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 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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Lille do the double, win Ligue 1 title. Sochaux to Europa League.

Lille OSC: 2010-11 Ligue 1 Champions.

Lille OSC: 2010-11 Ligue 1 Champions.

After last week’s big win against Sochaux, Lille, who has not won a Ligue 1 championship since 1954, only had to score one point in their last two matches in order to secure the title. And trying to gain that point in the Parc des Princes isn’t the easiest of tasks. Yet Lille were up to that task as they drew with Paris St. Germain 2-2 and win the Ligue 1 title.

Unlike their French Cup match, which was pretty lame to say the least, this one was a barn-burner which saw a number of close chances for both teams as well as a number of confrontations as well. Lille opened up the scoring just five minutes into the match when Ludovic Obraniak, who scored the only goal in the French Cup final, knocked one in, making the score 1-0. After that, Paris were able to take control of the game, with a number of opportunities coming close for the home side.

In the third minute of stoppage time in the first half, PSG were able  to finally net that goal, with the goal scorer being Guillaume Hoarau, leveling the match at 1-1.
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Michel Bastos close to Juventus move, Liverpool out.

According the France Football, Lyon midfielder Michel Bastos looks to be making the move out of Lyon to Italian giants Juventus at the end of the season. According to the site, Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas has opened the door for negotiations, which could possibly land the French club 18 million Euros. Liverpool was also rumored to be another club that could have seen the arrival of Bastos, but are reportedly out of the pitcure.

Bastos transferred to Lyon from Lille in 2009 where me made an immediate impact for Claude Puel, who he had played for at Lille as well. The transfer to Lyon cost 18 million Euros as well.

While Bastos had an impressive season last year, this season has been mixed. Playing in different positions than the year before, Bastos hasn’t been the most productive player. Still, the switching of Bastos was mainly done to compensate for holes that were left with the departure of players like Sidney Govou.
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Auxerre shocks Lyon 4-0.

After an amazing match, which saw Olympique Lyonnais defeat their rivals Olympique Marseilles by a score of 3-2 on Sunday, the victors of The Olympico were unable to take their winning touch to the Stade Abbe Deschamps, as they suffered a 4-0 defeat to Auxerre.

Prior to the match, Claude Puel went with a less experienced line up compared to what he had available. Even though Aly Cissokho was available, Puel instead continued with Thimothee Kolodzieczak at left back. In addition, Puel also went with Clement Grenier, because of the lack of midfielders available to the Lyon coach. Lisandro Lopez, Jeremey Toulalan and Yohann Gourcuff were all unavailable for this match, as all are suffering with injuries.

Early in the match, Auxerre star Ireneusz Jelen succumbed to a hamstring injury in the 4th minute. In the 10th minute, Jelen, who was showing visible signs of pain, was replaced by Roy Contout.
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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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The Olympico: Lyon vs. Marseille Preview.

As we mentioned in our Matchday 34 preview, there will be a number of matches that will have European qualification implications. But even with that being the case, all other matches have been overshadowed by the battle in the Stade de Gerland on Sunday night, simply known as The Olympico.

Both Lyon and Marseille have not had the easiest times this season. Both have been battered with a number of injuries this season, and this weekend’s game will be no exception.

Therefore, who has the edge? A Marseille win means great momentum going into the last four matches of the season to try to secure a second Ligue 1 title in as many years. A Lyon victory means taking a little bit of an edge in the race for third place with Paris St. Germain, in addition to some possible outside hope to win the Ligue 1 title, depending on what happens in the Lille vs. Nancy match.

Goalkeeping: Usually, one would say that Lyon has the advantage with Hugo Lloris in goal. And even in this match, that is the case. But in recent weeks, Lloris hasn’t looked like the most steady keeper in the league. Many Lyon supporters get nervous with Lloris’ risky saves. But in the past, he has proven that he is up to the task when making those risky saves. In the last few weeks…not as much.
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EA Sports Preview of the “Olympico”

If you are getting ready for the big game today, here is just a little sneak peak from our friends at EA Sports (from Maitland, FL, a place I know very well).

And to give EA Sports credit, they do have the injuries and suspension reflected. Nice job! Do you agree with the result?

Enjoy!

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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A look at a team Lyon is starting to know well, Real Madrid.

Our Friends over at Spanish Football.info were nice enough to give us a little look into Real Madrid prior to this week’s big match between the Spanish powerhouse and French superteam, Lyon. This preview was written by Jamie McGregor. Enjoy.

The Champions League is always an important competition for Real Madrid but with los blancos 5 points behind a seemingly unstoppable Barcelona in the league, this year’s competition takes on even greater importance. Furthermore, success in the Champions League is now a psychological factor for the club and their fans. For a club who have won the competition 9 times, more than anyone else, the last 6 years have been exceptionally disappointing and the feeling is that the club has lost some of its prestige abroad. On each of their last 6 attempts, Real Madrid have failed to get past the last 16. As if that weren’t bad enough, in that same period of time Barcelona have won the competition twice. With José Mourinho, a manager who has won the tournament on two occasions, now in charge, expectations are once again sky high.

The season so far and the Mourinho factor
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