OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and on Sunday he's wrapping up his weekend previews with a look at two Sunday fixtures.
Julien is a London-based sports correspondent for Le Parisien and a veritable French football expert. He writes in French and English for a number of esteemed publications and is a regular on BT Sport as well as contributing to Unibet.
Lyon v Metz (2pm)
Lyon host Metz on Sunday afternoon after a run of three consecutive wins in all competitions. L’OL have been excellent against Monaco (3-2), Everton (2-1) and Troyes (5-0) and want to keep their winning run going.
So this is an important game to gather even more momentum before the return clash with Everton on Thursday and then the Rhone derby away at St Etienne next weekend.
Lyon are back in fourth place in the table, just three points behind Monaco in second. They are unbeaten at home this season in Ligue 1, with three wins and two draws against Dijon and Bordeaux, each finishing 3-3!
They have been a very spectacular team and they should be scoring lots again on Sunday against bottom of the table Metz, who sacked their manager last Sunday.
Lyon are huge favourite and but they take this game for granted. They will face a very defensive team but the players are high on confidence.
Nabil Fekir is back after having missed the Troyes game and the team should go back to the 4-2-3-1 formation with him behind the striker Mariano Diaz. Fekir has been outstanding this season and it is a big boost to have him back.
Metz have been the worst team in Ligue 1 this season, with just one win and nine losses so far. But their only win was away from home at Angers.
They have the second worst defence in the league with 19 goals conceded already and have only scored five! They are yet to appoint a new manager and it will be a long and difficult afternoon in Lyon on Sunday. I think the home side will win easily.
- Correct score: Lyon 3, Metz 0 (7-1, Unibet)
- First scorer: Fekir (16-5, Unibet)
- Lyon to win both halves (23-20, Unibet)
Lille v Marseille (8pm)
Marcelo Bielsa, the Lille manager, faces his old club Marseille. The visitors almost beat PSG last weekend, drawing in the dying seconds of the game.
But their plan was perfect and they almost got their rewards with a famous win. They need to build on that performance now and this game is very important for them.
Marseille are currently fourth in the table, four points behind Monaco in second. They need some consistency in their results and start a series of wins.
Jordan Amavi is suspended, which is a big loss for Marseille, so Patrice Evra should start at left-back despite being terrible every time he has played this season. He will be Marseille’s weakness on Sunday.
Dimitri Payet is also out, which is another big blow for l’OM. He is their captain and number 10. Manager Rudi Garcia could change his 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-3-3 to adapt to Payet’s absence, with Sanson or Lopez coming in midfield.
Or Garcia could decide to start with two strikers up front in Germain and Mitroglou. Marseille have quite a good record recently away at Lille, with only three losses in their last ten visits.
The confidence is high now after the result against Paris and the players don’t want it to be a fluke. They really want to build on it. The pressure will be on Marseille, as always but also on Lille.
The home side has to win this game. They are 19th in the table with just two wins in the league this season. Marcelo Bielsa is struggling to get his players to play well and his team to win.
It has been a really difficult start to the campaign. There are tensions between the manager and some of the players as well and a win against Marseille will cure a lot of issues and bring new momentum to the team and the club.
Bielsa could start with a back three once again. Lille have been struggling to score all season. They have scored only six goals and conceded 14. But Bielsa is not giving up and sees this game as a turning point in the season. I think Lille will give Marseille a good game and that they will beat them. Bielsa will know how to beat his former team.