OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's casting his eye over Sunday's Angers v Lyon clash as well as Nice 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 appears on BT Sport's European Football Show every Sunday as well as contributing to unibet.
Angers v Lyon (4pm, Sun)
Lyon travel to Angers on Sunday on the back of yet another disappointing performance in midweek. They only drew with Atalanta at home (1-1) in the Europa League on Thursday and the display was, again, not good enough.
Lyon have not won any of their last four matches in all competitions. They are only 7th in the table and are struggling defensively at times and offensively, they are not working as a team.
Their striker Mariano Diaz, who signed from Real Madrid in the summer, is too one dimensional for the team and he doesn’t offer enough movement. Nabil Fekir, the captain and playmaker of the team, is trying hard to make the difference but he is too individual at times and can’t do everything by himself either. Overall, the players have to do more and to give more.
Last week, Lyon drew 3-3 at home with Dijon. Manager Bruno Genesio is under more and more pressure and things have to improve or he will get sacked soon. He could make some changes with Memphis Depay, Jordan Ferri or Marçal coming in the team for Aouar, Tousart and Mendy.
Lyon have a good record away at Angers, with two wins in their last two visits but this is still a tricky game for as Angers who are really tough to play at their ground.
Angers are 11th in the table. They are well organised and the players work hard for each other and for the team. They got a good draw away from home at Nice last weekend (2-2) after being 2-0 up as well.
They will fancy facing a Lyon which has lost confidence. I think Angers will make it very hard for Lyon. It will be a draw with Karl Toko Ekambi scoring first at 13-2 at Unibet. My best bet is a draw and both teams to score at 17-2.
The odds are in favour of Lyon with an away win at 13-10. A draw is at 12-5 and an Angers home win is at 23-10.
- Ekambi to score first (13-2, Unibet)
- Draw and both teams to score at (17-5, Unibet)
- Angers 1, Lyon 1 (6-1, Unibet)
Nice v Marseille (8pm, Sun)
This is the big game of the weekend in Ligue 1. The Mediterranean derby on Sunday evening between Nice and Marseille is going to be huge. The rivalry between the two clubs and the two set of fans is one of the biggest in French football.
Nice started the season slowly but since moving to a 4-4-2 formation have done much better, both in the league and in Europe. They are ninth in the table in Ligue 1 and have won two in two in Europe. Mario Balotelli and Alassane Plea are both in good form up front.
Plea scored two on Thursday in Nice’s great win against Vitesse in the Europa League. Jean-Michael Seri, who missed the draw against Angers last weekend (2-2) but came back against Vitesse, will be the key player in midfield for this game once again.
Defensively, Nice have looked a bit shaky at times. Marlon is still doubtful at the back so Danté and Le Marchand could start. Allan Saint Maximim will be a big threat for Marseille with his pace on the right-hand side of the 4-4-2.
Wesley Sneijder, however, should not feature as he is not totally ready physically yet and is not really suited to play in the 4-4-2 either. Nice are on top in the recent derbies against Marseille at home – three wins and a draw in their last four encounters.
For the visitors this is another big game after yet another disappointing performance on Thursday against RB Salzburg. L’OM lost 1-0 but were poor from start to finish.
After three wins in a row in all competitions, and a convincing victory against Toulouse last weekend (2-0) in the league, this new setback is not good for Rudi Garcia.
Some of his choices were wrong again on Thursday. He will change a few things for this Nice clash and come back to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Jordan Amavi should replace Patrice Evra at left-back, Lucas Ocampos and Clinton Njie could come back in the team as well. Kostas Mitroglou, the Greek striker, signed from Benfica in the summer, made his debut on Thursday. He is not totally fit yet but he will be at least on the bench on Sunday.
I think this is going to be an open game with lots of goals. For me, Nice will win.