OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's looking at Lyon's trip to Amiens and Marseille v St Etienne.
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.
Amien v Lyon (Sun 2pm)
Lyon travel to Amiens on Sunday after a disappointing performance and result away at Atalanta in midweek in the Europa League. Lyon were beaten (1-0) which is their second loss in their last three matches in all competition.
They are not as good going forward since the injury to Bertrand Traoré, who is out until the new year. On Thursday, Maxwell Cornet also picked up an injury which means that manager Bruno Genesio is running out of options to play on the right hand side.
Houssem Aouar might start there but is not good in that position. Nabil Fekir is also not shining as much as he was a month ago, when he was unstoppable. So, Lyon will have to find a way to beat this Amiens side and get back to their best level as well.
It will be a fascinating battle to finish second between Lyon, Marseille and Monaco. L’OL have been good away from home this season with five wins, two draws and just one loss.
They have won their last four away Ligue 1 matches. So they won’t fear travelling to newly promoted Amiens on Sunday. It will be the first ever encounter in the French top flight between them although Lyon drew 0-0 in Amiens back in 1950 while in the second division and won there in the League Cup in 2001 (2-0).
The home side are ninth in the table and only lost to Rennes last weekend (2-0) after a run of eight games without a defeat in all competitions. They are playing good, direct football and defend well as well as being physical too. They are difficult to play against and they will give Lyon a good game. Gael Kakuta, the former Chelsea player, has been excellent for them this season. I still think Lyon will win though.
- Amiens 1, Lyon 2 (7-1, Unibet)
- Diaz to score first (37-10, Unibet)
- Lyon win and both teams to score (23-10, Unibet)
Marseille v St Etienne (Sun 8pm)
This is the big game in Ligue 1 this weekend. There is a big rivalry between the two clubs and the two sets of fans. Marseille have been disappointing in their last two matches with two 0-0 draws, away at Montpellier last weekend in Ligue 1 and at home to RB Salzburg in the Europa League on Thursday.
The players look a bit tired despite Rudi Garcia’s rotation. The manager is using the depth of his squad as much as possible but physically the Marseillais are still struggling a bit. They will need to be back to their best on Sunday though.
Florian Thauvin, their best player this season, missed the Europa League game because of a little calf problem but he should be back on Sunday. Marseille are not the same without him. He has carried them at times this season and they will need him on Sunday. Dimitri Payet was rested in midweek but he should also be back. However, he is far from his best at the moment.
Luis Gustavo has been immense for l’OM this season in midfield. His leadership is great and he has been leading the line as well. Marseille are fighting for second place and will need to get maximum points at home to do that. The players are well up for this game. Marseille have an amazing home league record against St Etienne. They have not lost against them at the Velodrome since 1979!
The visitors, currently 12th in the table, are going through a really difficult time, especially since changing managers. Julien Sablé has arrived but there has not been a positive effect yet under him. They are yet to win since he became their manager. Their last win in all competitions was back in October 14th against bottom of the table Metz. They are struggling to defend and to score goals.
There are tensions in the dressing room as well. The captain Loic Perrin is out injured and I don’t think St Etienne will be able to get anything from this game.