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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Ligue 1 Matchday 34 Preview: Are there some big games this weekend?

Going into this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches, everyone can see the one big match that will be looming over all other matches, which is Sunday night’s heavyweight match between Lyon and Marseille, now termed the Olympico.

But of course, there are a number of other matches that will be going on that will have just as much of an impact on what could happen in the Ligue 1 season as the big OL vs. OM match does. Therefore, lets take a brief look at the upcoming weekend.

Lille is the team that is current leading the league. Luckily for them, they will be playing Nancy on the road. Nancy, a team that many people expect (and, sadly, want) to be relegated to Ligue 2 this season. They will be fighting for the Ligue 1 lives against the championship front-runners. Unfortunately for Nancy, Lille have the second best road record in Ligue 1. True, they will be missing the services of Yohan Cabaye, but his absence shouldn’t hurt them against an opponent that they should easily defeat. And if Lille is able to grab a valuable three points while both OL and OM are slugging it out (which could end in a draw), they could truly make this a two-horse race for the Ligue 1 title.

In other matches, a number of teams vying for the final Europa League spots will be squaring off against one another.

One of those matches will be Lorient hosting Toulouse. Both teams are coming off positive wins. And while Toulouse’s 2-0 win against Lyon might look more impressive than Lorient’s come-from-behind victory at Lens, they are still coming off a high nonetheless. For Lorient, Kevin Gameiro, who was looking like he might have slowed down about a month ago, is showing that he is back and with full force. But what will hurt Gameiro is that Toulouse’s defense looks to be back as well.
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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 21 Preview

 

Now that Auxerre is healthy, they have no excuses.

Sandwiched in between French Cup rounds, we do still have a another match day of Ligue 1 games. And while this week looks pretty open and shut, in the world of Ligue 1, anything can happen. With a number of upsets already this year, we can expect there to be at least a few, since most of the matches have clear favorites. So, what to watch for this week:

 

The Upsets – Like I just mentioned, there are a number of underdogs going against teams that should easily dominate them. To expect all of the favorites to win this weekend would be crazy. But, of course, it could happen. With the exception of Arles hosting PSG, anything can happen in any match. Like the French Cup, don’t be surprised it we see a number of upsets.
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Paris FC pulls off major upset in French Cup, defeat Toulouse FC 2-1.

Going into this match, everyone knew the situation. This was a rematch of the 2008 French Cup match between Toulouse and Paris FC. In that match, PFC came into the Stadium Municipal and shocked the footballing world with a 2-1 win on the road.

Therefore, everyone was wondering if Paris FC would be able to repeat this feat again. Well, they did, and by the exact same score of 2-1 at the Stadium Municipal.

The match started off like any another other match which pits two teams that play on different levels. The more talent-filled team in Toulouse put on the pressure early, pushing the ball to the Paris end of the pitch. Still, Toulouse weren’t able to get any quality chances on goal. Fode Mansare did have a few chances on the left side, but he didn’t have any support from his teammates.

As the match wore on, Paris started to relax and find their grove. With Toulouse being one of the best defensive teams in Ligue 1, it would be hard to find a weakness. Luckily for Paris, they were able to find a weakness in Mohamed Fofana, who committed a number of errors, including one which lead to the first goal scored by Paris. As Fofana was trying to defend Youssouf Toure, he fell, giving Toure an open shot on goal which put Paris up 1-0.
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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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Ligue 1 Matchday 18: What did we learn?

Ligue 1...watch...and learn! (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Another week of Ligue 1 action gone, and it is only a one day break until we have our last matches of 2010, starting with Lorient against Montpellier, which should be really interesting. So, what did we learn in Matchday 18?

1. Nene is the best player in Ligue 1 – Yes, PSG did draw against Monaco, which really seems like a loss to most PSG supporters, but the play of Nene was simply stellar! He has an amazingly accurate shot, as well as being able to nail goals at long-range. It just seems like whatever he touches turns into gold.

But still, even with Nene playing well, PSG seems to be playing better as a collective group. Except for the 10 or so seconds of collapse during their match against Monaco, where Stephane Sessegnon went down to injury and the PSG players lost concentration, they looked great in their match. The only question still seems to be the goalkeeping, and if Edel is their man. Even with that being said, Nene is easily making a statement for being the Ligue 1 Player of the Year. And should we really be surprised? It seems that everyone forgot that Nene was one of the leading scorers last year. And with scoring 14 goals last year, he will easily eclipse that this year, as he is only one-off that total at 13. Could he score 30 this year? We shall see.
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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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