Match Previews: French Ligue 1 (Week 17)

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Updated: December 5, 2013
Marseille

Marseille vs. Nantes

Match Date: 06 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade Vélodrome

 

Marseille

Marseille are working hard to regain their position in the French top-tier league. The side were on top once this season, but they have fallen out of the top five on a certain point. Although they were beaten by Lille in their most recent fixture, Les Phocéens still managed to protect their fourth-place standing. This was due mainly to their very successful matches with Sochaux, Ajaccio, and Montpellier in the weeks prior to their defeat.

 

The hostile reception in Lille, which eventually ended in a defeat, caused Marseille some distress. Team playmaker Mathieu Valbuena will be out for four to six weeks after injuring his shoulder in the combat. The France international was replaced in the 70th minute when he hurt himself after a collision with Lille defender Simon Kjaer.

 

Nantes

Their last five Ligue 1 matches gave Nantes seven points, on a W2-D1-L2 record. After the goal-less defeats they suffered from Monaco and Guingamp, Les Canaris have found enough capacity to retaliate when they tackled Valenciennes 2-1.  The success was a crucial source of points for the troupe in that it would decide whether they can climb back to the top five or not—and they did, thanks to Bedoya’s equalizer and the late goal delivered by the Aristeguieta-Bessat tandem.

 

Nantes’ strongest asset is their knack for counter attacks.  They may be week at aerial duels and often lose possession of the ball, but their ability to finish scoring chances and defending set pieces are enough to compensate for their deficiencies.

 

Football betting tip: This match would display an attack-powered clash that could result in high scoring opportunities. With both sides having excellent command of the ball, a draw should be expected.

 

Marseille | Image source: theoffside.com

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Paris Saint-Germain vs. Sochaux

Match Date: 07 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Parc des Princes

 

Paris Saint-Germain

Losing their battle to Evian TG was a massive shocker for the current league leaders, PSG. The loss was already heartbreaking, but suffering it via a clean sheet was just too much to take. PSG’s unbeaten run was ruined through this meeting, and although it caused deep upset to Les Rouge-et-Bleu, it was a resounding success for Evian. Second-half goals from Clarck N’Sikulu and Modou Sougou gave the hosts a first top-flight win over PSG. The latter should have performed better, but they wasted plenty of scoring chances that ultimately led to their downfall.

 

Despite the loss, PSG are still not denied of the fact that they are among the strongest players in the tournament. It was just one defeat after all, and points lost to it will never subdue the massive scores they obtained in their last 26 Ligue 1 matches.

 

Sochaux

Winning only once this season, Sochaux will have a tremendously hard time fetching themselves out of the relegation zone. The successive winless runs they scored are sufficient indicators of the lack in major structure within the club. Hervé Renard is not making any progress in the ways he manages the squad, as evidenced by their weaknesses on finishing scoring chances and in avoiding individual errors. But to be fair, they are excellent in creating long shot opportunities.

 

Football betting tip: This clash between the table’s frontrunners and the underdogs is saying a very obvious outcome. PSG will thrash Sochaux, and a clean sheet is a very probable result.

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 Lorient

Lorient vs. Stade Rennes

Match Date: 07 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade du Moustoir

 

Lorient

Christian Gourcuff has finally found the traction he had to hold on to in the French top-flight football. Following a massive string of successes in their most recent matches, Lorient obtained enough points to get themselves out of the bottom quarter and instead, bolt into the top 12. They currently have 20 points in their scoreboard, made bulbous by the three clean sheets they scored from Evian TG, Nice, and Montpellier.

 

Stade Rennes

Inconsistency is still among the factors that hold back Rennes from performing more than what they are capable of. The side may have won their latest fixture (against Saint Etienne 3-1), but at the back of that success are dull results that forced them to concede several goals. As a result, they currently suffer a negative-digit goal difference. But thanks to the victories and draws they achieved earlier in the season, dwindling to relegation is still a long shot.

 

Football betting tip: With no substantial superiority factors to set their difference, Lorient and Rennes will end their meeting in a deadlock.

 

Lorient | Image source: girondins.com

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St Etienne vs. Evian Thonon Gaillard

Match Date: 07 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade Geoffrey-Guichard

 

Saint Etienne

Four lads—Mignot, Saadi, Zouma, and Baysse—are sidelined, so Saint Etienne need to do some adjustments in order to accommodate possible arrangements. The side’s past five matches have been a mixture of appalling results and really good ones. A goal-less draw was scored when they met with Sochaux; defeats were incurred when they battled out with Lyon 1-2 and Rennes 3-1; and clean sheets were savored when they fought against Nice 0-1 and Reims 4-0. Overall score indicates Les Verts to be a top six powerhouse, after earning 24 points from 16 fixtures.

