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 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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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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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 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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French Cup “Team of the Round” for Round of 64.

Every week in many competitions, there is usually a “Team of the Week”. And starting this weekend with the Ligue 1 matches, we will be doing a “Ligue 1 Team of the Week”. And since French Cup action just concluded, we would like to do a Round of 64 Team as well. Of course, with so many teams playing this past weekend, one can easily argue for a number of players. Still, here is Ligue 1 Talk’s “Team of the Round of 64″.
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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 recap.

Fabien, welcome back!

Fifty-two minutes into the Paris St. Germain vs. Monaco match, one wouldn’t be surprised if talk about erecting a bronze statue in the middle of the Champs de Mars far Nene was spreading around the Parc Des Princes. But after a late goal by Daniel Niculae, Monaco were able to grab a valuable point on the road, which assures that The Principality won’t drop to the bottom three in the league.

Going into this match, PSG were the expected favorites. And if you were to look at their play, they dominated the much weaker Monaco side. In addition, Nene continued to show that he can score goals from anywhere, especially in long-range situations. With his two goals in this match, Nene is now tied with Moussa Sow for the Ligue 1 lead in goals scored at thirteen.

Still, even with Paris holding on two a 2-1 lead late in the match, their lack of concentration led to the game tying goal by Monaco. After Stephane Sessegnon went down to injury, referee Lionel Jeffredo continued play even with Sessegnon down. During this time, Monaco moved the ball into the PSG third of the pitch, where they caught the home side napping, mostly because many of their players were expecting the whistle to blow due to the Sessegnon injury. This led to Daniel Niculae sneaking in and score the game-tying goal.

After the match, both Guy Lacombe and Antoine Kombouare were yelling at one another in the tunnel. Sylvain Armand also had a bit of a “discussion” with Jeffredo. Still, while Jeffredo should have blown the whistle, PSG should have continued to play, which they did not. They deserved this loss.
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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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