OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's looking at Caen v Lyon and Montpellier v Marseille.
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.
Caen v Lyon (Sun 4pm)
Lyon travel to Caen on Sunday after a huge upset at home against strugglers Lille in midweek. Lyon were the in-form team along with PSG and Marseille and no one expected them to be beaten by Lille at home.
But l’OL were not clinical enough and Lille rode their luck to win the match. Now Lyon, who lost their second place in the table to Marseille, have to react at Caen which is a tough place to go to this season.
Lyon had only lost once in Ligue 1 all season, away at PSG, prior to the game against the LOSC so it was a huge upset and disappointment. The players and the manager bruno Genesio are now ready to bounce back but they expect a difficult game. Nabil Fekir played on Wednesday despite being ill and he is feeling better now so he should be better. Bertrand Traoré is still out injured on the right and Maxwell Cornet is expected to start.
Lyon will play in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Mariano Diaz scored again on Wednesday. He has now 11 Ligue 1 goals. Lyon will rely on him once again to lead the attack. Lyon have been very good away from home this season with just one loss, in Paris, for four wins and two draws. But Lyon don’t have a good record away at Caen with just one win and four defeats in their last five visits!
Caen are having a great season so far. They are sixth in the table and have been very solid and hard to play against, especially at home where they won five games for one draw and two losses. They have two key players back in Kouakou and Da Silva for this game. With a win, they would come back just three points behind Monaco in the table!
Caen will be very confident and motivated as well to get at least a point out of this big game. They will be cautious tactically and will make sure to not be too exposed defensively.
- Caen 1, Lyon 1 (6-1, Unibet)
- Santini to score first (6-1, Unibet)
- Draw and both teams to score (18-5, Unibet)
Montpellier v Marseille (Sun 8pm)
Marseille travel to in-form Montpellier on Sunday evening. Marseille have snatched second place in the table after their win at Metz on Wednesday. They are now two points clear of Lyon and Monaco but still 10 behind the leaders PSG.
They are now unbeaten in 10 league matches, since losing at home to Rennes (3-1) back in September. The team has been in great form and Rudi Garcia has managed his players very well too. Luis Gustavo in midfield has been exceptional for Marseille in terms of leadership but also in his performances, with four goals in his last six matches. He has provided great protection for the back four as well.
The other key player for this team is Florian Thauvin. He was decisive in the last two matches and was excellent again Metz in midweek. He is almost unstoppable at the moment and his confidence is really high. Marseille are playing great and winning without a striker, as Mitroglou is struggling for form. He could be dropped on Sunday and replaced by Valère Germain.
Marseille could play in a 4-3-3 formation to be more solid. Marseille have a good record away at Montpellier although each team enjoy this fixture. They have won three and lost two in their last five visits.
Montpellier are currently seventh in the table after a very good last couple of months. They have been strong defensively and they posses the best defence in the league at the moment with only eight goals conceded in their 15 top-flight matches so far.
Montpellier play with a back five which has made them really solid and their two wing backs, Roussillon and Aguilar, are in great form. They don’t always take their chances but they are hard to play against.