OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and he's looking at Lille v PSG and Nice against Toulouse.
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.
Lille v PSG (Sat 4pm)
League leaders PSG, eleven points clear of Lyon in second place, qualified for the League Cup final in midweek by beating Rennes away (3-2) in the semi-final on Tuesday evening.
They lost Kylian Mbappé on that night as he was sent off and will miss the trip to Lille. So Angel Di Maria will replace him on the left wing. Lassana Diarra made his PSG debut for the last few minutes of the game on Tuesday as well. He could start on Saturday as Unai Emery is going to rotate his squad a bit.
Paris SG have the Madrid game in mind on February 14 and Emery will make sure his key players are rested and fit for that match. Edinson Cavani, who became PSG’s all-time top scorer last weekend, didn’t play in midweek but will start up front on Saturday.
Javier Pastore is a big doubt while Thiago Motta is back in the squad. Paris have been troubled away from home in the league this season (two defeats and two draws along seven wins). They are not always the best away from home, but they have a good record at Lille. They last lost there back in 2012 and have won 1-0 on each of their last three visits!
The home side are still struggling towards the bottom of the table. They are 17th in the table, just one point above Troyes in 18th place. Their form under new manager Christophe Galtier has been inconsistent with some good results and performances and others more disappointing.
The Lille captain, Ibrahim Amadou wanted to leave the club during the transfer window but Lille wanted too much money. So he might not be in the best of state mentally to play after being left very disappointed.
Nice v Toulouse (Sat 7pm)
Nice host Toulouse on Saturday evening on the back of a very disappointing result last weekend at Metz. Nice were beaten by the team bottom of the table (2-1) and lost Pierre Lees-Melou who was sent off in the first half. It was Nice’s first defeat in eight league matches.
Lees-Melou will be suspended for this game obviously while Wylan Cyprien is still out injured. They are two very important players for Nice and manager Lucien Favre. He will have to find a new formula in midfield then to cope with their absence. Nice are currently sixth in the table, three points behind Nantes in fifth. They are too far off now to hope to finish in the top four, but the aim is to do well in the Europa League and finish fifth in Ligue 1.
They need to bounce back on Saturday then and get back to winning ways. Mario Balotelli scored last weekend, his 13th goal of the season in the league, but he looked frustrated as well. He is out this weekend which is another huge blow for Nice. They are now back at home this weekend where they have won their last four Ligue 1 matches. Their confidence is still high despite the defeat last weekend. Nice have an excellent record at home against Toulouse who only won twice in their last ten visits for example.
The visitors have a new manager in Mickael Debeve, who replaced Pascal Dupraz. His team got him a win for his debut last weekend against Troyes thanks to Yaya Sanogo, although it was not very convincing. They need to defend better on Saturday if they want to get at least a point in Nice. However, I think the home side will get all three points.