 

Evian TG

Succumbing to Lorient and Bastia without scoring any goal was a huge slap in the face for Evian TG. However, the embarrassment was aptly compensated after the side defeated one of the league’s most solid clubs: Paris Saint-Germain. The victory was not just an ordinary success; it was a clean sheet 2-0 and a substantial source of points to push Evian further up in the rankings (now at number 15). PSG had a lot of chances to score (all wasted), but the second half rallies by N’Sikulu and Sougou ultimately decided the result.

 

Football betting tip: Saint Etienne and Evian’s last three meetings together resulted in two draws and one victory (in favor of the home side). In this upcoming rematch, Saint Etienne will most probably pick up all the three points again, but not without fighting really hard against an improving adversary.

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 Reims

Stade de Reims vs. Nice

Match Date: 07 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade Auguste Delaune II

 

Reims

After running on three matches without a goal (one draw, two defeats), Reims have finally picked up three points when they met with Sochaux and held their opponents in a clean sheet. While the result was expected, the match still displayed some impressive stunts that may have won supporters back into believing in the capacities of Reims. Glombard opened the scoring in the 16th minute for the visitors, and despite creating several scoring chances, Sochaux failed to deliver an equalizer. Oniangue scored another goal for Reims in the match’s dying minutes.

 

Nice

There’s a scoring disease that is plaguing Nice lately. For six consecutive matches, the players have been reeling in the losers’ zone. While they managed to score a goal in their clashes with Bordeaux and PSG, they were badly assaulted by Bastia, Saint Etienne, Lorient, and most recently, Monaco—all of which beat them on a complete disaster. As a result, the team have been plunging further down in the league rankings. They are now just two places away from the relegation zone, which was their home base during their curtain raiser.

 

Football betting tip: With a more reliable form, higher table placement, better consistency, and a generally stronger attack, Reims will rule this tourney over Nice.

 

Reims | Image source: stade-de-reims.com

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Valenciennes vs. Guingamp

Match Date: 07 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade du Hainaut

 

Valenciennes

Periled by a growing number of injured players, Valenciennes are in a major player (and scoring) crisis. Seven of the squad’s men have been sidelined, which include top scorer Gregory Pujol and Anthony Le Tellac. This suggests a major blow to Ariël Jacobs’ troupe, and without these men, the chance for victory in their next battles would be put to a hiatus. However, things can’t entirely go wrong for Les Athéniens, especially when powerhouse players like Jose Saez and Maor Melikson are still around to strike some goals. The team are currently in the relegation zone, and they would need tremendous efforts and extensive planning in order for them to escape that dreaded part of the table.

 

Guingamp

Guingamp’s last five matches only rendered them with one victory; the rest of the number was equally divided between draws and defeats. Current rankings place the squad at number nine, which is two spots lower than their previews placement. Earning 22 points from 16 fixtures, Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men have already scored 18 goals.

 

Despite their recent shortcomings, Guingamp remain one of the better sides this season. They have been in the relegation zone twice, but they managed to escape it several times more. They are maintaining strong maneuvers based on direct free kicks and attacks down the wings, although they still need some more practice in defending set pieces.

 

Online betting tip: With a relatively more reliable form and a smaller number of sidelined players than their opponents, Guingamp are on their way to achieving their second away win (and seventh overall) this season.

 

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 Bord

Bordeaux vs. Lille

Match Date: 08 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas

 

Bordeaux

They may have opened the season on an embarrassing note, but Bordeaux have gradually found their rhythm as the tournament progressed. The team’s form is getting stronger every passing week, with exception on some occasions when they had to concede goals. Their last two matches gave them landslide victories, earning clean sheets from Ajaccio 4-0 and Guingamp 0-1. Together with their other match results, Les Girondins now flaunt a score of 24 points—a figure large enough to place them in the table’s top half.

 

Domestically, Francis Gillot’s men are fetching a notch higher, but internationally, they are less impressive. Their Europa League results have so far been unsatisfactory, obtaining just one victory in the past five continental fixtures they had. In addition, there is also a growing number of players being sidelined. In their next Ligue 1 battle, five players will not be able wrestle in the pitch.

