OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and today he's looking at Monaco v Nantes.
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.
Monaco v Nantes (Sat 4pm)
Monaco host Nantes four days after a disappointing draw away from home at Rennes (1-1). Monaco, who lost the League Cup final last weekend against Paris SG (3-0), were not good enough in midweek and were lucky to get a point in Brittany.
The defeat against Paris has hurt the players and the team has to bounce back after those two games in a row without a win. They are only five points clear of Marseille in second place and Lyon, in fourth, are seven points behind. Monaco can’t let them come back closer, so they need to get back to winning ways.
Manager Leonardo Jardim could rotate a little bit his team. Radamel Falcao might not be able to play three games in a week so might be on the bench with Stevan Jovetic on his own up front. However, Jovetic is a doubt but Monaco should have Keita Baldé and Joao Moutinho back. Jardim played in a 4-4-2 formation in midweek but should go back to his usual 4-2-3-1 system on Saturday.
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Thomas Lemar looks better in a more central role at the moment than wide on the left. Monaco have lost only once at home all season, against Paris SG. They have not always looked at their best at the Stade Louis II but they are very solid and hard to beat there. Their home record against Nantes is excellent. They smashed them 4-0 last season and Nantes haven't won in Monaco in Ligue 1 since 2009.
The visitors are under pressure though. They were hammered last weekend at home by St Etienne (3-0) and they have only won twice in their last thirteen matches in all competitions. They are now eighth in the table but just two points behind Rennes in fifth. So they are still in the race for a top five finish but they need points.
They will make sure they are hard to beat on Saturday and will come up with a solid defensive plan. Their manager Claudio Ranieri will be happy with a point. And I think Nantes will get it but I don’t think there will be a goal. My best bet is under 1.5 goals scored at 4.30.