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Preview: Dec. 12th Ligue 1 matches

Recently, Ligue 1 matches look to be predictable before the start of the game. But there have been a number of lopsided matches held in the last 2 months, like Grenoble being on a 4 game unbeaten streak, while playing Monaco, Lyon and Toulouse.

Unlike the EPL, where many matches are predictable, many of these matches haven’t been going exactly as planned.

This Saturday, we get back to a to a bit of normalcy as we have a number of evenly match teams taking on one another. So here is our preview for today’s matches.

Olympique de Marseille  
  Boulogne Côte d’Opale

This should be the match that will go as expected. And I put a stong emphasis on ‘should’.

While Marseille has played worse than expected this year, their luck doesn’t seem to be changing any. While they do have recent wins against Nice and PSG, they have also lost to RC Lens as well.

OM will be without star striker Mamdou Niang for the next six weeks due to the injury to his left shoulder in the Champions League game versus Real Madrid. In his place, Dider Deschamps seems to be going with Bakari Kone up front to pair up with Brandao today instead of Hatem Ben Arfa, whose future at the club looks more and more like it might end this winter instead of next summer. Other than Niang’s absence, will be dressing the usual suspects.

Unlike Grenoble, Boulogne have been playing been playing at about the level that most people predicted them to play at. While they did beat RC Lens last week, Boulogne have allowed 14 goals in their last five matches. And, in addition, they have a very weak offense. Allowing nearly three goals a game and not being able to score is a bad combination going into Stade Velodrome.

Expect Marseille to run away with this match: Prediction 4-0 Marseille

Le Mans UC 72  
  Valenciennes FC

Another match that ‘should’ look predictable is the Valenciennes vs. Le Mans match. On paper there is no comparison, VA is dominate. Le Mans hasn’t won in their last eight games. And in addition, they have a different coach than they did last week, with Paulo Duarte leaving (spending more time with Burkina Faso National Team, which he also coaches), and 34-year old Arnaud Cormier coming in.

Valenciennes, which continues to be one of the surprises this season, along with Montpellier, continues on their winning way. They have only lost three of their last thirteen matches. During that span, VA defeated giants Marseille and Bordeaux. Their scoring has been the main reason for their dominance, with Mamadou Samassa netting six goals for the side.

Le Mans is a different story. While most people didn’t expect the team to do much this season, their current woes are worse that most people expected. While Anthony Le Tallec has played well for the club, others have not impressed as much. Didier Onovo has been less than spectacular in goal this season. And Thorstein Helstad, known as the club’s leading striker, has only produced two goals. In fact, Helstad will be starting today’s game from the bench.

 Again, this should be an easy victory for Valenciennes, Prediction: 3-1 Valenciennes with the win.

RC Lens  
  OGC Nice

With a poor start to the season, Nice seemed to be back on track. But with two losses in their last two game, to Sochaux and Marseille, Nice look to be sliding back toward to bottom again, sitting in 14th place. Loic Remy still continues to be one of the best players in Ligue 1, and the team has done a great job distributing the ball through the field instead of just targeting Remy. But last week Remy missed the match and Marseille dominated their southern French rival.

RC Lens, on the other hand, look ever so slowly like they are climbing out of the Ligue 1 cellar. The team received a lot of criticism in the last few months after club chairman Gervais Martel said that he is sticking with coach Jean-Guy Wallemme. Still, Wallemme seems to have his team back on track and with a in today, Lens could leapfrog over Nice and move up the table.

As Lens has proven this season, the Stade Felix Bollaert is hard place to play, as Marseille learned a few weeks ago. Lens will also be without striker Kevin Monnet-Paquet. Still, Monnet-Paquet has been less than impressive this season, only scoring two goals.

If Lens can stop Remy, they might have a chance. But I think the talent of Nice will overpower the Lens crowd. Prediction: Nice wins 2-1.

AS Nancy Lorraine  
  Stade Rennais FC

Nancy Lorraine seems to always be one of the most quiet team in Ligue 1. They always seem to be that mid-table team that can sometimes make noise. But if they do make noise, it is rarely talked about. Still, Nancy hasn’t made any noise this season, as they as lingering in 13th place.

Rennes, who went through a little bit of a slump last month, seems to be back on the climb with a two-match winning streak.

While defense on Rennes can be strong, they will be without the services for Carlos Bocanegro. This could possibly lead to a striker-happy match, something that we have seen in Ligue 1 this season. Rennes is led by Ghanaian international Asamoah Gyan, who has eight goals this season. The team will also have the services of Jimmy Briand, who is returning after 9 months with an ACL injury.Kader Mangane, who is also returning from injury, should make up for lack of Bocanegra on the back line.

While Rennes have Gyan and Briand, Nancy have Youssouf  Hadji, who has seven goals for the team. Otherwise, Nancy are weaker than Rennes when it comes to scoring options.

This match might come down to goaltending. And while he has had some rough games as of recent, Nicolas Douchez should have the edge over Nancy’ Gennaro Bracigliano. Give Rennes the win in an unexpected offensively charged game 4-3.


FC Lorient  
  AJ Auxerre

A classic battle. Lorient’s offense versus Auxerre’s defense. Which one will prevail?

When people think of Ligue 1, they think of physical, defensive play. Basically, they think of how Auxerre is playing this year.  But with how many goals have been scored this year, you can throw out all those myths about Ligue 1 constantly being a ‘defensive sturggle’.

Today’s clash will pit two of Ligue 1’s best defensive players, in Cedric Hengbart and Adama Coulibaly, against the two highly talented strikers for Lorient, Kevin Gameiro and Marama Vahirua.

The winner of this game will more than likely jump into a European competition spot, as Bordeaux and Lyon are playing against each other tomorrow. Still, we will see in this match if Ligue 1 retains its defensive roots or if the league has become one for the offensive minded.

Even though Auxerre are a great defensive, holding team, they will benefit from the return of two of their top offensive players in Ireneusz Jelen and Benoit Pedretti. Is this the edge that will push Auxerre over Lorient? Maybe, but lets remember that Lorient doesn’t have a shabby defense either, with centerbacks Laurent Koscielny and Sylvain Marchal  being amongst the best in Ligue 1.

Still, I am going for the home team, and see Gameiro scoring two. Prediction 3-1 for Lorient.

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