Ligue 1 Preview (Week 31)

Robert Bhamber presents you with the most complete Ligue 1 guide you will find for this weekend’s fixtures: 

Friday: Nice (11th) vs PSG (1st) (19:30 GMT)

The action starts on Friday evening as Nice host league leaders PSG at the Allianz Riviera. Nice are sitting comfortably in mid-table with a 10 point gap between themselves and the relegation zone and if they were to pull off an unlikely victory against the champions, they would move to within three points of Marseille in sixth. However, scoring goals has been a bit of a problem for Nice this season; they have scored just 27 times in the league so far this season and to put that into perspective, PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 25 by himself. 

Ibrahimovic’s goals have given PSG a 10 point lead at the top of the table and with just eight games left, it seems inevitable now that the capital club will retain their crown. However, Laurent Blanc’s men still can’t afford to take Nice lightly, as they look to maintain their momentum heading into Wednesday’s Champions League first-leg clash with Chelsea.

– Only second-from-bottom Sochaux have scored fewer goals in the league this season (26) than Nice.

– However, they are unbeaten in their last three league games, winning two and drawing the other.

– PSG have won their last six league matches and are on a club record eight game winning streak in all competitions.

– They have also kept clean sheets in each of their last four league games.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, PSG won 3-1 at the Parc des Princes.


Saturday: Sochaux (19th) vs Marseille (6th) (16:00 GMT) 

Sochaux will be looking to drag themselves closer to safety as they take on an out-of-form Marseille side at the Stade Auguste Bonal on Saturday. Sochaux’s home form has been remarkable of late; they have won their last four league home games without conceding a single goal in the process. Herve Renard’s team head into the weekend six points away from Evian in 17th position and their home form may just be enough to save them from relegation.

Marseille meanwhile, have fallen off the pace completely in the last few weeks. Lille are now 10 points away in third and even fourth spot now looks tough for Jose Anigo’s men, as they trail St Etienne by seven. As well as dropping out of the race for a Champions League position, Marseille now have the likes of Reims, Toulouse and Bordeaux breathing down their neck and another loss could see them drop to as low as ninth in Ligue 1.

– Sochaux are the league’s lowest scorers so far this season, with just 26 goals.

– All six of their league wins this season have come at home.

– Marseille have not been lower than sixth in the league since the season started.

– Marseille haven’t won any of their last four league games, losing three and drawing one.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Marseille won 2-1 at the Stade Velodrome.


Saturday: Nantes (13th) vs Bordeaux (9th) (19:00 GMT)

Nantes play host to a Bordeaux side who still maintain faint hopes of European qualification this season. The home side have been on a bad run of form of late, slipping from eighth in the table to as low down as 15th. Last week’s 2-1 home win against Montpellier saw Michel Der Zakarian’s side move back up to a respectable 13th position, where they are eight points away from the relegation zone.

Bordeaux meanwhile, are in ninth and are six points away from Lyon in fifth, which is a Europa League qualification spot. Like Nantes, Bordeaux have also been in inconsistent form recently, which has seen Francis Gillot’s men fall from seventh in the table and lose ground on the other teams fighting to qualify for European competition next season. He will be hoping his side can get back to winning ways at the Stade de la Beaujoire this weekend.

– Nantes have only won one of their last 10 league games.

– They have won every league home game this season in which they have scored the first goal.

– Bordeaux have recorded two wins, two draws and four losses from their last eight league games.

– They haven’t won any of their last six away league games.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Nantes won 3-0 away at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.


Saturday: Montpellier (15th) vs Valenciennes (18th) (19:00 GMT)

Montpellier will be looking to move further away from the relegation zone as they face a Valenciennes side who are looking to get out of it. The hosts head into the weekend with 34 points, which is six more than their opponents have. A victory over Valenciennes then, will move the home side to a much more comfortable nine points above the bottom three and will ease any fears of relegation that Rolland Courbis may have.

For Valenciennes, this fixture provides the perfect opportunity for them to pull themselves closer to safety and also to drag Montpellier down into the relegation battle as well. The visitors are only three points away from Evian in 17th, so Ariel Jacobs’ side are not dead and buried just yet and a win this weekend could make the relegation battle very interesting heading into the final few weeks of the season.

– Montpellier haven’t won any of their last four league games.

– However, they are undefeated in their last four league matches at the Stade de la Mosson.

– Valenciennes have won two of their last three league games.

– However, they have only won three away league games all season, away at Ajaccio, Monaco and Evian.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Valenciennes held Montpellier to a 1-1 draw at the Stade du Hainaut.


Saturday: Evian (17th) vs Monaco (2nd) (19:00 GMT)

Evian face a tough challenge this weekend as they welcome second-placed Monaco to the Parc des Sports. The home side sit just three points clear of the relegation zone so Pascal Dupraz’s side are in need of all three points, however getting a draw would be seen as an achievement against a mega-rich Monaco team. 

Due to a tough run of fixtures, Monaco have fallen 10 points behind league leaders PSG in the past couple of weeks and their title hopes now seem all but over. However, Claudio Ranieri will not allow his players to ease up and they will be expected to take all three points against a side struggling at the bottom end of the table.

– Evian have won just two of their last 14 league games.

– Despite their lowly position in the league, Evian have spent just one week in the relegation zone this season. That was after Week 3’s 2-1 loss to Rennes, when they slipped to 19th.

– Monaco have lost only one of their last 11 league games.

– They have also only lost twice on the road in the league this season, at Lille and St Etienne.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Evian surprisingly held Monaco to a 1-1 at the Stade Louis II.


