OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's beginning his weekend Ligue 1 previews with a look at tonight's meeting of Lyon and 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 appears on BT Sport's European Football Show every Sunday as well as contributing to unibet.
Lyon v Monaco (7.45pm)
This is the big clash of the weekend in Ligue 1 as Monaco travel to Lyon on Friday evening. The visitors are second in the table, three points behind PSG, while the hosts are only eighth after an average start.
Monaco have not won either of their last two matches in all competitions though with a heavy defeat against Porto in Europe and a disappointing draw at home against Montpellier in the league.
They need to bounce back before a crucial encounter with Besiktas in the Champions League next week. However, Leonardo Jardim will be without key players as Radamel Falcao won’t start while Stevan Jovetic is injured and Fabinho is suspended. Jemerson and Jorge came back late from Brazil after the international break so it will be a difficult game for Monaco. Thomas Lemar will start on the left but he is not 100% fit yet while Rachid Ghezzal, the former Lyon player, expects a hostile reception from the OL fans.
Monaco looked a bit jaded in their last few games and the international break, with so many players away, would not have helped either. They don’t have a good record away at Lyon despite winning there last season. It is their only victory in their last six visits in the league.
At Lyon, Bruno Genesio, the manager, is under huge pressure. He has six matches to keep his job (four in the league and two in the Europa League). His position will be reviewed after the derby against St Etienne on November 5. His choices have been criticised lately after Lyon only won one of their last five league matches.
Their centre-half Marcelo is suspended which is a huge blow. Lyon are unbeaten at home this season but dropped four points against Dijon (3-3) and Bordeaux (3-3). Their team is in better form after the international break than Monaco and the stadium will be full with a great atmosphere.
I think Lyon will beat Monaco narrowly tonight.