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Ligue 1 Preview (Week 31)

Robert Bhamber gives his weekly comprehensive preview to this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:

 

Friday: Marseille (6th) vs Ajaccio (20th) (19:30 GMT)

Marseille will look to end their awful run of form of late as they host bottom-of-the-league Ajaccio at the Stade Velodrome on Friday evening. The home side have seen their European ambitions fade away over the past few weeks, with third placed Lille now 12 points ahead and fourth placed St Etienne nine clear as well. Marseille will at least hope to end the season with a couple of wins and what better place to start than at home against a team almost certain of relegation.

Ajaccio fans know that the 15 point gap between themselves and safety is now practically insurmountable, but like Marseille, they will at least want to end the season on a high with some decent results in the last few weeks of the campaign. Despite their league position, Christian Bracconi’s men have only lost one of their last four league games, which is their best run of form in Ligue 1 this season.

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

– Marseille haven’t dropped below sixth in the table all season.

– Ajaccio have conceded 57 goals in the league this season, more than any other club.

– They won their first away league game of the season two weeks ago; 3-2 against Valenciennes.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, Marseille won 3-1 at the Stade Francois Coty.

 

Saturday: PSG (1st) vs Reims (7th) (16:00 GMT)

Saturday’s action begins with League leaders PSG taking on Reims at the Parc des Princes. The hosts are heading into the weekend in high spirits, after overcoming Premier League side Chelsea 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie. However, they will have to do without leading scorer and star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the next few weeks, as he picked up a muscular problem in midweek. PSG, though, are more than capable of wrapping up the league title without him.

Visitors Reims face an uphill battle to get anything from this match, considering PSG’s remarkable home record in the league this season. Their European hopes now look all but over as St Etienne’s good form in recent weeks has moved them 10 points in front, but finishing as high as fifth in the table remains a realistic target for Hubert Fournier’s men.

 – PSG are unbeaten in the league at the Parc des Princes this season.

– They have won their last seven league games.

– Reims have lost their last three league away matches.

– The visitors have won only one of their last six league games, losing three and drawing the other two.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, PSG won 3-0 at the Stade Auguste Delaune.

 

Saturday: Toulouse (8th) vs Lille (3rd) (19:00 GMT)

Toulouse welcome Champions League chasing Lille at the Stadium Municipal on Saturday evening. The home side look unlikely to qualify for Europe now, as they are ten points behind St Etienne in fourth and 13 away from their opponents this weekend. The aim now for Alain Casanova’s team will be to end the season as strong as possible and maybe climb up a couple more places in the table.

The target for Lille remains qualifying for Europe’s premier competition next season. They are three points ahead of St Etienne in fourth, who now look to be their only real challengers for the final Champions League spot. Interestingly, Monaco’s defeat last week has closed the gap between Lille and second place to just six points, so a shock runners up spot in the league may not be out of the question if Lille were to keep up their good form.

– Toulouse have yet to lose a home league game this season in which they have scored first.

– They are also unbeaten in their last five league matches, winning three and drawing two.

– Lille have won every away league game this season in which they have scored first.

– They are unbeaten in their last eight league games, winning four and drawing four.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, Lille won 1-0 at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

 

Saturday: Guingamp (16th) vs Montpellier (15th) (19:00 GMT)

Guingamp host Montpellier at the Stade du Roudourou with both teams heading into the weekend on the same amount of points. Both teams sit six points above the bottom three with 35 points and both managers will want their team to ease any fears of relegation by getting all three points this weekend.

The bottom half of the Ligue 1 table is extremely close; a couple of wins on the trot for either of these teams may see them move as high as tenth in the table, but a couple of losses may see them sucked into a relegation battle during the final few weeks of the season. Therefore, a win this weekend is crucial for both teams.

– Guingamp have lost three of their last four league games.

– They have also only won once in their last eight home games in the league.

– Montpellier have only won once in their last eight league games, both home and away.

– The visitors are yet to win an away league match this season in which they have conceded first.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, these two teams played out a 1-1 draw at the Stade de la Mosson.

 

Saturday: Bastia (10th) vs Sochaux (19th) (19:00 GMT)

Bastia go head-to-head with second-from-bottom Sochaux at the Stade Armand Cesari. The home side are sitting comfortably in mid-table with 40 points and have no fear of relegation or hopes of European qualification. Frederic Hantz will however, be hoping his side end their bad run of form of late with a home win against a team stuck in the bottom three.

Sochaux though, will also be looking at this game as one they can win. The visitors will be hoping to capitalise on the home side’s bad run of form of late and also the fact that they don’t have much to play for, as Herve Renard’s men look to close the eight point gap between themselves and Evian in 17th.

– Bastia have won just one of their last seven league games, losing five and drawing one.

– However, they haven’t fallen below 12th in the league all season.

– Three of Sochaux’s five league wins this season have come in the past seven weeks.

– They have yet to win an away league game this season.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, the game finished 1-1 at the Stade Auguste Bonal.

