Another weekend, another comprehensive preview from Ligue 1 reporter Robert Bhamber.
Friday: Marseille (1st) vs Nantes (4th) (19:30 GMT)
Marseille have the chance to give themselves a four point lead at the top of the table as they host Nantes at the Stade Velodrome on Friday evening. A win for the home side here would put all the pressure onto PSG come their match against Nice tomorrow, but Marcelo Bielsa knows claiming all three points against Nantes won’t be easy given their form this season.
The visitors sit fourth in the table, mainly due to their rock-solid defence, which is now the best in the league. Their back four has also been the cause of their current nine-league match unbeaten run, which has included draws with Lyon and, just last week, St Etienne. It will be a tough task for them to take anything from their visit to the Stade Velodrome, but Michel Der Zakarian has every reason to be optimistic heading into the match.
– Marseille have won 10 of their last 12 league matches.
– They have scored a league-high 30 goals from their 14 matches so far.
– Nantes have conceded just nine goals in their 14 league matches.
– They have three wins, two draws and one loss on the road in the league this campaign.
– Last season, Nantes emerged from this match 1-0 winners.
Saturday: PSG (2nd) vs Nice (11th) (16:00 GMT)
PSG will be looking to either close the gap on Marseille or overhaul them at the top of the table when they face Nice on Saturday. If Marseille win their match on Friday, then the gap between themselves and PSG will be four points by the time this game kicks off. However, were Marseille to fail to win, PSG will head into this match knowing a victory for them will take them to the league summit. And the champions are certainly in good form, heading into this match on the back of their 3-2 Champions League win over Ajax.
Nice, meanwhile, still haven’t posted a win since their 7-2 thrashing of Guingamp in Week 11. Two losses and a draw in their past three games have seen them slip down to 11th and they look unlikely to take anything from this match at the Parc des Princes. Manager Claude Puel will also be concerned about the fact that his side have only managed one goal in those three games.
– PSG have yet to top Ligue 1 this season.
– They have won their last eight games in all competitions.
– Nice have won just one of their last six league games.
– They have also conceded 19 league goals; only three clubs have let in more this season.
– Last season, PSG won this match 3-1.
Saturday: Lens (20th) vs Metz (12th) (19:00 GMT)
There’s a clash between two promoted sides on Saturday as Lens take on Metz at the Stade de la Licorne. Lens slipped to the bottom of the table last weekend thanks to a 1-0 defeat at Lorient, their fifth loss in six league games. Antoine Kombouare will want to rectify that situation as soon as possible, starting by taking something from this match.
Metz have made a much better return to the top flight, sitting 12th in the league. However, they too are on a poor run of form, losing three of their last four, including a 3-2 loss to PSG last time out. These recent results have seen Albert Cartier’s men slide down the table, from seventh to 12th, and he will be hoping his side can get back to winning ways here.
– Lens have lost nine of their 14 league matches so far, winning three and drawing one.
– This is the second time this season that they have found themselves bottom of the league.
– Metz don’t have a very good league away record, losing five out of seven so far this campaign.
– They have scored just once on the road, conceding 10 in the process.
– Last season, this match was played in Ligue 2, with Lens winning 3-2.
Saturday: Caen (16th) vs Montpellier (9th) (19:00 GMT)
Struggling Caen will be looking to move away from the bottom three as they welcome Montpellier to the Stade Michel d’Ornano. The hosts have won just one of their last 11 league outings and sit 16th in the table, avoiding the relegation zone on goal difference only. Patrice Garande knows his side desperately need to start turning draws into wins if they are to stay up this season, but they face another tough game this weekend against Montpellier.
The visitors have won two of their last three league matches and have now climbed back into the top half of the table after recovering from a recent run of poor form. Rolland Courbis will now be looking to solidify Montpellier’s position in the top ten and he can start to do that by taking all three points from their visit to Caen this weekend.
– Despite winning only three league games all season, Caen have only spent one week in the bottom three.
– They have won just three points from the 18 available in home games this season.
– Meanwhile, Montpellier have won only 5 points from 21 on the road.
– They have scored four and conceded 10 in away league games this campaign.
– The last time this match was played was during the 2011/12 season, in which Montpellier won 3-1.
Saturday: Rennes (7th) vs Monaco (8th) (19:00 GMT)
Rennes face Monaco at the Stade de la Route de Lorient with both sides aiming to make progress in the top half of the table. Rennes come into this match in good form, they are unbeaten in their last six league games, winning four of them. This impressive run has taken them from 15th to 7th in the table, with Rennes just two points outside the top four heading into this weekend.
Monaco are also in decent form, they too are unbeaten in their last six games and head into this match one place and two points behind their hosts. Leonardo Jardim’s men also come into this game on the back of their 1-0 Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen. With both sides playing well at the moment, this should make for a close match.
– Rennes have won 13 points from 18 available in home league games this season.
– They have scored 12 and conceded six in these games.
– Monaco have won three, drawn two and lost two away league games this campaign.
– They have drawn each of their last three league games.
– Last season, Monaco won this match 1-0.
