Ligue 1 Week 22 – Preview + Predictions
Ligue 1 continues to be as unpredictable as ever (but we try): just eight points separate Monaco in second from Nantes in 11th. Any team that can put together a string of results has a chance to qualify for European football. Angers will try again to shut out Paris Saint-Germain, giving the teams below a chance to close the gap.
Monaco host improving Toulouse, Nice face slumping Lorient, Saint-Etienne travel to struggling Reims and Rennes and Gazelec kick things off on Friday night – it should be a cracker.
EA Guingamp v SC Bastia: Saturday 19:00 – @rich_allen85
Saturday night sees a battle between two of Ligue 1’s strugglers as Guingamp host Bastia. Something must give as the home side, who haven’t won in the league since mid-November, come up against a Bastia side who have yet to win away.
It’s been worrying times in Guingamp of late as their poor run of form has seen a gap open up between them and safety. Last weekend’s game at home to Nantes only served to add to those concerns. In a comfortable 2-0 position they conceded mid-way through the second half. When it looked like they had finally done enough to secure all three points, up popped Youssef Sabaly to level things in injury time. To add insult to injury, Younousse Sankhare saw straight red at the death and will miss this game. Struggles in front of goal and problems at the back have been the issues for Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side. Only Yannis Salibur has seemingly shown enough quality on a regular basis for Guingamp with four goals and four assists.
Those brave Bastia fans who make the trek from Corsica to the mainland to follow their team have been rewarded with next to nothing this season. Four draws and six losses have been the results from their 10 away games so far. Without the fervent support of the Furiani behind them, Bastia have struggled. Only five goals in those 10 away games encapsulates why they have yet to win on the mainland. Both Francois Modesto and Seko Fofana will be absent through suspension so the pressure will be on midfielders Gael Danic and Floyd Ayite to stand up and be counted. Ayite along with goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca have been the stand-out players for the Corsicans this season and if they are to escape another relegation dogfight, that form will need to continue.
With such uneviable records at stake, it would be remiss to think this will be an entertaining game. What we will undoubtedly get is a gritty 90 minutes, plenty of tough tackles and almost certainly a red card. This will be a tight game and when looking at form this season a draw probably seems the best bet.
Stade de Reims v Saint-Etienne: Sunday 16:00 – @Gibney_A
It’s not easy being green, but it has been a good week for Saint-Etienne. Sunday night, despite a less than convincing performance, saw victory in the derby match against Lyon. Although the method brought criticism, for the fans the only thing that matters is the three points against their rivals. Wednesday’s cup victory against Ajaccio sees les Verts move into the last 16 of the Coupe de France – and now Sunday’s away game against Stade de Reims gives Christophe Galtier’s men the chance to solidify last week’s triumph and push towards the Champions League places. Consistency is the key, something they have failed to find so far this season – the talent is there, it’s now up to the players to show it.
Reims, on the other hand, are too busy looking over their shoulder to have any thoughts of what’s above them. Six games without a win for Olivier Guegan’s team. One positive for the side from the Champagne region: only once in 11 games have they failed to find the back of the net. Six goals in five at the Stade Auguste Delaune gives hope; conceding nine in the same period is the problem.
Saint-Etienne have only scored five goals in their last 10 away games – this could be a tight one, but important to what both teams want to achieve.
Galtier needs to find a way to win these types of games if he finally wants to finish in the top three.
Olympique Lyonnais v Olympique de Marseille: Sunday 20:00 – @Philby1976
After last week’s Rhone Derby where Saint-Etienne and Lyon were level on 29 points going into the game, this week’s Olympico sees Lyon and Marseille ditto, with OM ahead in the table on goal difference. Their midweeks were reasonably positive, as both progressed to the last 16 of the Coupe de France, Lyon seeing off giantkilling’s Chambly (National) with goals from Maxwell Cornet and Mathieu Valbuena, while Marseille got their first home win since November against Montpellier, goals from OG and Brice Dja Djedje.
So – call this one. OM haven’t won the away fixture since 2007/08, since when there have been three OL victories and four draws, including a chaotic 5-5 in 2009/10. In this season’s meeting at the Velodrome it ended 1-1, a penalty from Alexandre Lacazette cancelled out by a goal from Karim Rekik after Romain Alessandrini had been sent off late in the first half. OM fans might be nervous that Michy Batshuayi (still their only striker) was withdrawn late on in the cup clash apparently suffering from a knock; OL fans ditto as Lacazette played 90 minutes against 3rd tier opposition after Claudio Beauvue’s move to Celta Vigo leaves them a bit short up-front – although Cornet and Aldo Kalulu got a half each on Wednesday.
Given the attacking talent behind and around the strikers on both sides, the key thing here could be the defence, where both teams continue to have issues; Samuel Umtiti should be fit for Lyon, and Anthony Lopes OK in goal after a first-half knock in the cup match – and OM’s defence will again be largely reliant on Steve Mandanda (voted MOTM midweek with 48.5% of the vote – Georges-Kevin Nkoudou was second on 15.6%).
The respective injury lists are abating, so hopefully each coach will be able to pick his chosen, rather than simply available, eleven. Form suggests that this could come down to who can control the midfield, and a battle of the goalkeepers. Given the keepers involved, that should be well worth seeing.
With many Free Bets Online available if you shop around, we hope you can find a good deal to take advantage of this week’s tip. The FFW team are heavily predicting Nice to beat Lorient on Saturday, the away side having gone four games without a win.
Despite failing to win their last three league games and being knocked out of the Coupe de France by Trelissac, Lille are still one of the form teams in Ligue 1 at the moment. Frederic Antonetti’s team are favourites to pick up the win over Troyes on Saturday. The last one to try and help you pick up some betting bonuses, is for Saint-Etienne to pick up all three points over Stade de Reims this weekend – as stated above.
A £5 bet would win you just over £35 this weekend.