Finally, time to make the first predictions of the year. True, I might not be as accurate as I was at picking PSG games last year, but I will try to do my best and keep a running total to see how well, or crappy, I do. So here we go.
Ajaccio vs. Toulouse – Even with a few knocks to the team, Toulouse should be the better side today. Yes, traveling to Corsica might be something new, but I’m sure Toulouse can cope with the beautiful landscape. Still, a lot of time when teams are promoted from one league to another, they seem to play better ball in their first few matches. Look at Caen last year. But as far as this match, Toulouse has the players to control the tempo. Moussa Sissoko had a quiet season last year, let’s see if he can start this season on fire. Of course, Toulouse will miss the services of Daniel Braaten, Etienne Didot, Etienne Capoue and new arrival Emmanuel Riviere, but should be able to cope with the line up they have no. Imagine when all of them are healthy. Prediction: Toulouse 1-0.
Brest vs. Evian - In Evian’s first match in Ligue 1, they will play against an opponent that is pretty much their equal. Of course, most people will be watching to see how Sidney Govou and Jerome Leroy cope. Will they help Evian, or be a drag against them? That is the hard thing about Matchday 1, there are so many unknowns. The only thing that is really known is that Brest is pretty much intact from last year. Therefore, like with almost all Brest matches, Nolan Roux will be the player to watch. This should be a good, balanced match to watch. Prediction: Draw 1-1.
Caen vs. Valenciennes – While both of these teams remain somewhat the same from last year, the impact of Pierre-Alain Frau will be the most interesting thing to watch. Will he be able to be a force up front, or is he past his prime? But with Valenciennes’ tough defense, Frau might be thrown around a little bit. Will this throw him off his game? Again, Matchday 1 always has the unknowns. One thing that isn’t unknown is the Danic-Pujol connection, which is one of the most underrated in Ligue 1. Expect both teams to play on equal footing. I just see Valenciennes having the edge. Prediction: Valenciennes 2-1.
Nice vs. Lyon – I predicted OL to finish 3rd. I predict Nice to be relegated. The starting lineup for Lyon looks solid. Not so much for Nice. Still, Nice can pull off upsets in the last minute against big teams, like they did with Marseille last year. Still, I don’t see it happening here. Prediction: Lyon 2-0.
Nancy vs. Lille – Just like the Nice vs. Lyon match, this is a match of two unequals. Nancy does have Jean Fernandez, but Lille have Rudi Garcia. Player for player, Lille is simply better. Again, seeing how some of the newer players gel, especially Dimitri Payet, will be the most interesting part of this match. Prediction: Lille 3-0.
Montpellier vs. Auxerre – Even though I have been talking about the “unknowns” of Matchday 1, these two teams are two of the biggest unknowns of the season. If you look at any prediction site, both of these teams range from 7th place to relegation. Of course, Auxerre will have to play an even more defensive style of play with the departure of some key player. Thus, scoring goals this season will be Auxerre’s biggest problem. As for Montpellier, will Olivier Giroud be able punch through the Auxerre defense? Marco Estrada isn’t playing today, and the same goes for Karim Ait-Fana (both aren’t “match ready”). Therefore, today, Giroud will have to play it alone. And with that said, expect a defensive match. Draw 0-0.
Marseille vs. Sochaux – While many will be watching PSG vs. Lorient today, the best matchup might be Marseille vs. Sochaux. With both the starters and the bench Marseille has, they should be able to take on Sochaux quite easily. Even though Marseille have a decent defense, the offense of Sochaux should be able to give them some problems. Unlike the Montpellier vs. Auxerre match, this match could be highly offensive with play flowing from one end of the pitch to another. The main thing to watch today is to see how Alou Diarra does in his first game for OM, especially against Marvin Martin. Prediction: OM 3-1.
Paris St. Germain vs. Lorient – This is the matchup everyone is waiting for. Honestly, I’m not. Of course, we all know what PSG has done over the last couple of months. On the other hand, Lorient has dismantled their team over the last two years. If you look at their starting lineup today, it is unrecognizable compared to not just two years ago, but last year as well. I feel that this is going to be a tough year for Lorient, and PSG will just have their way with them. Don’t be surprise if Kevin Gameiro has a hat-trick in his first game against his old team. PSG 3-0.
Filed under: Ligue 1 Commentary