Ligue 1 Matchday 2 Saturday Preview and Predictions

Can Brice Jovial sink Toulouse?

Finally, the Ligue 1 season is underway. After last week’s matches, we can at least get a little glimpse into what some of the teams might look like. Yes, one match into the season isn’t a predictor of anything. Even so, we were able to really get a look at what some of the teams might be throwing out there this season, and help us get an idea of where they are going.

Lorient vs. Bordeaux – This is easily the tale of two teams that went in different directions last week. Lorient pulled off the upset of Matchday 1 with a victory on the road against Paris St. Germain. Bordeaux, on the other hand, continued to struggle to find a scoring touch and lost to St. Etienne by a score of 2-1. But will the same teams show up this weekend?

As far as Lorient, they did play an impressive match. Throughout their game against PSG, Lorient had the home side on their toes. Aggressive play against what many considered a superior opponent was quite a shock. But is that what we should expect from Lorient this season, or was that just a flash in the pan? As for Bordeaux, creating any offensive threat continues to be their main problem. And after the club stated in L’Equipe this week that they would not seek any new players for the remainder of the summer transfer period, Bordeaux are pretty much stuck where they are.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 1 Sunday Predictions

Spiderman on the bench as Stephane Ruffier starts for St. Etienne.

Sorry that I got this one up late, but time difference between the US and France is never that friendly. We only have two matches on the Ligue 1 schedule today, and here are my predictions for those matches.

Dijon vs. Rennes – Truly one of the David vs. Goliath matches of the week. Dijon is predicted to finish 20th almost everywhere.

Rennes, on the other hand, is expected to be fighting for one of the last European qualifying spots.

While Dijon remains an unknown for most people, Rennes isn’t exactly a known team either. One of the things that remains a big question mark today’s match is the maturity of the Rennes players. Knowing very well that he is working with a mostly inexperienced side, coach Frederic Antonetti has tried to address the problem, as is shown here on Stade Rennais Online’s English version. But still, even with the inexperience, Rennes have a well-balanced team and should be able to handle Dijon easily.
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Ligue 1 Predictions for 5th, 4th, 3rd.

5 – St. Etienne: Many people out there are saying ASSE will have a great season, but the jury is very much still out on them.

Of course, there is much discussion about the change of the team over the summer. The big names departing are Dimitri Payet to Lille, Blaise Matuidi to PSG, Emmanuel Riviere to Toulouse and Christophe Landrin to Arles-Avignon (which kind of surprises me). But even though some of these players are gone, there replacements should be able to prove themselves on this stage as well.

The biggest signing for ASSE has to be goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier from Monaco. Does this mean that Jermanie Janot’s retirement is closer than we think? Easily, both of these players know how to play goal, and are some of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1. But even so, both of them have different playing styles. Janot is more or an acrobat, while Ruffier is stellar at positioning. It will be interesting to see how coach Christophe Galtier juggles the goaltending roles.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 36 Sunday Preview

A Lens loss will relegate the team to Ligue 2.

Now with both the League Cup and French Cup out of the way, all eyes can now focus on Matchday 36 and the remaining schedule. As of this point, only three things have been determined. First, Arles-Avignon will be relegated. Second, Lille will be playing in the Champions League. And third, Marseille will be playing in some sort of European competition due to their victory in the League Cup. Everything else is still up in the air.

Many of the matches this weekend could possibly be the predictor of nothing. At the end of the matchday, which will continue until Wednesday, many of the teams that were in competition for an European spot still might not have qualified or have been eliminated from that spot. Therefore, we will first look at a relegation zone match, which could possibly lead to one of the storied teams in Ligue 1 being relegated to the second division.

In the match between Monaco and Lens, both teams will be climbing an uphill battle. After compiling a few wins in April, Monaco looked as if they were going to survive the relegation zone. But after a few disappointing outings, The Principality find themselves right back in the same position as they did before their mini-win streak. As for Lens, the season hasn’t been one to remember. The club thought that making a coaching change from Jean-Guy Wallemme to László Bölöni would help, but many could argue that it has only made things worse. Therefore, who has the advantage going into this match?
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Ligue 1 Matchday 35 Preview – Upset in the making day?

There are only 20 days left until the end of the Ligue 1 season, and the standings are about as predictable as when all the teams had no point. A number of teams can still win the title. A number of teams can be relegated. And, mathematically, every team but Lens and Arles-Avignon are in the hunt to qualify for the last Europa League spot, which could be sixth place in the standings, depending on where PSG finishes (as Lille has already clinched at least a trip to the Europa League).

It seems like it was only yesterday when we were talking about the Lyon vs. Marseille match. In fact, it was yesterday. And now, just two days later, we are getting ready for more Ligue 1 action.

The week will start off with two Tuesday matches, which are being held on the separate day due to the scheduling conflict caused by the French Cup final.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 21 Preview

 

Now that Auxerre is healthy, they have no excuses.

Sandwiched in between French Cup rounds, we do still have a another match day of Ligue 1 games. And while this week looks pretty open and shut, in the world of Ligue 1, anything can happen. With a number of upsets already this year, we can expect there to be at least a few, since most of the matches have clear favorites. So, what to watch for this week:

 

The Upsets – Like I just mentioned, there are a number of underdogs going against teams that should easily dominate them. To expect all of the favorites to win this weekend would be crazy. But, of course, it could happen. With the exception of Arles hosting PSG, anything can happen in any match. Like the French Cup, don’t be surprised it we see a number of upsets.
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Ligue 1′s Wish List for Winter Mercato Part II (Monaco to Valenciennes).

