Can big teams get back on track? Matchday 5 Saturday Preview

Well, three computers later, it looks like I might actually be able to get some previews up for today’s games.

So far this season, the matches haven’t gone as planned. Marseille is the highest ranked Champions League team at 10th place, Auxerre is in the relegation zone, and Lyon has had quite boring matches so far. On the other hand, Toulouse continue to top the table. No matter what happens today, Toulouse will continue to top the table. Sochaux and St. Etienne, favorites for being relegated, are in 4th and 5th place. And Montpellier, who most expected to fall this season, continue their form from last season as well.


AJ Auxerre  
 / 
  SM Caen

Auxerre has been in this position before. Last year, Auxerre started off as one of the worse teams in Ligue 1. And, eventually, they were able to climb their way up to third spot. Still, with draws against average teams this season and a loss to Monaco, Auxerre has to worry about their current form, especially before starting Champions League play.

SM Caen is easily one of the most impressive teams so far this season. Some, including myself, have considered Caen as the “next Montpellier”. Still, with some of the injuries that they have, we expect them to eventually fall back down to Earth.

The key for Auxerre’s success could lie on the shoulders of Anthony Le Tallec and Ireneusz Jelen. Auxerre has always been a strong defensive team, and they still are today. But scoring has always been their problem. Le Tallec is easily a better choice up front compared to Daniel Niculae (who, ironicly, scored against Auxerre two weeks ago in the Monaco-Auxerre match), but working as a collective offensive team has always been a problem at Auxerre.

The Auxerre defenders will also have to keep their eyes on Youssef El-Arabi, who is easily making a statement as one of the early favorites for the Young Player of the Year Award.

Possible teams:

Auxerre: Sorin; Hengbart, Coulibaly, Mignot, Grichting (or Berthod); Oliech, Pedretti, Ndinga, Birsa (or Sammaritano);  Le Tallec, Jelen (or Contout).

Caen: Thébaux; Barzola, Sorbon, Lazarevic, Tafforeau; I. N’Diaye; Hamouma, Marcq, Seube, El-Arabi; K. Traoré


Olympique Lyonnais  
 / 
  Valenciennes FC

Lyon currently sits in 17th place. They have not looked good this season. In fact, they have looked very stagnant. Will this be the game that Lyon can turn things around?

The good news for Lyon is that Lisandro Lopez will be returning to the team, and is expected to start. As well, Yoann Gourcuff is expected to start his first match for Lyon as well. Therefore, the offensive firepower will hopefully be back for Lyon. On the other hand, the defense hasn’t looked that great. One player that has looked far from good is French international Jeremy Toulalan. After his involvement in the “coup” at the World Cup, he has not looked like the same player. Still, unlike other matches this season, he is expected to start in his defending midfield position instead of central defense. Maybe this will help his form.

Valenciennes continues to be one of the “unknown” teams in Ligue 1. They could pull off a surprise at the Stade Gerland? We will see. If Gregory Pujol Gael Danic can net a goal or two, they can easily do it. The problem for Valenciennes is their mediocre defense and goaltending.

Possible teams:

Lyon: Lloris; Réveillère, Diakhaté, Lovren, Kolodzieczjak (or Källström); Toulalan, Makoun (or Pjanic); Briand, Gourcuff, Bastos; Lisandro (or B. Gomis).

Valenciennes: Penneteau; Mater, Bisevac, Baldé, Bong; R. Gomis, Cohade, Saez; Dossevi (or Pujol), Samassa, Danic


Montpellier Hérault SC  
 / 
  AS Nancy Lorraine

Montpellier were expected to fall back to earth after the departure of Victor Montano and Alberto Costa. And while the offense hasn’t been able to help Montpellier, the defense has. Lead by Bosnian captain Emir Spahic and goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren, Montpellier has yet to allow a goal this season.

If Montpellier wants to pull off a win at home, they will need to get their offense fired up. Hasan Kabze, who came over from Rubin Kazan this season, has been less than impressive. Olivier Giroud has finally started to show some life. And yet, even with these offensive woes, Rene Giraud continues to not start Karim Aït-Fana, who isn’t injurned as far as I know.

For Nancy, they are similar to Valenciennes, you never know what you are going to get. They don’t look good offensively, or defensively. Honestly, with the emergence of St. Etienne so far this year, Nancy could be considered a possible candidate for relegation. Still, even so, they just do not look like a good collective team out there. Montpellier should win, but you never know if they won’t be able to score.

Possible team:

Montpellier: Jourdren; Bocaly, Yangambiwa, Spahic, Jeunechamp; J. Marveaux, Pitau, Estrada; So. Camara, Giroud, Kabze

Nancy: Bracigliano; Chrétien, Loties (or Sami), André Luiz, Lemaitre; Berenguer, Nguemo; Féret, Brison, Vahirua; Bakar


Paris Saint-Germain  
 / 
  AC Arles Avignon

I guess I have to preview every game. Still, this should be a 4-0 game for PSG. Paris, who I still say has a good chance of grabbing that 3rd place spot, need to forget about the season form up to date and just pound on Arles-Avignon. Again, really nothing to say about this match except “how many goals will PSG score.”

