OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and today he's looking at Lyon's trip to Metz and Marseille v Montpellier.
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.
Metz v Lyon (Sun 4pm)
Lyon, currently fourth in the table but just two points behind Marseille in third and 10 off Monaco in second, are on a good run of form with three wins in a row now in Ligue 1.
With Marseille having a tough game this weekend, this is a good opportunity for Bruno Genesio and his players to get points against the team bottom of the table.
It won’t be easy but Lyon are clear favourites. They have their striker Mariano Diaz back from suspension after missing the win against Toulouse last weekend (2-0). However, Nabil Fekir is still out injured and his absence has been a huge blow for Lyon. Without him they will play in their usual 4-3-3 formation. Memphis Depay scored twice last weekend and has been really impressive at times this season.
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Lyon are still hoping they can catch Marseille and Monaco but they will need to finish the season on a real high and probably win their remaining seven league games. They have a good record away at Metz with a 3-0 win there last season and only two losses in their last nine visits there.
For the home side, time is running out now to stay up. They will need a mini miracle to still be in Ligue 1 next season. They are seven points clear of the playoffs place now and they desperately need a win at the weekend. They will be up for it, hoping that Nolan Roux, their top scorer with 12 goals, will be in top form. However, I fear that Lyon will be too strong for Metz.
- Metz 1, Lyon 3 (19-2, Unibet)
- Depay to score first (23-5, Unibet)
- Lyon to win both halves (49-20, Unibet)
Marseille v Montpellier (Sun 8pm)
Marseille host Montpellier on Sunday evening at the Stade Vélodrome, three days after their trip to Germany to face RB Leipzig in the Europa League. Marseille are playing every three days at the moment and are struggling to cope with the physical demands of such a schedule.
On Sunday, they will be without Steve Mandanda in goal and Adil Rami at the back. Rolando, their other first choice centre back and Florian Thauvin, their best attacking player this season, should be back on Sunday. L’OM will play again on Thursday in the second leg against Leipzig and they will surely be tired on Sunday against Montpellier.
They earned a late win at Dijon last weekend to stay two points clear of Lyon in third place. They have not lost hope of catching reigning champions Monaco in second who now have an eight-point lead. With all his key players injured and out, manager Rudi Garcia will have to do some tinkering once again, especially in defence.
Marseille have only won two of their last five league matches but they have a great record against Montpellier at home with just two losses in the 25 encounters between them both at the Vélodrome. The visitors were beaten 5-1 in Marseille last season for example but they are travelling to the south east in great form with only one defeat in their last nine league matches, against Lyon.
They are still solid defensively and are very much in the fight for fifth place in the table. Manager Michel Der Zakarian has almost all his squad available for this big game. Montpellier are confident they can cause problems to Marseille. I think they will get a point.