A Sessegnon move to St. Etienne the best option (Reuters)?

We are continuing our quick “needs list” from the other day with the rest of the teams, starting with Monaco.

Monaco – Easily, Monaco has to be one of the biggest upsets of the season. Yes, they do miss Nene, but they still should be a decent mid-table team. Still, one seriously has to wonder if the organization really thought that Daniel Niculae could provide Monaco with the same offensive success as Nene. Yes, he is a solid player, but really?

Anyway, Monaco seems to have some major problems with both their midfield and up front. Their midfield is sub par, though they do have a few players like Nampalys Mendy, who seems to have a bright future. Also, offensively, Chu Young Park really needs to find both some midfield and up front support, so that he isn’t the only one producing offensive chances. Therefore, finding some good, solid forwards and midfielders should be Monaco’s priority. If they don’t build their team now, they might lose some quality players. While Park has a contract extension until 2013, Ruffier’s contract expires in the summer.

Montpellier – During the off-season, many were wondering if the Costa-Montano tandem could be replaced by the Estrada-Giroud pair. And even with a few injuries this season, these two players have been able to work well together. True, they aren’t at the level of Costa-Montano, but they have the potential.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 19: What did we learn?

Last time the top French league was this close, this man was President.

Well, the first half of the season is over, and there is a lot that we can go over. But, for now, we will just do a our weekly recap of “what did we learn” in another unpredictable match day of Ligue 1 play. Also, this is the last one that we will be doing in 2010.

As you know, it will be nearly a month before Ligue 1 starts again. During this time, we will be working on previews of the French Cup competition, which will start shortly after the New Year. We will also be continuing our “Best French Logo” contest. Round 2 will be today, and we will have a few big names in this round.

So, what did we learn (and forgive me if this might be a little “PSG heavy”).

1. This Ligue 1 season, anyone can win it – From 1st Lille to 10th place Montpellier, there is only a five point gap. So, in what season did we see the top 10 teams this close? Let me give you some hints. During this football season:

  • France Gall would win Eurovision with ”Poupée de cire, poupée de son”
  • Rolling Stones start their 2nd US Tour, Beatles hold all Top 5 Billboard spots in US.
  • Graham Hill wins his third Monaco Grand Prix.
  • The Maple Leaf becomes Canada’s official flag.
  • Harold Wilson becomes British PM, Lyndon Johnson elected US President.
  • Bordeaux leads the Ligue 1 standings, Lyon 3rd, Marseille not even in the top flight.

Therefore, it has been a long time (1964-65 season). And with how unpredictable play is, it is really anyone’s championship to win. Oh, and Nantes won that year.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 18 Saturday recap.

Fabien, welcome back!

Fifty-two minutes into the Paris St. Germain vs. Monaco match, one wouldn’t be surprised if talk about erecting a bronze statue in the middle of the Champs de Mars far Nene was spreading around the Parc Des Princes. But after a late goal by Daniel Niculae, Monaco were able to grab a valuable point on the road, which assures that The Principality won’t drop to the bottom three in the league.

Going into this match, PSG were the expected favorites. And if you were to look at their play, they dominated the much weaker Monaco side. In addition, Nene continued to show that he can score goals from anywhere, especially in long-range situations. With his two goals in this match, Nene is now tied with Moussa Sow for the Ligue 1 lead in goals scored at thirteen.

Still, even with Paris holding on two a 2-1 lead late in the match, their lack of concentration led to the game tying goal by Monaco. After Stephane Sessegnon went down to injury, referee Lionel Jeffredo continued play even with Sessegnon down. During this time, Monaco moved the ball into the PSG third of the pitch, where they caught the home side napping, mostly because many of their players were expecting the whistle to blow due to the Sessegnon injury. This led to Daniel Niculae sneaking in and score the game-tying goal.

After the match, both Guy Lacombe and Antoine Kombouare were yelling at one another in the tunnel. Sylvain Armand also had a bit of a “discussion” with Jeffredo. Still, while Jeffredo should have blown the whistle, PSG should have continued to play, which they did not. They deserved this loss.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 18 Saturday Preview

Can young gun Youssef El-Arabi pull Caen from the Ligue 1 cellar?

Well, another week of Ligue 1 action, and finally the top five favorites for the Ligue 1 title are first through fifth. And, of course, three of those teams will play on Sunday, with the big Marseille vs. Lyon match looming.

So, lets dive right into the previews for Saturday’s matches.

Lens vs. Caen – Yes, a match that will basically mean absolutely nothing. The winner “might” move out of the relegation zone, while the loser, of course, will stay in the relegation zone. This is a sad fact considering many people had higher hopes for these teams, at least finishing at mid-table.

One interesting thing regarding this match is that Vedran Runje is expected to be part of the Lens team on Saturday. After a clash with Lens supporters after the teams 3-0 loss to Lorient on the road, Runje was said to have been punished by Gervais Martel regarding the incident. But, it seems like being suspended from playing isn’t part of the punishment. Still, it will be interesting to see how the crowd at Lens, who are always amongst the most vocal in Ligue 1, will react if Runje gets the start, which is expected.
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