Montpellier v Lyon: Ligue 1 Preview – Week 33
This weekend’s fixtures open with a match between Montpellier and Lyon at the Stade de la Mosson. It’s a capital match for both teams for differing reasons and has the added attraction that they both welcome back returning heroes.
Montpellier have been battling around the bottom quarter of the table all season and – despite only three defeats in 10 matches since Frédéric Hantz was appointed coach in late January – La Paillade remain fifth from bottom and only four points clear of the drop zone. The team’s March was mixed, following up an impressive draw at the Parc des Princes with two straight defeats, at home to Nice and away to Saint-Etienne. But last week’s draw at relegation rivals Guingamp, in which the team came from behind twice to ensure their opponents didn’t get away from them in the table, was a good response.
No doubt about the feel-good story of the Guingamp match, as Morgan Sanson’s well-taken brace showed that he may be ready to put an injury-ravaged year behind him. This week’s positive return is goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren, who has been out since August with a shoulder injury, but is set to start this weekend. Daniel Congré and top scorer Casimir Ninga are also back after sitting out last week through suspension, but Kévin Bérigaud and Mathieu Deplagne are out, injured.
Lyon’s hard-fought 3-1 win at Lorient last week (ruining les Mérlus’ 90th birthday celebrations in the process), allied to Monaco’s surprise loss to Bordeaux, means that les Gônes are now only three points off second place. Monaco face in-form Lille while Rennes and Nice, one and two points behind Lyon respectively, meet each other, so Lyon will look to take advantage with a least one rival due to drop points.
Lyon’s recent form has been good and the team is unbeaten in its last five matches. However, the Lorient win was only their fifth on their travels this season (their previous away trip was the 2-2 draw at Rennes, where Bruno Genesio’s men threw away a two-goal lead).
Talking of form, Alexandre Lacazette (six goals in the last four matches) and Rachid Ghezzal (three goals and three assists in the last four) are two of the sharpest players in Ligue 1 in 2016 and may be supported by Mathieu Valbuena who made an impressive substitute cameo last week, providing an assist. More importantly, however, Friday evening will see the return to the squad of Nabil Fekir for the first time since the serious knee injury sustained on international duty in September. Jeremy Morel and Aldo Kalulu, however, miss out.
Four of the last five fixtures between these two teams have featured six goals – whatever the result, hopefully that free-scoring form will continue.
Prediction: Montpellier 2-2 Lyon
LIGUE 1 PREDICTIONS