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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2011-12 Ligue 1 Preview: 20th to 15th place.

With the Ligue 1 season just days away from starting, and with much of the transfer garbage behind us, we can now actually examine how the Ligue 1 season could possibly play out. Two years ago we saw an influx of players into Marseille and Lyon which changed the faces of their teams. This year, a number of teams will look quite different. Luckily for French football, the net gains seemed to have outweighed the net losses.

In this series of articles, I will be looking at my predictions for teams that I think will finish 20th to 15th place. As the days count down, I will move up the ladder, with my eventually Ligue 1 winner saved for last. So, here we go.

20th – Dijon: Every year, there is always one team that is promoted that actually surprises us and perform better than expected. Last year it was Brest. Could Dijon be one of those teams that people are underestimating?

Like Arles-Avignon last year, Dijon is bringing in a bunch of players that haven’t played with each other before. But, of course, this could be the standard for Ligue 1 this year. But unlike other teams, the transfers into Dijon fail to impress, much like Arles-Avignon. Yes, there are a few good players coming in, like Abdoulaye Meite of Marseille fame. But will bringing in some of these older players really make Dijon a better team? I fail to see that being the case.
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Kevin Gameiro to PSG: Why it’s so Important for Ligue 1

At 2:30 PM (CET) on June 12th, 2011, the official website of Paris Saint-Germain FC announced that Kevin Gameiro had signed a four year deal. Outside sources claim that the fee was 11 million euros with additional incentives possibly worth 15 million. This marked the end of the transfer saga of one of Ligue 1′s brightest stars, having lodged 56 goals and 19 assists in his last three seasons and scoring/creating a goal every 133 minutes this season. Gameiro had been heavily sought after by several clubs, including Valencia, Newcastle, Villareal, and Sevilla in addition to PSG. The diminutive striker had nearly transferred to Valencia in January, agreeing to terms with the club, before Lorient noticed that Valencia hadn’t actually made an offer…oops! Gameiro stayed the second half of the season and came in second in the Ligue 1 scoring charts for the second year running.

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Arsenal target Kevin Gameiro turns eyes to Paris.

In the last six months, there has been much news regarding the sale of Kevin Gameiro. During the summer transfer window, many expected Gameiro to move to Bordeaux to solve their offensive problems that were sure to come (and eventually did come) with the departure of Marouane Chamakh and Yoann Gourcuff.

In the winter, there was talk about a deal in the bag that would send Gameiro to Valencia.

And with the 2011 summer transfer window about to open, the talk of an EPL transfer is growing larger and larger, with Arsenal being the front-runner.

But today, according to L’Equipe, Gameiro spoke with members of Paris St-Germain a few days ago regarding a possible transfer to the capital club. There are no real figure amounts that can be thrown around yet, but it is reported that Gameiro will only play for PSG if they are able to qualify for the Champions League. Technically, Paris, Lyon, Rennes and Sochaux are fighting for third place, which is Ligue 1′s playoff spot for the Champions League.
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Who is Morgan Amalfitano, Arsenal’s new target?

Morgan Amalfitano

We are getting to that time of the year when transfer rumors start flying around faster than Harry Potter books can fly off the bookstore shelves. And while the usual Ligue 1 big names are always mentioned, some of the smaller names get thrown into the discussion as well.

This year, that smaller name has to be Morgan Amalfitano.

At the beginning of this Ligue 1 season, Amalfitano was just another name to most football followers. And to those who followed France’s top flight, he was a good, solid player that could knock in a few goal as well as distribute the ball nicely throughout the pitch. Yes, he was a good player, but nothing really made him stand out as far as being a possible top target for major European football clubs.
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Lorient and Marseille draw, neither gain ground in Ligue 1 table.

Going into Lorient, Marseille had the opportunity pull within one point of league leaders Lille. But Lorient, who plays on synthetic turf, haven’t lost at home since September, and looked to continue that streak against the defending champions. But in the end, both teams played to a 2-2 draw in what could be considered one of the best Ligue 1 matches of the season.

In the opening minutes of the match, Lorient, who were suffering from some key injuries, didn’t let the fact that they are playing the defending Ligue 1 champions phase them. In the first ten minutes, Both Kevin Gameiro and Morgan Amalfitano were able to penetrate deep into OM territory, giving the home side the offensive momentum.

But while the offense of Lorient where able to continue to pressure, the same could not be said for the defense, which, on a number of occasions, missed tackles and gave OM a number of chances on goal.
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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 34 Preview: Are there some big games this weekend?

Going into this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches, everyone can see the one big match that will be looming over all other matches, which is Sunday night’s heavyweight match between Lyon and Marseille, now termed the Olympico.

But of course, there are a number of other matches that will be going on that will have just as much of an impact on what could happen in the Ligue 1 season as the big OL vs. OM match does. Therefore, lets take a brief look at the upcoming weekend.

Lille is the team that is current leading the league. Luckily for them, they will be playing Nancy on the road. Nancy, a team that many people expect (and, sadly, want) to be relegated to Ligue 2 this season. They will be fighting for the Ligue 1 lives against the championship front-runners. Unfortunately for Nancy, Lille have the second best road record in Ligue 1. True, they will be missing the services of Yohan Cabaye, but his absence shouldn’t hurt them against an opponent that they should easily defeat. And if Lille is able to grab a valuable three points while both OL and OM are slugging it out (which could end in a draw), they could truly make this a two-horse race for the Ligue 1 title.

In other matches, a number of teams vying for the final Europa League spots will be squaring off against one another.

One of those matches will be Lorient hosting Toulouse. Both teams are coming off positive wins. And while Toulouse’s 2-0 win against Lyon might look more impressive than Lorient’s come-from-behind victory at Lens, they are still coming off a high nonetheless. For Lorient, Kevin Gameiro, who was looking like he might have slowed down about a month ago, is showing that he is back and with full force. But what will hurt Gameiro is that Toulouse’s defense looks to be back as well.
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Matchday 31 – What did we learn?

Benoit Cheyrou - the real "Player of the Year"?

1. Could lackluster end of season leave a bad taste in people’s mouth? - Usually around the end of a season, teams at the top of the table start elevating their level of play to try to either win the league or make a run for a Champions League position. But right now it doesn’t seem as if any of the teams really want the Ligue 1 title. Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, Lille and PSG have all played “less than average” games over the past few weeks, and one must really ask if any of them have the drive to win the championship. Instead of the best team pulling ahead of the rest, it is starting to look like “the team that doesn’t play the worse” might win this championship, which could damage the reputation of Ligue 1.

Because of this, we really can’t say who is the favorite to win the championship. We can’t pick out one team (like we did with Marseille last year) and say “ah ha, that is the team that will win it, they have the drive.” Instead, the end of the season might resemble the end of The Blair Witch Project, where people will be scratching their heads while leaving the theater saying “that’s it?”

So please, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, PSG or Rennes, can one of you please pick up your play so we can have at least a little bit of an idea on who really intends to make a serious run at the top spot in the table?
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