Ligue 1 Predictions: 1st and 2nd place.

The Ligue 1 season is less than 24 hours away. As we all know, the faces of a lot of the teams out there have changed. There doesn’t seem to be any one team that hasn’t had to deal with the summer transfers in one fashion or another. But when all is said and done, which team was the one that came out ahead?

Of course, this is all subjective. For all we know, next week we could have some major transfers that could change the face of Ligue 1 yet again. Just look at last year for example. Yohann Gourcuff, Loic Remi and Andre-Pierre Gignac were some of the players on the move late into the transfer window. And last year was considered a “boring” transfer year, with the exception of Nene going to PSG. This year has been much different.

So, which team is going to make the best of what they have? Which team has the complete package? Here are my predictions for 1st and 2nd place in Ligue 1.
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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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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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Marseille defeat Brest 3-0, find themselves back in the title hunt.

After last week’s upsetting loss to Lyon in “The Olympico”, Marseille looked to jump back on the winning horse and run away against their next opponent, Brest. And to the delight of the fans at the Stade Velodrome, OM didn’t disappoint.

Just minutes into the match, both teams had chances on goal. Jordan Ayew was brought down in the box, which brought a number of calls from the fans demanding a penalty kick, and rightfully so. Just one minute later, Brest’s Nolan Roux made a break on goal, beating goalkeeper Steve Mandanda. Who came out of his net to challenge Roux, but was unable to catch the ball as it headed toward an empty Marseille net. This would be Brest’s only quality chance throughout the 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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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!

Is Olympique de Marseille in the driver’s seat for the Ligue 1 title?

Even though Marseille were able to outplay Auxerre at the Stade Velodrome, they were only able to gain one point at home, which pushed Lille back into first place. And even with the draw, OM has been able to show that they have no intention of making the Ligue 1 title an easy task for Lille.

At the start of the year, maybe people predicted Lille (along with Lyon) to take the title. And while Marseille did have an impressive team on paper, some experts wondered if last season’s success was due more to the under-performance of teams like Bordeaux and Lyon compared to the winning ways of OM.

But this year, Marseille are showing that last year wasn’t a fluke and that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Ligue 1 world. But what has made Marseille this new “quiet power” in the league?

First of all, they are all about winning. At the start of last season, everyone was talking about Marseille struggling. Bordeaux and Lyon looked to be on their way to Ligue 1 title glory, and OM, who spent tons of money on a new team, were kind of pushed to the side. But even with their lack of impressive play at the start of last year, they were able to win their matches. These “ugly wins” early in the season gave Marseille the points that they needed to make an impressive title run toward the end of the season. Eventually, OM were pulling away from the rest of the field like Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes (easily the best horse race in US history).
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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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