The Ligue 1 title race is turning into the tightest in recent history, with the top 3 teams (Nice, Monaco and PSG) separated by just a single point. As the season heads towards the halfway point and the winter break, none of those sides can afford to slip up. It’s a similar story at the bottom, with the teams from 13th to 19th separated by just 5 points – so every point matters. With that in mind, here are the previews for the latest batch of important games:
Tuesday 29th November
(18:00 GMT) LOSC Lille Métropole (19th) vs Stade Malherbe Caen (15th)
First up is a big clash down the bottom of the league. Whilst Caen are around where they expected to be this season, Lille are struggling slightly and are currently without a manager. Lille are missing some key players (especially Mavuba) but will fancy their chances at home against a Caen side who haven’t won away all season. Lille have a good recent record at home against Caen, having not lost this fixture this century. Also, with the need to impress any potential new managers I think that Lille will turn in a good performance that their fans have been craving all season and win well
Prediction: Lille 3-1 Caen
(18:00 GMT) FC Lorient (20th) vs Stade Rennais (4th)
So far this season, Stade Rennais have been one of the surprise performers in Ligue 1 along with Nice, as they currently sit in 4th – the main challengers to the top 3. Lorient, on the other hand are struggling as many predicted, and sit rooted to the foot of the table just below Lille. Lorient have recently appointed a new manager in Bernard Casoni, but haven’t seen an upturn in form – taking only 1 point since he took charge. However, Casoni will feel this is a fixture they can get a positive result in, as Stade Rennais haven’t exactly been winning convicingly (and would be 14th if only away games were counted).
Prediction: Lorient 1-1 Stade Rennais
(20:00 GMT) Dijon FCO (14th) vs AS Monaco (2nd)
As expected, Monaco find themselves settling nicely in 2nd place although they aren’t behind PSG as expected, but Nice. With both of their title rivals not playing until tomorrow night, this is a real chance for Monaco to put a real statement of intent out. Monaco are on a three game winning run, whilst Dijon’s form has ground to a halt with a 4 game winless run. Monaco may be scoring goals for fun (43 in their 14 league games), along with Dijon having one of the worst defences in the league (21 goals conceded so far), but don’t write Dijon off – they beat Lyon 4-2 at home towards the end of August, and have scored 14 of their 18 goals at home so far. This should be a good game, and one I will be watching
Prediction: Dijon 2-3 Monaco
Wednesday 30th November
(18:00 GMT) Nantes (17th) vs Olympique Lyonnais (7th)
Nantes are one of those teams who are expected to struggle this season, and as such can approach this game with an air of freedom, as Lyon would be expected to win this comfortably (particularly given that they have an inform striker in Alexandre Lacazette). To put it bluntly, Nantes are terrible at home, having only managed 3 goals in front of their own fans since August. Lyon should win this with ease, especially with most of their squad back to fitness to help push them up to the top of table, but it is worth noting that they did lose away to Lorient earlier this season (Lorient are far and away the worst team in the league), so it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if Nantes did win. But, that home record really says they shouldn’t pose much of a threat.
Prediction: Nantes 0-2 Lyon
(18:00 GMT) Nancy-Lorraine (18th) vs FC Metz (11th)
This is a tough one to call, as despite both teams being in the bottom half they are both in fairly decent form – Nancy have lost just 1 of their last 5, while Metz are unbeaten in November. Nancy have a similar problem to Nantes, as they have only managed 5 goals in front of their fans all season, although Metz have been far from convincing in their unbeaten run – finding themselves 3-1 down to bottom club Lorient at the weekend, even if they did pull it back to get a 3-3 draw, is an embarrassment
Prediction: Nancy 1-1 Metz
(18:00 GMT) Toulouse FC (9th) vs Montpellier (13th)
These two sides couldn’t be more contrasting if they tried – Toulouse are winless in 4 following a great start, whilst Montpellier are unbeaten in 4 after an awful start (albeit with 3 of those 4 games being draws). Another contrast is that Toulouse are normally great at home (they had a 100% record at home until the last game of October), whereas Montpellier haven’t won away yet. With contrasting form issues, this is the most difficult one to call.
Prediction: Toulouse 1-1 Montpellier
(18:00 GMT) AS Saint-Étienne (8th) vs Olympique de Marseille (12th)
On paper, this looks like a good game, with both teams having higher aspirations than where they are in the table. For a squad of their quality, Marseille have been really disappointing this season – especially in their 4-0 battering by Monaco at the weekend. Add to that the fact that they have the 3rd worst away record in the league (with no away wins yet this season!) and one would think this should be easy for Saint-Étienne. But they are one of the most inconsistent teams in France, with wildly contrasting fortunes each week. One telling factor that could decide this match is that Saint-Étienne are missing their first choice striker – Robert Beric – through injury, and this is their 3rd game in less than a week. Could that be telling, and earn Marseille what would be a surprising win?
Prediction: ASSE 1-2 Marseille
(18:00 GMT) Bastia (16th) vs Girondins Bordeaux (6th)
These two teams are currently getting draws galore recently – Bastia have drawn 3 of their last 4, whilst Bordeaux have drawn 4 of their last 6 (in which they are unbeaten). Bastia were probably the surprise of the weekend, as they came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw with leaders Nice – and were fully deserving of it too. If they can recreate that type of performance, Bordeaux could have a real fight to get a result here.
Prediction: Bastia 0-0 Bordeaux
(18:00 GMT) En Avant de Guingamp (5th) vs Nice (1st)
So, onto the current leaders of Ligue 1 – fully deserving of it too, having only lost once all season in the league, and somehow managing to get some sort of form out of Mario Balotelli. However, their recent form doesn’t make for good reading with just 1 win in their last 3 games. Guingnamp are one of the form teams in the league right now, and are unbeaten at home all season, but with very tight results in almost all of their home games. Nice have traditionally dominated this fixture, including an extraordinary game here 2 seasons ago when they ran out 7-2 winners. Most of their fans would love a repeat of that, but it’s hard to see it happening.
Prediction: Guingamp 2-1 Nice
(20:00 GMT) PSG (3rd) vs Angers (10th)
Where has it all gone wrong for PSG? They sacked Laurent Blanc for not doing well in Europe, just to bring in a European specialist in Unai Emery. Sure, they are top of their Champions League group, but they’re failing to exert their traditional Ligue 1 dominance, not even being in the top 2 at the moment. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom as they are the form side in the league, and in Edinson Cavani they do seem to have the replacement for Zlatan. Having only conceded a single goal at home, it is hard to see anything other than a PSG win here, especially with Angers beginning to struggle after a bright start.
Prediction: PSG 4-0 Angers