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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2011-12 Ligue 1 Predictions: 14th through 9th place.

Now time to continue our Ligue 1 preview for teams that I predict will finish 9th to 14th place. Here we go.

14 – Nancy: Yes, for years and years, everyone talks about how Nancy should be relegated. They aren’t in the most exciting market in France. They might be located in the middle of nowhere. But still, they have been able to stay in France’s top flight during years in which relegation seemed certain.

Going into this year, one could easily put Nancy in the relegation zone yet again. As far as the transfer market, Nancy didn’t really do anything. In fact, they lost Julien Feret and Alfred N’Diaye, which will hurt a little. But as far as transfers coming in, Nancy mostly went with younger players that the jury is still out on. They were able to retain Alexandre Cuvillier from loan, but that was about it.

But there was one big pick up for Nancy, and that is coach Jean Fernandez. After leaving Auxerre, it was a safe bet around Ligue 1 circles that Fernandez was going to go to Bordeaux, a team in which he played for two-year. Instead, his move to Nancy was both a shock and a head-scratcher in football circles. Does he know something that we don’t? Nevertheless, he has always had the eye to find some stunning talent and turn them into superstars. Is that what he is going to do at Nancy?
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Lille one step closer to Ligue 1 title.

Clifford even closer to celebrating a Lille double.

Lille moved one step closer to the Ligue 1 title on Wednesday night as they defeated visiting Sochaux by a score of 1-0. While assuring that they did all but clinch the title, Marseille are still mathematically in the race. But it would take a Herculean effort, as well as two Lille defeats, for Marseille to repeat as champions.

Like many of Lille’s matches lately,they weren’t able to find the scoring touch early in the game. And while they were able to pressure the Sochaux defense, bad luck lead to the first half being scoreless.

A number of Lille players showed impressive play in the opening half, but none more than Gervinho. While he was having his way with the Sochaux defense, his opportunities were either hitting off the posts, or his passes would just take an unlucky bounce.

During the half time, the Lille supporters were able to take a glimpse at their new hardware, as Lille president Michel Seydoux walked around the stadium track with the Coupe de France raised in his hands.
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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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Jean Tigana resigns as Bordeaux coach

Jean Tigana resigns as Bordeaux coach.

After Bordeaux’s 4-0 loss to Sochaux at home, Bordeaux coach Jean Tigana has resigned from the team. More news to be coming on this in the coming hours.

According to sources reporting on the situation, Tigana made his decision after his daughter was verbally abused by Bordeaux fans during the 4-0 loss.

Bordeaux, who were in need of a win in order to keep their hopes high for a possible European qualification spot, had the perfect opportunity to take three points at home against Sochaux, the second worse road team in Ligue 1.
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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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Ligue 1 Matchday 22 Preview – Can St. Etienne prove themselves?

Is St. Etienne on their way to the glory days of the 1970s?

Since the start of 2011, the French footballing world hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Since January, Ligue 1 teams have suffered a number of upsets in both the league and the French Cup. Earlier this week, Sochaux were the latest victim of CFA2 side Chambery. And with upset after upset happening on a constant basis, who really knows what will happen next week.

With that being said, we will look at some of the keys to this weekend, and maybe try to make sense of a Ligue 1 season that is far from making sense. So, here is what to watch for this weekend:

Lille and PSG have a chance to run away – At the start of the season, both Lille and PSG were considered possible contenders for a Champions League position. Now, they are easily in control their own destiny as they will take on two teams which are struggling.

Lille will be traveling to Auxerre. Auxerre, who has to be one of the biggest upsets of the season, have not improved whatsoever. Even with a number of injuries, they haven’t even been able to handle opponents that they should have easily beaten. In addition, Auxerre’s last win was at home against Rennes on November 14th, nearly two months ago. And even with most of their key players back, Auxerre just doesn’t look that good. Therefore Lille, who have been on fire in league play, have a chance to really take them to task.
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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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Coupe de France Round of 32 – What did we learn?

If Aissa Yahia Bey has an agent, I'm sure his phone is ringing off the hook.

After the bleeding of top Ligue 1 team’s in the Round of 64, many were expecting it to maybe change in the Round of 32, where competition would get tighter and where the best would raise to the occasion. Well, that didn’t happen exactly as planned, which brings us to our “what did we learn” analysis about this weekend’s French Cup matches.

Smaller teams want it more – Even in cases where the bigger teams were victorious, the smaller teams still gave them a fight. Agen had no right scoring two goals against Paris St. Germain. Rennes and Lille has less than stellar performances against weaker opponents. Lorient needed extra time to defeat Vendée Fontenay Foot. And, of course, Brest, Bordeaux and Lyon were defeated (though Lyon did play against Nice on the road in the only Ligue 1 match up). In the last few years, starting with the Cup victory by Guingamp over Rennes, smaller teams are starting to become more relevant in this competition. The question is “who will lose next week”?
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