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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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 20 Preview – How will Lens perform today?

How much will the departure of Razak Boukari hurt Lens?

To be perfect honest, I hate doing match previews. I dislike doing research on Nancy vs. Arles. And if I do a review of all of the matches, that means that I have to do research on matches that really don’t matter. And even if there isn’t a storyline in a certain match up, I have to make one up.

So from this point on, instead of previewing all of the matches, I am just going to mention some things that you might want to look for in each matchday. This should make it easier, as well as more interesting. So here we go.

How will Lens perform today? – This might be the first time that we open this segment talking about Lens, but they have gone through a few changes in the last month. First, coach Jean-Guy Wallemme was replaced by Romanian László Bölöni. Second, Lens’ leading scorer, Abdoulrazak Boukari, was transferred to Rennes. Many will argue that these two changes might have hurt Lens more than helped. And Lens’ 5-1 loss to PSG in the French Cup my just be proof. They play against St. Etienne today, so we will see if they look any better than they did in their Cup match.
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Ligue 1′s Wish List for Winter Mercato Part I (Arles-Avignon to Lyon).

A younger Gervais Martel's idea of gift giving! Thank God I wasn't at his house last night!

Once Christmas has come and gone, it is time to start talking about the second half of the Ligue 1 season. And, of course, the talk about the winter transfer window starts to heat up.

So far this year some teams have shown that they need quality players a little more than others. Not all of these teams are bad, like Marseille, but filling holes will be a top priority. The only issue is that players really don’t fly off the shelves during the winter like they do in the summer. Therefore, the possibility of a blockbuster deal being made isn’t too high.

Still, teams are in need of players, and (for the sake of space), we are just quickly going to go over those needs.

Arles-Avignon – Honestly, this is a team that can use some help all around, to compete in Ligue 1, that is. But the goal of staying in France’s top flight in football is becoming more and more of a dream with every passing minute. Therefore, building for the future in Ligue 2 should be their priority.

Auxerre – If any team has been plagued by injuries in the world of football, it has to be Auxerre. In the off-season, AJA looked to be a solid team for the future. But now, with a large number of their key players down to injury, they are running in crisis mode. Still, when all of their stars return to the starting lineup, they should have a solid team. And until we can see all of the player play together as a unit, it is hard to tell what they need right now.
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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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Ligue 1 Matchday 17 Saturday Preview: Could be a snoozer!

Could Pedretti's injury lead to even more woes at Auxerre?

During the mid-week, Ligue 1 teams had mixed results. At the Stade Velodrome, Marseille were able to knock off Chelsea by a score of 1-0, which could have actually been more for Marseille. The other two teams in the Champions League didn’t fare as well, as Lyon drew against Tel Aviv and Auxerre lost to Marseille.

So how will those teams do this weekend? Here is our Saturday Matchday 17 preview.

Brest vs. Montpellier – This might be the story of two teams heading in different directions. Last week, Brest weren’t the most impressive team against Paris St. Germain. On the other hand Montpellier looked great, even though it was in a losing effort.

While both teams have had decent showings this season, neither team have really shown that they have gelled. Both have decent scorers, but both have great defenses. This could easily be a 1-0 game, but for who?

Up front, I think that Brest have a little bit of an edge right now over Montpellier. While Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud has had a decent season, Nolan Roux always seems to find a way to slip by the defenders. Therefore, I’m going with Roux and Brest in a 1-0 win.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 16 Saturday Preview: Wake up call for some teams.

Lloris will need to have a big day against Montpellier for OL to win.

Last week in Ligue 1, we had a number of evenly matched teams playing one another. This week, it is a different story. Instead, we have some really good and stiff competitions. Some team will be able to show if they have what is take to stay at the top of the Ligue 1 table. Some will show if they are really a cinderella story, and have just been messing with us the last 15 weeks.

Arles-Avignon vs. AS Nancy Lorraine – if Brest isn’t going to be in the relegation zone this year, who is? Of course, we already know that Arles-Avignon will be down there. But Nancy makes a good case for demotion as well.

So far this year, Nancy hasn’t had any consistency. They have quality players like Youssouf Hadji, Marama Vahirua and Paul Alo’o Efoulou who haven’t produced. Goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano, who suffered a finger injury not too long ago, seems to have been replaced by Damien Gregorini. Again, that isn’t helping the team. Basically, they really don’t have anything going for them.

The only thing they have going for them this week is that they are playing Arles-Avignon, who are even worse than they  are. During the off-season, there was a lot of talk about Arles-Avignon bringing in a lot of new players from around the world. Most of them are average at best in the leagues they came from. And if the team is basically “new”, how can the team create chemistry amongst the players? Arles was a disaster from the start.

Prediction: Nancy wins 3-1.
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Can big teams get back on track? Matchday 5 Saturday Preview

Well, three computers later, it looks like I might actually be able to get some previews up for today’s games.

So far this season, the matches haven’t gone as planned. Marseille is the highest ranked Champions League team at 10th place, Auxerre is in the relegation zone, and Lyon has had quite boring matches so far. On the other hand, Toulouse continue to top the table. No matter what happens today, Toulouse will continue to top the table. Sochaux and St. Etienne, favorites for being relegated, are in 4th and 5th place. And Montpellier, who most expected to fall this season, continue their form from last season as well.


AJ Auxerre  
 / 
  SM Caen

Auxerre has been in this position before. Last year, Auxerre started off as one of the worse teams in Ligue 1. And, eventually, they were able to climb their way up to third spot. Still, with draws against average teams this season and a loss to Monaco, Auxerre has to worry about their current form, especially before starting Champions League play.

SM Caen is easily one of the most impressive teams so far this season. Some, including myself, have considered Caen as the “next Montpellier”. Still, with some of the injuries that they have, we expect them to eventually fall back down to Earth.
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Is Caen in trouble? Brest catching up.

Steeven Langil: Can't handle cold weather.

Sixteen matches into the Ligue 2 season, SM Caen looked destined to return back to the top flight of French football. They had a ten point lead over the second place team going into matchday seventeen. That was a better record than Bordeaux had over it’s closest rivals in Ligue 1 during the same period.

But now Caen is only three points ahead of their closest rival for the Ligue 1 title, Brest.

Have Caen lost it? Are they starting to fall. Are Brest just playing better? Well, it is kind of a mixture of both.

Still, this was a point that the team knew that the would eventually come to. Caen’s captain Nicolas Seube said back in September “ ”We must remain vigilant because the success can turn at any moment. Regarding the quality of play, there are still gaps,” said Seube.

First, lets look at Caen. They started off the season on fire. After dropping their first match to Sedan, they went on a twelve game unbeaten streak. In that span, Caen pulled off some impressive wins Nantes and Arles Avignon. Then they hit a snag, with a 2-0 loss to Brest on the road. Still, after that defeat, Caen picked up the pieces and tried to put their season back on track with another string of impressive wins, including a 4-0 win away to Nimes and a 2-0 win at home to Le Havre.
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