragged to within two points of the bottom three. If Valenciennes win this weekend and Evian were to lose, then Dupraz will find his team in the relegation zone for only the second time this campaign.
– Toulouse have won four of their last five league matches.
– However, their home form isn’t particularly impressive; they have won just four league matches at the Stadium Municipal this season.
– Evian have won just two of their last 13 league matches.
– The only previous time Evian were in the relegation zone this season was when they fell to 19th in Week 3. They stayed in the bottom three for just one week.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, Evian won 2-1 at the Parc des Sports.
Sunday: St Etienne (4th) vs Sochaux (19th) (13:00 GMT)
St Etienne host Sochaux at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in a match that holds significance at both ends of the table. St Etienne have lost their last two league matches, allowing Lille to move five points clear in the race for the third and final Champions League spot in Ligue 1. Christophe Galtier will be desperate for his side to get back on track and what better place to start than with a home match against a team in the bottom three.
Sochaux though, are in need of the three points themselves, as they sit second-from-bottom in Ligue 1, five points away from safety. They are on a decent run of form at the moment, losing just one of their last five league games, but Herve Renard will know that very few expect them to take anything away from the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard this weekend.
– St Etienne have conceded just 26 goals in the league this season, a record only bettered by the three teams who sit above them.
– They are unbeaten in their last seven league home games, winning six and drawing one.
– Sochaux have yet to win an away league game this season.
– They dropped in the relegation zone in Week 3 and haven’t been out since.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, Sochaux managed to hold St Etienne to a 0-0 draw at the Stade Auguste Bonal.
Sunday: Guingamp (13th) vs Lyon (5th) (16:00 GMT)
Lyon travel to the Stade du Roudourou to take on Guingamp on Sunday as they look to keep the pressure on St Etienne and Lille in the race for the final Champions League spot in Ligue 1.The hosts are relatively comfortable in mid-table, sitting seven points above the relegation zone. A top-half finish will now be the aspiration for manager Jocelyn Gourvennec.
Lyon though, remain firmly in the hunt for some sort of European football next season; heading into the weekend they are three points behind St Etienne in fourth and eight behind Lille in third. The visitors, who have been drawn against Juventus in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, lost 3-2 at home last week to Monaco so Remi Garde will be hoping his men get back to winning ways in the league this weekend.
– Guingamp have won three of their last four league matches, rising from 16th to 13th in the process.
– However, they did go through a ten game winless streak between Weeks 16 and 26.
– Lyon have lost just two of their last 14 league matches, away at Rennes and last week, at home to Monaco.
– Lyon have yet to lose an away league game this season in which they have scored first.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, Lyon won 2-0 at the Stade de Gerland.
Sunday: Monaco (2nd) vs Lille (3rd) (20:00 GMT)
The final game of Week 30 is without doubt the biggest of the weekend, as Monaco take on third-placed Lille at the Stade Louis II. Monaco are currently eight points behind PSG at the top of the table, but that gap may have stretched to 11 by the time this match kicks-off. The pressure then, is firmly placed on the shoulders of Monaco and Claudio Ranieri. If they are to have any chance of overhauling PSG this season, then they surely cannot afford any slip-ups for the remainder of the campaign.
Lille meanwhile, are in a fight of their own. They are nine points behind Monaco in the table so an automatic Champions League qualification spot looks to be beyond them. However, they face fierce competition in the race for the final Champions League place from the likes of St Etienne, Lyon and Marseille. Rene Girard knows that winning away at Monaco, although a tough task, may just prove to be a vital result come the end of the season.
– Monaco have not been lower than fourth in the table this season.
– They have lost just one of their last 10 league games, away at St Etienne in Week 27.
– Lille are unbeaten in their last six league games, winning three and drawing three.
– Lille have won every away league game this season in which they have scored first.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 12, Lille won 2-0 at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.