Welcome to a new weekly feature at Football News, our comprehensive preview of this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Friday: Monaco (2nd) vs Reims (7th) (19:30 GMT)
Monaco kick off Week 26 with a tie against Reims at the Stade Louis II. The hosts can close the gap at the top of the table to just two points with a win, as title rivals PSG don’t play until Sunday. Claudio Ranieri’s men are in good form right now, they are unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions, proving that they can keep their title aspirations alive even without star man Radamel Falcao.
Reims are also enjoying a good season and can realistically aim to finish in a European spot come May. They may sit seventh in the table, but they are only six points away from Lille in third, the final Champions League position.
– Monaco haven’t been lower than fourth place since the season started.
– Only Monaco and PSG have a better away league record this season than Reims.
– These two clubs have not met in Ligue 1 at the Stade Louis II since August 1978, when the hosts won 3-0.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, these two teams played out a 1-1 draw.
– Reims managed to knock Monaco out of the Coupe De La Ligue in the Round of 32 this season.
Saturday: Marseille (5th) vs Lorient (11th) (16:00 GMT)
Marseille will be looking to gain all three points as they welcome mid-table Lorient to the Stade Velodrome. Marseille are one of a number of teams in Ligue 1 who are aiming to finish third and heading into the weekend, the hosts are five points away from that spot. They are also unbeaten in their last four league games.
Lorient sit comfortably in mid-table, with no threat of relegation or realistic ambitions of Europe. Any hopes of a surprise win for the visitors could rest in the hands of Vincent Aboubakar; he has scored 12 league goals this season, one of Ligue 1’s best, behind only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette.
– Marseille have not been lower than sixth place since the season started.
– Steve Mandanda is the only Marseille player to start every league game so far this season.
– Alain Traore is suspended for Lorient as he was sent off in last week’s 3-1 loss to Toulouse.
– Lorient have lost just two of their last 12 league matches.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, Marseille won 2-0 at Lorient.
Saturday: Valenciennes (18th) vs Sochaux (19th) (19:00 GMT)
These two teams meet in a relegation six-pointer at the Stade du Hainaut. Valenciennes suffered a 3-0 loss away to PSG last week, but will be hoping to gain a vital three points against a team close to them in the standings. Heading into Week 26, Valenciennes are three points adrift from safety.
Sochaux meanwhile, have 18 points, three behind hosts Valenciennes and six adrift from safety. However, they did manage a morale boosting win over Guingamp last week, thanks to a late goal from Zambian defender Stoppila Sunzu.
– Valenciennes have taken 13 out of a possible 36 points at home this season.
– Valenciennes top scorer this season is Gregory Pujol, with four league goals.
– Sochaux have yet to win away in Ligue 1 this season.
– Sochaux’s top scorer this season is Cedric Bakambu, with six goals.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, Sochaux won 2-0 at home.
Saturday: Bastia (8th) vs St Etienne (4th) (19:00 GMT)
Bastia welcome St Etienne to the Stade Armand Cesari in a match where both teams have European ambitions. Bastia head into the weekend six points behind the visitors in fourth, so a win would be crucial to their chances of playing in the Europa League next season.
St Etienne however, will be looking to move further away from the chasing pack and closer to Lille in the third and final Champions League qualification spot. They are currently just three points away from that position.
– Bastia have a good league home record this season, winning eight out of 12 matches so far.
– Bastia’s top scorer this season is midfielder Romain Hamouma, with seven league goals.
– St Etienne have won every time they have scored first in an away league match this season.
– However, they have lost every time they have conceded first in an away league match this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, these two teams played out a 2-2 draw at St Etienne.
Saturday: Guingamp (16th) vs Nice (13th) (19:00 GMT)
Guingamp will be looking to move further clear of the relegation zone as they take on Nice at the Stade Municipal du Roudourou. The hosts are five points clear of the bottom three coming into the weekend and know that this is a winnable match for them.
Nice sit comfortably in mid-table with 31 points and are coming into this match on the back of a 0-0 draw with Nantes last week.
– Guingamp have lost their last three league matches.
– Guingamp haven’t won a league game at all since Week 15, where they defeated Nantes 1-0 at home.
– Nice have only taken 5 out of a possible 36 points away from home this season.
– Nice have lost every away game this season in which they have conceded first.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, Nice won 1-0 at the Allianz Riviera.
