OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and tonight he's looking at three crucial Sunday games.
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 Troyes (Sun 3.30pm)
For the second league game in a row, Lyon are at home this weekend, this time against Troyes. They easily beat Nantes (2-0) last weekend at the Groupama Stadium to make it six league wins in a row, which is a remarkable run of results.
They have overtaken Monaco into second place and are now the favourites to finish there and qualify directly for the Champions League next season. They are a point clear of Monaco and two of Marseille. Lyon have hit form at the right time and are playing some wonderful football at the moment.
They have scored 17 goals in their last five league matches and their front four of Fekir, Depay, Diaz and Traoré has been incredible with over 10 goals for each of them already this season! The new 4-3-1-2 formation is working really well for them.
Fekir is the number 10 in a free role and Depay is exploding as a centre forward. Manager Bruno Genesio has almost a complete squad for this game. Only the keeper Anthony Lopes is suspended which is a big blow. However, Lyon are running very high on confidence and momentum at the moment. They don’t fear anyone and are really committed to finish their season on a high with a second place finish.
They will be wary of Troyes who are still fighting for survival but in their current form, this Lyon team is very hard to beat. Their home record against Troyes is pretty remarkable too with just one loss in their whole history. The stadium will be full as well and Lyon want a seventh win in a row in the league.
Troyes are currently in the playoff position but it is very precarious. They have only won one of their last ten league matches and it was last weekend at home to Caen (3-1). Troyes played really well in that match and the win gave the players a boost. However, this will be a much tougher encounter and I expect Lyon to win quite easily.
- Lyon 4, Troyes 0 (8-1, Unibet)
- Depay to score first (39-10, Unibet)
- Lyon to score 4+ (27-20, Unibet)
Caen v Monaco (Sun 4pm)
Monaco, last season’s champions, are going through a terrible time at the moment. They lost against PSG (7-1) and Guingamp (3-1) and could only draw 0-0 with Amiens at home last weekend. They have no momentum at the moment but plenty of pressure on them going into this game.
They are now in third place in the table, just a point behind Lyon in second but only one ahead of Marseille in fourth. For a while it looked like they were the favourite to finish in second place but they now have a big fight on their hands to get there.
Their star players are not delivering at the moment. Radamel Falcao, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar are all playing below par. They have not been able to carry the team and even Rony Lopes, who has been the best Monaco player in 2018, is also struggling at the moment.
Manager Leonardo Jardim is struggling to find the right solutions though. He changed the personnel last weekend but it had no effect. Monaco have to bounce back and get back to winning ways. They cannot afford any slip ups and they know this is a tough trip. They have won in their last three visits in Caen but they are not playing well at the moment and not really confident either. There are still some injury concerns as well like Keita Baldé, Stevan Jovetic, Djibril Sidibé or Rachid Ghezzal. At least Jemerson is back from suspension which will boost the defence.
For the home side, this is a great game to play with no pressure on their shoulders. Caen are safe and will enjoy raising their game for this one. Manager Patrice Garande has Dabo and Diomandé back from suspension and the players are convinced they can pour more misery on Monaco. They are there for the taking and Caen will put a lot of pressure on the visitors.
Marseille v Nice (Sun 8pm)
Marseille host Nice on Sunday evening in a huge Mediterranean derby. On Thursday, Marseille qualified for the Europa League final in dramatic circumstances with an extra-time goal by Rolando in Salzburg (1-2). Four days later, they will have to focus again on the league with a crucial match.
This is a really tough game in the race for second place for Marseille. They are currently fourth in the table but just a point behind Monaco in third and two adrift of Lyon in second. Their European adventures have been amazing and so far this season they have also managed to stay competitive in the league.
They will use the boost of their semi-final heroics to keep fighting in the league but they will be tired as well. Manager Rudi Garcia doesn’t have a big depth of squad and already has some injuries (Sakai, Mitroglou). The players gave a lot in Salzburg and went through extra time as well so you can expect them to be a bit off against Nice.
It is a big derby though as the two clubs and sets of fans hate each other. It is always a special encounter. Garcia could field a mixed team. Marseille dropped two important points in Angers last weekend and can’t really afford more slip ups. Their league home record against Nice has been excellent for years but they have just lost twice in their last four games at the Stade Vélodrome.
For Nice, there is still something to play for as well. The team is currently 7th in the table and fighting to finish 5th or 6th which would qualify them for next season’s Europa League. Their results have been up and down recently though with two wins and three draws in their last five matches, but they have Alassane Plea back from suspension. Mario Balotelli will start up front as well. He scored against Strasbourg (1-1) last weekend. I think manager Lucien Favre and Nice will cause problems to Marseille on Sunday and they will take a point.