OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's looking at two big Sunday games.
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.
Bordeaux v Lyon (Sun 4pm)
Lyon travel to Bordeaux on Sunday afternoon after a fantastic week for them. They first beat PSG last Sunday in the league right at the end of the game (2-1) and then they won their French Cup tie away at Monaco in midweek (2-1) despite resting some key players like Nabil Fekir or Houssem Aouar.
Lyon are currently second in the table, just a point clear of Marseille and two of Monaco who are facing each other on Sunday evening. So, this is a huge opportunity for l’OL to take to move further away from them both or at least one of them in the table. They are certainly full of confidence and of energy going into this game.
They were very good tactically against Paris SG and were a bit fortunate in their last two matches but still those two wins are a huge boost for the squad. Bertrand Traoré and Mariano Diaz are now back fully fit and were excellent against Monaco, both scoring.
Fekir, however, has been the star of the show for Lyon this season. He is leading by example and has been excellent. Manager Bruno Genesio will line up his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation which can evolve into a 4-3-3 formation as well. It will be Lyon’s strongest team available. Lyon’s record away at Bordeaux in the league is ok. They won three times and drew three times in their last nine away matches there. There are the best team away from home this season though with just one loss, in Paris for eight wins and one draw.
For Bordeaux, this is a huge game. It will be the first one for Gustavo Poyet, the new manager, after the sacking of Jocelyn Gourvennec. The players have trained all week with the former Chelsea midfielder who is feeling the pressure on many levels. His team is a terrible run at the moment with only two wins in their last nine games in all competitions. Bordeaux are currently 12th in the table but only four points clear of 18th place! The players have lost a lot of confidence and the team spirit is gone too.
Poyet needs to get everybody together and playing for each other. It is a tough game to start his Bordeaux career but Poyet has already brought a lot of energy and spirit to the squad. Bordeaux don’t have any key players missing and will rely once again on Malcom to guide them. However, I think Lyon will be too strong for Bordeaux. I think Nabil Fekir will score first again at 5.40. My best tip is Lyon to win and both teams to score at 3.90.
- Bordeaux 1, Lyon 2 (15-2, Unibet)
- Fekir to score first (22-5, Unibet)
- Lyon win and btts (29-10, Unibet)
Marseille v Monaco (Sun 8pm)
This is the big game of the weekend in Ligue 1. Marseille host Monaco at the Stade Velodrome in a huge Mediterranean derby on Sunday evening. The two teams are battling with Lyon as well to finish second behind PSG.
There is only one point between Monaco in fourth (46) and Marseille in third (47) while Lyon are only just a point clear of l’OM (48). It is a fascinating battle and this a new chapter in it. Marseille are doing really well at the moment with four league wins in a row now.
They are playing well at the moment despite the injury to left back Jordan Amavi and the inconsistent form of Dimitri Payet. But Valère Germain up front and Florian Thauvin on the right as well as Luis Gustavo in midfield are carrying the team. They are very solid defensively and have a lot of confidence at the moment as well.
Manager Rudi Garcia has a few options to pick from as well, especially in midfield and up front with players fighting for a place in the team. Marseille were humiliated in the reverse fixture back in September (6-1) and they want their revenge on Sunday. They have lost only once at home this season, against Rennes (3-1) and were very unlucky not to beat PSG for example (2-2). Their record against Monaco at home in the league is not the best though. They lost heavily last season (4-1) and have only won 4 out of the last 10 Monaco visits.
This is one of the shortest away trips for Monaco this season and they expect the atmosphere to be very hostile as always. The current french champions are approaching this game not in the best of form. they were beaten at home by Lyon in the French Cup in midweek (3-2) and also drew two of their last three Ligue 1 matches against Nice (2-2) and at Montpellier (0-0). The players look tired and Leonardo Jardim is trying hard tactically but is not able to find the answers he is looking for at the moment. Radamel Falcao played in midweek but will surely play again on Sunday, even if his fitness is the greatest at the moment.
He is such a key player for this team and they can’t afford not to play him. The manager also has a few players missing. Jemerson, Jorge and Diakhaby are very doubtful. Guido Carrillo has been sold to Southampton. But Danielj Subasic, rested in midweek, will come back in goal and Joao Moutinho should also start with Fabinho in midfield. This is a huge game for Monaco. They can’t afford a defeat or they would lost touch in the race for 2nd. The pressure is big on the Champions. I think Marseille, being at home, will win. Florian Thauvin will score first at 5.60. My best bet is Marseille to win and both teams to score at 3.60.