Saturday: Reims (10th) vs Bastia (15th) (19:00 GMT)
Reims will be looking to continue their rise up the table when they welcome Bastia to the Stade Auguste Delaune. The hosts are currently on a six game unbeaten run in the league and have risen from 19th to 10th in the space of those six weeks. They have achieved some impressive results, such as drawing 1-1 with Monaco and beating Lille 2-0, so Jean-Luc Vasseur will certainly be expecting victory against a lowly Bastia side.
The visitors have managed to escape the relegation zone since Claude Makelele’s sacking; a win over Montpellier and a goalless draw last weekend against Lyon have seen Bastia climb to 15th in the league. They will now be looking to build on those results, especially with new manager Ghislain Printant at the helm.
– Reims have won each of their last three home league games.
– They have kept a clean sheet in four of their last six league matches.
– Bastia have won just three league games all season.
– They have one win, one draw and four losses on the road this campaign.
– Last season, Reims won this match 4-2.
Saturday: Toulouse (13th) vs Lorient (17th) (19:00 GMT)
Toulouse face Lorient at the Stadium Municipal on Saturday with both sides out of form at the moment. The hosts have lost four of their last five league outings and have slipped from eighth to 13th in the table as a result. They did manage a 3-0 win over Metz in Week 13 though, something Alain Casanova will take confidence from as he looks to steer his side back to some consistency.
Lorient, meanwhile, ended a four game losing streak last weekend as they emerged 1-0 winners against Lens. This result took them off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone, albeit on goal difference only, but manager Sylvain Ripoll will be hoping his side can build on this and claim another three points this weekend.
– Toulouse have won three, drawn two and lost one at home in the league this season.
– They have scored 10 goals in these games, whilst conceding seven.
– Lorient have won just four league matches this campaign.
– However, two of those came away from home, at Monaco and Bastia.
– Last season, Toulouse won this match 1-0.
Sunday: Bordeaux (5th) vs Lille (14th) (13:00 GMT)
The first of Sunday’s matches sees Bordeaux take on Lille at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. The hosts will be looking to return to winning ways after they fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of league leaders Marseille last weekend. They now have the likes of St Etienne and Rennes breathing down their necks in the table, so Willy Sagnol knows his side will need to take at least at point from this game.
Lille, meanwhile, are in desperately poor form in the league right now, having lost four of their last five outings. This run of results has seen them crash down the table, falling from third to 14th in a matter of weeks. They also head into this match just 72 hours after a trip to Russia in the Europa League, where they drew 1-1 with FC Krasnodar.
– Bordeaux have not dropped lower than seventh all season.
– They have conceded 18 league goals so far, more than any other club in the top nine.
– Lille have failed to win any of their last nine matches in all competitions.
– They also have the worst attack in Ligue 1 right now, having scored just nine goals in 13 games.
– Last season, Bordeaux won this match 1-0.
Sunday: Evian (18th) vs Guingamp (19th) (16:00 GMT)
Two sides in the bottom three clash at the Parc des Sports as Evian take on Guingamp. The hosts ended a three game losing streak last time out as they emerged 1-0 winners against Nice. Manager Pascal Dupraz will be hoping his side can build on that as they look to move out of the relegation zone; although they do have a game in hand due to their match against Lille being postponed.
Guingamp, meanwhile, have lost their last two outings, falling back into the bottom three after temporarily climbing to 16th with a 1-0 win over Bastia in Week 12. Jocelyn Gourvennec has seen his side win just four times in the league this season, a figure he knows will have to improve if he is to keep Guingamp in the top-flight for another season. A match against a fellow struggler means that this is a must-win for both teams.
– Evian have spent 10 weeks of the season in the relegation zone, eight of which they were bottom.
– 10 of their 13 points this season have come from home games.
– Guingamp have also spent 10 weeks in the bottom three, three of which were spent at the bottom.
– Half of their points this season have come in away games, thanks to wins at Lens and Lille.
– Last season, Guingamp won this match 2-1.
Sunday: St Etienne (6th) vs Lyon (3rd) (20:00 GMT)
The last match of the weekend sees St Etienne take on their Rhone Valley rivals Lyon at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. The hosts will be hoping to get back to winning ways in the league, after a tough run of fixtures has seen them draw their last three matches, against Lille, Monaco and Nantes respectively. Christophe Galtier will also be concerned about his side’s lack of goals, having scored just twice in these three games.
Lyon, on the other hand, have been in great form recently; they are unbeaten in their last 10 league outings, winning seven of them. This momentum was halted slightly as Bastia held them to a goalless draw last weekend, but Hubert Fournier will head into this match demanding nothing less than a victory, especially as Lyon need all three points to stay within touching distance of frontrunners Marseille and PSG.
– St Etienne have yet to score in the first 30 minutes of a Ligue 1 fixture this season.
– They are unbeaten in home league games this season in which they have taken the lead.
– Lyon have scored seven and conceded seven on the road this campaign.
– Only Nantes (4) have conceded fewer away goals in the league than Lyon.
– Last season, Lyon won this match 2-1.