 

Saturday: Bordeaux (9th) vs Rennes (12th) (19:00 GMT)

Bordeaux take on Rennes at the Stade Cheban-Delmas in a mid-table clash. The hosts are 11 points behind fourth placed St Etienne, effectively ending any European ambitions the fans may have had. Francis Gillot will now be hoping his team can end their current run of bad form and start to climb up the table to finish as high as possible come the end of the campaign.

Like Bordeaux, Rennes also have very little to play for in the last few weeks of this Ligue 1 campaign. They are a comfortable eight points clear of the bottom three, so with relegation no longer an issue, Philippe Montanier will be looking for his side to continue their winning run and finish the season in style.

– Bordeaux haven’t won any of their last five league matches, losing two and drawing three.

– However, they have only lost one of their last five league home games.

– Rennes have ended a three game losing streak by winning their last two league outings.

– They haven’t won three league games in a row previously this season.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, Rennes held Bordeaux to a 1-1 at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.

 

Saturday: Lorient (13th) vs Evian (17th) (19:00 GMT)

Lorient welcome struggling Evian to the Stade du Moustoir with the visitors looking to move further clear of the relegation zone. The hosts are eight points clear of the bottom three and can now start to plan for next season with some degree of certainty. However, Christian Gourcuff will be hoping his team pick up form during the final few weeks of the season.

Evian though, are still very much in the relegation fight. They are five points ahead of Valenciennes and will view this match as one they can win, considering Lorient’s mid-table status and their current run of bad form. Stretching the gap to eight points will give Pascal Dupraz’s side some breathing space for the first time in a while this season.

– Lorient have won just one of their last 10 league games, losing five and drawing four.

– However, they have only lost three times at home in the league this season, to Marseille, Toulouse and PSG.

– Despite their league position, Evian have only lost one of their last five league games, winning three of them.

– They haven’t moved from 17th in the table since Week 21.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, Lorient comfortably won 4-0 at the Parc des Sports.

 

Sunday: St Etienne (4th) vs Nice (11th) (13:00 GMT)

Sunday’s matches begin with St Etienne hosting Nice at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. The home side will be looking to consolidate their fourth-placed position in the table with a win over a team stuck in mid-table. Heading into the weekend, St Etienne are six points clear of Lyon in fifth and they are only three points behind Lille in the final Champions League qualification spot. Christophe Galtier’s men clearly still have a lot to fight for this season.

Nice meanwhile, have very little to play for in the final few weeks of the campaign. They are nine points above the bottom three, so have no real fear of relegation, but also have no hope of reaching a European qualification place either.

– St Etienne have only lost two home league matches this season, against Toulouse and Lyon.

– They haven’t been out of the top half of the table since the season began.

– Nice have won just two of their last eight league games.

– They have only won two league away games all season, but those wins came against two big clubs, Lille and Marseille.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, St Etienne won 1-0 at the Allianz Riviera.

 

Sunday: Valenciennes (18th) vs Lyon (5th) (16:00 GMT)

Valenciennes face a tough game at home to Lyon at the Stade du Hainaut. The hosts are five points away from safety and are running out of time to pull themselves out of the relegation zone. Ariel Jacobs’ side will certainly be the underdogs heading into the match.

Lyon are coming into this match on the back of a narrow 1-0 quarter final defeat to Juventus in the Europa League so will be looking to get back to winning ways against a side struggling at the bottom end of the table. Last week’s loss in the league to St Etienne was costly for Remi Garde’s men, as St Etienne moved six points ahead of them in the table. If Lyon want to qualify for European competition next season, they can’t afford to drop many more points for the remainder of the campaign.

– Valenciennes have lost just one of their last four league games.

– They fell into the relegation zone in Week 5 and haven’t been out since.

– Lyon have lost just twice in their last eight league games, at home to Monaco and St Etienne.

– They have yet to lose an away league game this season in which they have scored first.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, Valenciennes held Lyon to a 1-1 draw at the Stade de Gerland.

 

Sunday: Monaco (2nd) vs Nantes (14th) (20:00 GMT)

Monaco welcome Nantes to the Stade Louis II in the final game of Week 32. The hosts have fallen 13 points behind league leaders PSG in recent weeks and should now be more concerned with the fact Lille are creeping up behind them. Claudio Ranieri’s side are just six points ahead of Lille and need a few more wins yet to consolidate their runners up spot in the league.

Nantes meanwhile, are a side stuck in mid-table. They are a comfortable eight points clear of the relegation zone, but are on run of bad form of late. That is unlikely to change this weekend, as Michel Der Zakarian’s side head to the Stade Louis II as major underdogs.

– Monaco have not been below fourth all season.

– They have lost just two of their last 12 league games, winning six and drawing four.

– Nantes have won just one of their last 11 league matches.

– They have lost every away league game this season in which they have conceded first.

– In the reverse fixture in Week 14, Monaco secured a 1-0 victory at the Stade de la Beaujoire. 



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