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 Preview for 8th-6th.

With the list getting shorter, the previews will also get shorter before we get to the top team. So here are my predictions for 8th, 7th and 6th.

8th – Sochaux: When making this prediction, I am wondering if I might be putting Sochaux a little higher than they deserve to be. Yes, last year they were able to pull off a shocking 5th place finish in the Ligue 1 standings, which nobody saw coming. But if you look at the talent on their team, it isn’t a surprise. Yes, some of the players were passively observed in the past, but now we know their names by heart.

But looking at the summer, it seems as if Sochaux had a few blows. First of all, Jacques Faty left, which we all expected. Still, even with Faty’s departure, Sochaux should still be able to cope. He was injured during the last few matches of the season, but the team was still able to play some strong football without him.

In addition to Faty’s departure, Ideye Brown as also left the team for Dynamo Kyiv, where he has made an immediate impact, with four goals in two matches. Ideye was easily one of last year’s surprises, scoring 15 goals last season. Still, with Ideye’s departure, Václav Svěrkoš is returning from a loan deal and should be able to help Sochaux up front.
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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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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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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 II (Monaco to Valenciennes).

A Sessegnon move to St. Etienne the best option (Reuters)?

We are continuing our quick “needs list” from the other day with the rest of the teams, starting with Monaco.

Monaco – Easily, Monaco has to be one of the biggest upsets of the season. Yes, they do miss Nene, but they still should be a decent mid-table team. Still, one seriously has to wonder if the organization really thought that Daniel Niculae could provide Monaco with the same offensive success as Nene. Yes, he is a solid player, but really?

Anyway, Monaco seems to have some major problems with both their midfield and up front. Their midfield is sub par, though they do have a few players like Nampalys Mendy, who seems to have a bright future. Also, offensively, Chu Young Park really needs to find both some midfield and up front support, so that he isn’t the only one producing offensive chances. Therefore, finding some good, solid forwards and midfielders should be Monaco’s priority. If they don’t build their team now, they might lose some quality players. While Park has a contract extension until 2013, Ruffier’s contract expires in the summer.

Montpellier – During the off-season, many were wondering if the Costa-Montano tandem could be replaced by the Estrada-Giroud pair. And even with a few injuries this season, these two players have been able to work well together. True, they aren’t at the level of Costa-Montano, but they have the potential.
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Transfers : Is Rennes ready to attack?

From our friends at State Rennais Online:

Decimated by the late departures of Bangoura and Gyan last summer, the Rennes attack needs reconstruction this winter, in order to keep on hoping for European places at the end of the season. Waiting for attacking reinforcements, Frédéric Antonetti hopes the arrival of two additional forwards. Will his wish be realised? Here is a summary of the rumours published over the last few months in the media.

Denni Avdić (IF Elfsborg, Sweden)

- Forward
- 22 y/o, 1m93, 80kg
- Contracted until June 2011

Recently a Swedish international, Denni Avdić has been attracting the attention of scouts after piling goal after goal for Elfsborg, a team he joined four years ago. A very promising player in his adoptive country, recruiters are now rushing to try and sign last year’s Allsvenskan best goal scorer (19 goals). Rennes is believed to have been following the lanky player, whose style is reminiscent of Zlatan Ibrahimović’s, since many months, but some second level English clubs have apparently been in touch with his entourage since. A competition which could end the rumour, unless Avdić ended up choosing a challenge in Rennes, as some of his illustrious fellow countrymen did before him (Edman, Källström, Isaksson). But what will the price be?

Demba Ba (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Germany)

- Striker
- 25 y/o, 1.90 m, 82 kg
- Contracted until June 2011

Already targeted by Rennes a few years ago, de Demba Ba’s name has been returning lately as a possible reinforcement to Stade Rennes’ attacking line. However, there are major doubts on the possibility to achieve this transfer. First because the player is one of the best recognized forwards in Bundesliga (twenty five goals in sixty seven games) but also because of the tough competition with English teams, Aston Villa in particular. And no need to argue, Rennes doesn’t belong to the same category as the English giants. Closed case for the former Rouen player?
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Ligue 1 Matchday 19: What did we learn?

Last time the top French league was this close, this man was President.

Well, the first half of the season is over, and there is a lot that we can go over. But, for now, we will just do a our weekly recap of “what did we learn” in another unpredictable match day of Ligue 1 play. Also, this is the last one that we will be doing in 2010.

As you know, it will be nearly a month before Ligue 1 starts again. During this time, we will be working on previews of the French Cup competition, which will start shortly after the New Year. We will also be continuing our “Best French Logo” contest. Round 2 will be today, and we will have a few big names in this round.

So, what did we learn (and forgive me if this might be a little “PSG heavy”).

1. This Ligue 1 season, anyone can win it – From 1st Lille to 10th place Montpellier, there is only a five point gap. So, in what season did we see the top 10 teams this close? Let me give you some hints. During this football season:

  • France Gall would win Eurovision with ”Poupée de cire, poupée de son”
  • Rolling Stones start their 2nd US Tour, Beatles hold all Top 5 Billboard spots in US.
  • Graham Hill wins his third Monaco Grand Prix.
  • The Maple Leaf becomes Canada’s official flag.
  • Harold Wilson becomes British PM, Lyndon Johnson elected US President.
  • Bordeaux leads the Ligue 1 standings, Lyon 3rd, Marseille not even in the top flight.

Therefore, it has been a long time (1964-65 season). And with how unpredictable play is, it is really anyone’s championship to win. Oh, and Nantes won that year.
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