OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's looking at Toulouse v PSG and Angers against Monaco.
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.
Toulouse v PSG (Sat 4pm)
Paris, 11 points clear of Marseille in second place, will have their minds on the Champions League game against Madrid on Wednesday. However, they want to use this game as a rehearsal before their trip to the Bernabeu and will take this trip to Toulouse very seriously.
Unai Emery will start a team very close, if not even identical, to the one that will start in Madrid on Wednesday. Angel Di Maria has been Paris’ best player in 2018 but Kylian Mbappé should start ahead of him both on Saturday and on Wednesday. Adrien Rabiot is back from injury and will be available for this game against Toulouse. Emery has all his players available then, as Thiago Motta and Julian Draxler are not also fit. Neymar didn’t feature in midweek in the win against Sochaux in the French Cup but he will be back this weekend.
Paris have great confidence and momentum going into this game. They also have a good record in Toulouse despite a surprising defeat there last season. Before that game, they hadn’t lost there since 2009. With all their strength, Paris will be very hard to beat.
New Toulouse manager Mickael Debeve has prepared a special plan to defend against Neymar, who has been on fire in the last few games. But Toulouse will struggle to cope with all the offensive power their opponent offers. The TFC have won their last two matches with Debeve and have been much more organised and effective. They rode their luck a bit but Max-Alain Gradel has been a star for them. However, I think PSG will win.
- Toulouse 0, PSG 3 (6-1, Unibet)
- Mbappe to score first (33-10, Unibet)
- PSG to win both halves (33-25, Unibet)
Angers v Monaco (Sat 7pm)
Monaco, who got a last-minute win against Lyon last weekend, travel to Angers on Saturday evening. They are now third in the table in a very tight battle with Marseille and Lyon to finish second.
Their victory against l’OL was a huge boost, especially at 10 against 11 when Keita Baldé was sent off just before half time. The Senegalese international is suspended for this game, while Radamel Falcao is out injured. Which means that Monaco only have Stevan Jovetic available as a striker, with 16-year old new signing Pietro Pellegri.
So, Monaco are very weakened offensively going into this game. However, they have Thomas Lemar back. The French international missed the last four games in all competitions and his team really missed him. He is fully fit now and should start on Saturday. Djibril Sidibe is also back at right back after missing the Lyon game through illness.
Monaco didn’t play in midweek as they were already out of the French Cup. They need to build on the momentum from their win against l’OL to go into a very good run of results. They usually do well in Angers, despite losing there two seasons ago. They are always tough games but Monaco know how to approach them. The current French champions have not been very good away from home this season (five wins, three draws and three losses) but they are confident going into this game.
Times are far more difficult for Angers at the moment. They are only 16th in the table but still very close to the bottom three. They need points but they have struggled all season against the top teams. Karl Toko Ekambi is their best player and top scorer but he can't do it all by himself. They will be quite defensive for this game but I think Monaco will get a narrow win.