OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's looking at the Friday night game.
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.
Here Julien looks two big games on Sunday at Marseille and Montpellier.
Marseille v Nantes (Sunday, 8pm)
Marseille, who have been beaten twice in four days by PSG, host Nantes on Sunday evening at the Stade Vélodrome and need to bounce back after their latest poor performances. It is a big game for them to move on from the two 3-0 losses against arch rivals PSG in the league last weekend and in the cup in midweek.
L’OM were disappointing against the Parisians. Some of their key players, especially Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet, didn’t play well at all. Payet even missed the second game because of a knock but he should be back for this game against Nantes. Rudi Garcia made some big calls in those two games but didn’t get it right tactically as Marseille were outplayed from start to finish.
The team has to go back to winning ways to stay in the race for second. They are third in the table, two points behind Monaco but five clear of Lyon in fourth. Kostas Mitroglou is still injured.
So Valere Germain will start up front. Rudi Garcia has all his other players available. Marseille have been very good at home this season in Ligue 1 and also have a very good record against Nantes at the Velodrome where they have only lost once in Nantes’ last nine visits.
For Nantes the situation is difficult as well. They are the worst team in the league since the turn of the year with just one win for three draws and four losses in 2018. They are still sixth in the table but Montpellier overtook them in fifth and Rennes, Bordeaux and Nice are not far behind.
So they have to get a positive result on Sunday evening to boost their confidence. They were so solid defensively in the first part of the season but are struggling now. They will be without Thomasson and Diego Carlos on Sunday. However, I think they will be fresher than Marseille and will put up a big fight. I think they will get a point. I think Emiliano Sala will score first at 9.50. My best bet is a draw and both teams to score at 5.25.
- Marseille 1, Nantes 1 (13-2, Unibet)
- Emiliano Sala to score first (17-2)
- Draw and both teams to score (43-10, Unibet)
Montpellier v Lyon (Sunday, 4pm)
Lyon travel to Montpellier on Sunday afternoon. They are in crisis after being knocked out of the French Cup by Caen on Thursday (1-0) in the quarter-final. Domestically, the last few weeks have been shocking for Lyon. Since beating PSG (2-1) at the end of January they have lost three games and drawn two in the league.
They are down at fourth in the table, five points behind Marseille in third and 10 behind Monaco in second. Their manager Bruno Genesio is under huge pressure before this game at Montpellier.
His coaching has been really poor recently and he is being heavily criticised. On top of it Lyon will be without Nabil Fekir for this game as their captain and best player is still out injured.
It is a huge blow as he has been so good this season. They will have to cope without but they will be struggling to create without him. Genesio should play in a 4-3-3 formation with Houssem Aouar in midfield alongside Tousart and Ndombele. Striker Mariano Diaz has only scored once in his last five matches in all competitions.
He also seems to be struggling a bit at the moment. Defensively Lyon keep conceding goals as well. Their last clean sheet in Ligue 1 was back in mid-January! They have a good record away from home this season and have won three of their last four visits to Montpellier. However, they did lose there last season.
Montpellier have a great record against big clubs at home this season in the league. They took a point against Paris SG (0-0), Monaco (0-0) and Marseille (1-1).
They also easily beat Lyon in the League Cup last 16 back in December (4-1). They are having a great season and are fifth in the table. They will be strong defensively on Sunday as usual.
I can see another draw for Montpellier against one of the big teams. I don’t think there will be a goal. My best bet is under 1.5 goals scored at 3.50.