Saturday: Ajaccio (20th) vs Toulouse (8th) (19:00 GMT)

Bottom-of-the-league Ajaccio welcome Toulouse to the Stade Francois Coty with the visitors still in the hunt for a Europa League qualification spot. It now seems almost certain that Ajaccio will be relegated come May, as they are 13 points away from safety with only eight games left to play this season. However, Christian Bracconi’s side did manage to get a victory last week, winning 3-2 away at fellow strugglers Valenciennes. 

For Toulouse, this game is a chance to move closer to Lyon in fifth. Heading into the weekend, the visitors are five points behind Lyon, so a good run of form from Toulouse could put them right in contention for European qualification in the last few weeks of the season and Alain Casanova’s side will be expected to pick up all three points from their visit to the Stade Francois Coty this weekend.

– Ajaccio have won just three league games all season.

– They have been in the relegation zone since Week 11 and bottom of the table since Week 19.

– Toulouse are unbeaten in their last four league games, winning three and drawing one.

– They have also won their last three league away games.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Toulouse and Ajaccio played out a 1-1 draw at the Stadium Municipal.


Saturday: Reims (7th) vs Lorient (12th) (19:00 GMT)

Reims will be looking to close the gap on fifth placed Lyon as they aim to secure a place in the Europa League next season. They welcome a mid-table Lorient side to the Stade Auguste Delaune on Saturday evening. The home side are just five points away from Lyon, so a good run of form in the last few weeks of the season may well see Hubert Fournier’s side surprise everyone by qualifying for European competition.

Lorient, however, have been on a terrible run of form, falling out of the top half of Ligue 1 to 12th in the last few weeks. They may not be in any significant danger of being sucked into the relegation battle, they are eight points clear of the bottom three, but Christian Gourcuff will definitely be concerned about his team’s lack of results recently.

– Reims are on a three game winless streak after losing to Toulouse and Bastia and drawing 1-1 at home to Marseille.

– They are yet to win a league home game this season in which they have conceded the first goal.

– Lorient have won just one of their last nine league fixtures; that win was the surprise victory at home to St Etienne.

– They have lost all 11 league away games this season in which they have conceded first.

– In the revere fixture in Week 13, these two teams played out a 0-0 stalemate at the Stade du Moustoir.


Sunday: Rennes (16th) vs Bastia (10th) (13:00 GMT) 

Sunday’s action starts at the Stade de la Route de Lorient, where Rennes take on Bastia. Rennes will be looking to carry their momentum from Thursday’s 2-0 Coupe de France win over Lille into the league, where they could do with a couple more wins this season in order to put any relegation fears to bed once and for all. Philippe Montanier’s men are currently six points clear of the bottom three and ended a three game losing streak in the league last week by winning away at Marseille.

Bastia are sitting comfortably in mid-table and with no threat of relegation, Frederic Hantz will be looking for his team to finish the season as high up the league table as possible, with Marseille only four points away in sixth. Any improvement on last season’s 12th place finish will be seen as a success for the Corsican club.

– Rennes’ current position of 16th is the lowest they have been in the league all season.

– Rennes have lost every league home game this season in which they have conceded the first goal.

– Bastia have won only one of their last six league games, which was last week at home to Reims.

– They have taken just 11 points from a possible 45 in away games this season.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Bastia won 1-0 at the Stade Armand Cesari.


Sunday: Lille (3rd) vs Guingamp (14th) (16:00 GMT)

Lille will be looking to maintain their third place position in the table as they face Guingamp at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. The home side may be in good form in the league, but a surprise 2-0 defeat to Rennes in mid-week saw Lille crash out of the Coupe de France at the quarter-final stage. Rene Girard will be hoping that result proves to be an anomaly and that his team revert back to winning ways on Sunday.

Opponents Guingamp are 14th in the table, seven points above the relegation zone. Manager Jocelyn Gourvennec will be hoping then that his team can secure a couple more wins before the end of the season, to put an end to any lingering fears of being dragged into the relegation zone in the final few weeks. However, winning at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy is never an easy task, only Nice and Reims have come away with all three points in the league this season.

– Lille are unbeaten in their last seven league games, winning three and drawing four.

– They haven’t dropped below third place in the table since Week 9.

– Guingamp are extremely inconsistent; their last eight league games have seen three wins and five losses.

– However, they did advance to the semi-finals of the Coupe de France by beating fourth division side Cannes 2-0 in midweek.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Guingamp held Lille to a 0-0 draw at the Stade du Roudourou.


Sunday: Lyon (5th) vs St Etienne (4th) (20:00 GMT) 

Lyon face St Etienne in a Rhône derby that could have crucial implications on the battle for European qualification in Ligue 1. Lyon head into the game on 48 points, just three points behind their opponents. The home side have risen up the table recently, going from 11th to fifth in the space of 11 weeks. Remi Garde will be hoping to overtake St Etienne come the end of the season and the Rhône derby this weekend is a chance to take vital points away from Les Verts. 

St Etienne though, will be doing everything in their power to win the derby and put some breathing space between themselves and Lyon. The visitors know a win will move them six points clear of the hosts as well as moving them closer to Lille, who hold the final Champions League qualification spot. St Etienne will also be looking to take the opportunity to finish above Lyon in the league for the first time since 1992-93. 

– Lyon have lost just two of their last 15 league games.

– They have taken 23 points from 11 games in 2014; only PSG (29 points) have had a better record since the start of the year.

– St Etienne have lost only three of their last 14 league games.

– St Etienne have won every away league game this season in which they have scored first, but lost every away league game in which they have conceded first.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 13, Lyon won 2-1 away at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

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