And, to give coach Antoine Kombouaré some credit, it seems like he has been able to find a way to have Ludovic Giuly, Nene and Christophe Jallet on the pitch at the same time (it is easy with Jallet though, just put him at defense).

Possible teams:

Paris Saint-Germain: Coupet; Jallet, Z. Camara, Sakho, Tiéné; Giuly, Makelele, Chantôme, Nenê;  Hoarau (or Luyindula), Erding

Arles-Avignon: Planté; Laurenti, Pavon, Mejia, J.A. Fanchone; Meriem , Piocelle (or Ben Idir), Ayasse, D. N’Diaye; Kermorgant, Dja Djédjé


Stade Rennais FC  
 / 
  FC Sochaux-Montbéliard

Well, it is official…Victor Montano will have to carry the entire Rennes offense on this shoulder. After the departure of Asamoah Gyan to Sunderland last week, Montano, who has looked impressive this season, will have to be the key to a successful Rennes offense.

But even with Montano taking this key role on the team, one has to look at Rennes and wonder if they are trying to build their team on the shoulders of a bunch of has-beens. Both Jeromy Leroy and Stephane Dalmat, both who were great French football players who could never succeed on the international level, continues to be important parts of their team. On the bright side, Yann M’Vila, who has been an important part of Laurent Blanc’s French team, gives Rennes a little extra defensive strength. Still, with the departure of Gyan, many experts will have to wonder if Rennes is still the solid 3rd place favorites.

As for Sochaux, they are doing way better than most expect. But still, the fall of Sochaux back to reality should start in Rennes today.

Possible teams:

Rennes: Douchez; Danzé, Kana-Biyik, Mangane, Théophile-Catherine; Mvila, Dalmat; Brahimi (or Leroy); S. Marveaux, Kembo (or Brahimi), Montano

Sochaux: Dreyer; Sauget, Bréchet, Perquis (or Faty), Mikari; Maurice-Belay, Ma. Martin, Anin, Boudebouz; Ideye, Maïga


Toulouse FC  
 / 
  AS Saint-Etienne

Two of the surprise teams of the season have to be St.-Etienne and Toulouse. And while many people might want to watch this game because it could be “exciting” because it is two top teams playing, you might be disappointed.

Both teams are strong defensively. Toulouse has been a strong defensive team for the last few years. ASSE has added American Carlos Bocanegra, Sylvain Marchel and former Toulouse defender Albin Ebondo to make up the new look St. Etienne defense. Therefore, who ever scores first might be the winner.

But who might be that scorer? For Toulouse, Daniel Braaten and Etienne Didot have finally shown that they can score goals. For a while, both of these player have underperformed. And with all of the offense being centered around Andre-Pierre Gignac, this now leads to Toulouse playing a more fluid style of play. In addition, Yannis Tafer, French U-19 star and Lyon product, is expected to see his first start today.

For St. Etienne, Dimitri Payet, who has always been considered a good player, but has always disappointed, looks like he is finally on track to have a decent season. In addition, Blaise Matuidi can produce some good scoring chances as well.

 This is going to be a great match up, but it might be very defensive as well, so might not be too fun to watch.

Possible Teams:

Toulouse: Valverde; Gunino, Cetto, Congré, M’Bengué; E. Capoue; Machado, Mo. Sissoko (or Devaux), E. Didot, Tabanou; Tafer (or Santander)

Saint-Etienne: Janot; Ebondo, Bayal, Monsoreau, Bocanegra; Guilavogui, Matuidi; Landrin (or Sako), Battles, Payet; Rivière


RC Lens  
 / 
  LOSC Lille Métropole

On paper, this should be a slam dunk for Lille. Gervinho, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye, Adil Rami, Florent Balmont, Mickael Landreau…the names are endless. And like many preseason predictions, Lille should be considered a favorite in the Ligue 1 title race.

But three things are going against Lille. One, they are playing at Lens. Lens is always considered one of the hardest places to play (if not the hardest) in Ligue 1. Second, this is one of the biggest (yet friendly) rivalries in France. And third, Lille can’t find the goal.

So far this season, Lille has only scored 2 goals in 4 matches. And those two goals have come from Moussa Sow and Pierre-Alain Frau (who is still working on his “comeback kid” status). The big names have yet to score in league matches. Therefore, if the big foots of Hazard, Gervinho, Obraniak, Cabaye and Balmont can find the net, the game can get out of hand early for Lens.

Still, they are playing at Lens, and anything can happen.

Possible teams:

Lens: Runje; Démont (or Aurier), Chelle, Al. Yahia, Bédimo; Hermach, Démont (or Sertic); Eduardo (or Jemaa), Roudet, Boukari; Maoulida

Lille: Landreau; Debuchy, Rami, Rozehnal, Emerson; Balmont, Mavuba, Cabaye; Gervinho, Hazard;  Frau (or Sow)

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3 Responses

  1. I need you to predict every PSG game. Seriously..

  2. No kidding. For some reason, I am hitting the PSG games right on the head!

  3. Lens x Lille = AMAZING MATCH!!

    Puel will be under fire after this match. He needs to win his next matches, with included Bordeaux next weekend.

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