OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's looking at Lyon v Montpellier and Bordeaux 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.
Lyon v Montpellier (Sun 4pm)
Two weeks after hammering St Etienne away in the 115th Rhone Derby (5-0), Lyon are back in action this time at home against Montpellier on Sunday afternoon.
They have won their last six matches in all competitions, their best run for almost twenty years. They are in great form and full of confidence. The front four of Nabil Fekir, Mariano Diaz, Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traoré are on fire.
Fekir has now 11 goals and four assists in 11 league matches this season but he is suspended this weekend which is a huge blow for the team. The Lyon 4-2-3-1 is working perfectly and 19-year-old Houssem Aouar is having his breakthrough season in the first team with some great performances in midfield.
Apart from Fekir suspended, manager Bruno Genesio has no injury concerns before this game. He will have a lot of depth to pick from his squad. The grass has been changed after the rugby match between France and New Zealand in midweek, so it will be a brand new pitch which will help the home side and the football they play. Lyon are still unbeaten at home this season in Ligue 1 (four wins and two draws).
Montpellier have the best defence in Ligue 1 this season along with leaders Paris, so it will be a contrast against Lyon, the third best attack in Ligue 1 so far. They have only won once in Lyon in their last seven visits. But Montpellier have been excellent against top teams this season with a draw against PSG (0-0) at home and away at Monaco (1-1) while also beating Nice (2-0).
They will defend with a back five once again, which works so well this season, and will play on the counter-attack a lot. I don’t think it will be enough to beat Lyon, though, who are so good. Memphis Depay will score first at 5.40. My best bet is Lyon to win both halves at 3.15.
- Lyon 3, Montpellier 1 (13-2, Unibet)
- Diaz to score first (16-5, Unibet)
- Lyon to win both halves (43-20, Unibet)
Bordeaux v Marseille (Sun 8pm)
This is the big game of the weekend in Ligue 1 on Sunday evening as the rivalry between Bordeaux and Marseille goes back a very long way. There are always great matches between those two clubs and it should be the case once again this weekend.
Bordeaux are going through a bad patch and have fallen to ninth in the table. They have to bounce back at home, especially in such a big game. Marseille on the other hand are on a good run of results with nine games domestically without a loss. They are now fourth in the table after this great run.
The club parted ways with Patrice Evra last week after his incident with the fans but the team won’t be weakened by his departure. Luis Gustavo, their best player this season with Florian Thauvin, is suspended which is a huge blow for the team. They are not the same without him. Manager Rudi Garcia should recall Maxime Lopez in midfield to replace him with Anguissa and Sanson.
Up front, Kostas Mitroglou should start even if his form lately has been poor. Thauvin will be Marseille’s main asset once again on Sunday evening. Dimitri Payet is back from injury but should sit on the bench at the start of the game. Marseille have a good record away this season with four wins, one draw and one loss so far.
But Bordeaux have been good at home as well with three wins, one draw and only one defeat too. Marseille have a terrible record away at Bordeaux where they have not won since 1977. Despite a good start of the season, they have been terrible lately, not winning a game since the end of September. The club’s chairman has asked for a reaction from the team in front of a sell-out crowd on Sunday. I think Bordeaux will react and beat Marseille once more.