OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and after correctly calling a Lyon win with both teams scoring on Friday night he's back with a PSG preview.
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.
Montpellier v Nice (Sunday, 4pm)
Nice travel to Montpellier on Sunday and face a real test of character over there. Montpellier managed a 0-0 draw at home with PSG and also got a point away at Monaco (1-1) before the international break. They are a tough team to play against and are high on confidence after those two huge results for them.
Nice have to win to come back towards the top of the table. They are only 10th and their home defeat in the derby against Marseille (4-2) before the international break has hurt them a lot. They were 2-0 up and totally crumbled. They can’t afford to drop more points already this season after four defeats in eight matches this campaign.
They have to go back to winning ways. They will also play in the Europa League next week in a huge game against Lazio so that might play a bit on their minds on Sunday. Mario Balotelli will lead the line again. He has been disciplined and efficient when he played in the last few weeks. He scored again against Marseille and is probably in the best form of his career.
The 4-4-2 that Nice are playing in is working well. Lucien Favre should pick Plea and Balotelli up front together and has the choice in midfield as well with Seri, Mendy, Koziello or Walter. Nice have a really bad record in Montpellier with only two wins in 20 visits in the league! For Montpellier this is another huge game after the draws against PSG and Monaco.
They could play with the same back five once again to be very solid. They will try to frustrate Nice going forward and hit them on the counter. They have their striker Giovanni Sio back after his suspension but he could be on the bench. Nice have not been great away from home this season in Ligue 1 and I think they will have a tough game again on Sunday but I think they will come out with a win.
Strasbourg v Marseille (Sunday, 8pm)
For the second matchday in a row Marseille play away from home this time at Strasbourg on Sunday evening. Before the international break they convincingly beat Nice in the Mediterranean derby (4-2). This could be as tricky. Marseille are now third in the table after winning their last three league matches in a row. They are on a good run at the moment.
They will be without Luis Gustavo though, who is suspended in midfield, after his red card at Nice. He is a huge loss but at least he will be back for the Classique against PSG the following weekend. Lucas Ocampos is also suspended which is another blow considering the great form he is in. Clinton Njie came back late from his national team duty and could be left on the bench.
The good news, however, is Kostas Mitroglou, who signed in the summer but has not started a game yet after an injury, is ready to play. He could start up front in the 4-2-3-1 formation Rudi Garcia should field. Marseille are looking a bit better defensively as well before this trip to Strasbourg. They will try to build on their recent good performances domestically to continue their excellent run.
Marseille don’t have a good record in Strasbourg with just one win in their last seven visits in the top flight. Although their last trip there was in 2007! It might not look like it but this could prove a crucial game for Marseille and they have to deliver.
For Strasbourg as well this is a huge game. The promoted side are struggling this season. They are 19th in the table with just one win in eight. They concede a lot of goals and don’t score many either. They are in real trouble but they haven’t lost faith. They will keep fighting until the end. However, they have a lot of players missing for this game: no Corgnet, Martinez, Foulquier. Mangane is doubtful as well. I think Marseille will be too strong for Strasbourg.