Saturday: Bordeaux (9th) vs Evian (17th) (19:00 GMT)
Bordeaux face struggling Evian at the Stade Chaban-Delmas, as they look to gain ground on the pack of teams above them chasing European places. The hosts head into the weekend on 34 points, but know a good run of form could lift them a few places in the table and perhaps to a European position.
Evian, however, are only three points above the relegation zone and will be looking to gain at least a point in an attempt to move further clear of danger. Last week, they managed a very respectable 2-2 draw at home against Lille.
– Bordeaux have lost only one of their last four home league games.
– Bordeaux’s top scorer is Malian striker Cheick Diabate, with seven league goals.
– Evian have taken only 9 out of a possible 36 points away from home this season.
– Evian are without a league win since Week 16, when they shockingly defeated PSG 2-0 at home.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, these two teams played out a 1-1 draw at Evian.
Saturday: Montpellier (14th) vs Ajaccio (20th) (19:00 GMT)
Montpellier face bottom-side Ajaccio as they look to put any relegation fears of their own to bed. The hosts are eight points above the relegation zone heading into the weekend and their ambition for the rest of the season should be to secure a top half finish.
Ajaccio though, are four points adrift at the bottom of Ligue 1 and are a hefty 10 points away from safety. If they are to escape relegation this season, then they did to start picking up a few victories and a trip to a mid-table club could be a good place to start.
– Montpellier are unbeaten at home this season, when they score the first goal.
– Montpellier are currently on a seven game unbeaten run in the league.
– Ajaccio are yet to win away from home in the league this season.
– Ajaccio have won only two league games so far this season, against Lyon and Rennes at home.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, these two teams played out a 1-1 draw at Ajaccio.
Sunday: Toulouse (10th) v PSG (1st) (13:00 GMT)
Toulouse kick of Sunday’s action as they host league leaders PSG. The home side sit safe in mid-table with 33 points and will be aiming to finish the season remaining in the top half.
PSG though, are five points clear at the helm of Ligue 1 heading into the weekend, but they know that Monaco could have cut that lead to just two points before this match even starts. Laurent Blanc’s side come into the match on the back of a very impressive midweek 4-0 away win against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.
– Toulouse have managed to gain 14 points after conceding the first goal this season; the highest amount in Ligue 1.
– Toulouse have only won one of their last five league games coming into this match.
– PSG have lost just one of their last 36 Ligue 1 matches, only Evian have beaten them in that time.
– PSG have the league’s best attack, scoring 58 goals so far this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, PSG won 2-0 at the Parc des Princes.
Sunday: Nantes (12th) vs Rennes (15th) (16:00 GMT)
The fiercely contested Derby Breton makes a return this weekend. Nantes host Rennes in a battle between two clubs who are relatively safe in mid-table. Nantes have 31 points, 10 points clear of the relegation zone, but they will be looking to finish in the top half come the end of the season. Their momentum has however slowed since the turn of the year and a moral boosting win against their bitter rivals on Sunday could reignite their season.
Rennes head into the weekend with 28 points, seven clear of the relegation zone. Philippe Montanier will be looking for a victory in order for his team to move even further clear and put any relegation fears to bed once and for all.
– Nantes are unbeaten at home this season when they have scored the first goal.
– Nantes haven’t won in their last five league matches.
– Rennes have only taken 9 out of a possible 36 points in away league games this season.
– Rennes have won only one of their last nine league games, which was a 2-0 victory over Lyon at home.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, Nantes won 3-1 away to Rennes.
Sunday: Lille (3rd) vs Lyon (6th) (20:00 GMT)
Lille welcome Lyon to the Stade Pierre Mauroy on Sunday in a match that could have big implications near the top of the table. Lille are currently three points clear in third and will be looking to pull away from their rivals with a victory here.
Lyon are one of those teams in with a chance of overhauling Lille and beating them at their own ground would be a big moment in the race for Europe. Heading into the weekend, Lyon are five points behind the hosts in third. Lyon did however have to play on Thursday in the Europa League, where they played out a 0-0 draw at FC Chornomorets Odesa in Ukraine.
– Lille have lost only two of their 12 home league games this season.
– However, they have lost three out of their last six league games.
– Lyon have won five out of their last six Ligue 1 matches.
– Lyon’s top scorer this season is Alexandre Lacazette, with 13 league goals.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 8, these two teams played out a 0-0 stalemate at the Stade de Gerland.