 

Lille

Les Dogues’s ascent in the league table is among the most inspiring feats this season. The team were once basking in the mid-table, at number 10, but after several massive, non-consecutive victories they earned from weeks 6 to 16, Lille have successfully soared into the second spot. They are just one point behind PSG, and have already overtaken previous table leaders Monaco and Marseille.

 

Throughout the competition, Lille have displayed drastic improvement in their ability to steal the ball from the opposition. They also have developed faculties in counter attacks and in creating long shot opportunities. Nevertheless, they still need some more aggressiveness in their defense against through ball attacks.

 

Online betting tip: While they may be five places apart (in the rankings), Bordeaux and Lille could make this encounter one of the most exciting in the season. Both sides have shown dramatic upgrade in their maneuver-based skills, and thus, drawing by the end of the tourney is not impossible.

 

Bordeaux | Image source: girondins.com

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Bastia vs. Olympique Lyonnais

Match Date: 08 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade Armand-Cesari-Furiani

 

Bastia

Julien Sable and Drissa Diakite are both injured, and they cannot appear in Bastia’s fixtures until next year. Despite this, Frédéric Hantz would only do some minimal changes in his men’s position.

 

At home, I Turchini are very strong, picking up 19 points from just seven fixtures. Their mediocrity on away tourneys is heavily compensated when they play in their own territory. In fact, even with their home score alone, they’d still not fall below the top 15. They currently rank at number eight, after accumulating a total of 23 points from all their matches.

 

Olympique Lyonnais

Despite debuting in the season with heavy victories against Nice and Sochaux, Lyon are hardly hitting the right targets to gain back the top position. They were the league leaders in the tournament’s first two weeks, but after inconsistency plagued their streak, they have dwindled in the rankings as low as number 14. In their most recent match, Les Gones scored a disappointing 4-0 defeat from PSG, but thanks to the points they earned from slamming Guingamp and Saint Etienne and drawing with Valenciennes, they were still able to seize placement in the top 10. However, there is another problem: the squad is in injury crisis. Ghezzal, Dabo, Briand, Benzia, and Lopes are all unavailable.

 

Online betting tip: With a clean record at home and a significantly fewer number of injured players, Bastia could take the lead in this fixture.

 

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 Toulouse

Toulouse vs. Montpellier

Match Date: 08 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stadium Municipal

 

Toulouse

Ben Yedder’s hat-trick rallied Toulouse to a 5-1 victory when he and his team welcomed Sochaux at the Stade Municipal de Toulouse on weekend. Sochaux had taken the lead through Emmanuel Mayuka’s strike in the sixth minute, but the remainder of the match belonged to the home side as Yedder scored thrice while Sirieix and Zouma struck one goal apiece. The victory marks TFC’s first victory in weeks, after suffering winless results in their past few Ligue 1 matches. Overall tally places Alain Casanova’s men at number 14, with 19 points covering their scoreboard.

 

Montpellier

La Paillade have been winless for seven weeks now, after only drawing with Nantes, Valenciennes, and Guingamp, and succumbing to Lille, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Lorient. The dismaying streak runs behind an otherwise massive victory, when Montpellier thrashed Lyon on a four-goal lead. Overall scoring places the side at number 17, just one spot away from the relegation zone. However, they are still five points clear of Valenciennes, the current 18th placers.

 

Online betting tip: Toulouse’s record at home is much stronger than Montpellier’s streak on the road. Their past three meetings together also put the former on the dominant side. Hence, in this bout, Toulouse would still earn all the three points.

 

Toulouse | Image source: sportsmole.co.uk

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AS Monaco vs. AC Ajaccio

Match Date: 08 December 2013 (local)

Match Venue: Stade Louis II

 

Monaco

Monaco have been unbeaten in their last four matches, and the defeat they incurred at the back of that streak was the only time they lost points this season. They are among the league’s strongest competitors, but they lack the massive tricks to regain their leadership in the league due to PSG and Lille (the first and second placers, respectively) massively upgrading their form. Regardless, Monaco remain a huge barricade other clubs would fail to destroy. Their current record stands at W10-D5-L1, with total earnings of 35 points.

 

Ajaccio

Like a ship sailing on the most turbulent seas, Ajaccio hardly make themselves free of any distress. They have been winless for the past nine weeks, and appearing in the relegation zone for several times now should not come as a surprise. They show no significant strengths on any skills department, but are instead, clearly weak in areas such as defending counter attacks, avoiding offside, and finishing scoring chances.

 

Online betting tip: As clear as crystal, this tourney will result in a massive victory. Highly esteemed Monaco will find the net several times to thrash lowly Ajaccio.