2013/14 Ligue 1 Matchday 1 Preview

Today's big question...will Lisandro's departure hurt Lyon?

Today’s big question…will Lisandro’s departure hurt Lyon?

Well, with the long awaited season upon us, it is time to pull out the jerseys, find those internet streams we haven’t used in the last few weeks, fire up the DVRs for the games we want to watch later and crack out the French-English dictionaries because Ligue 1 season is finally here. Gone are all of the preseason games that mean nothing, as well as the hype around only two teams. Now we are at the point where those “mega teams” need to prove themselves.

Of course, the transfer market this summer makes Ligue 1 a much different looking league than we had before. One of the newly promoted teams is vying for a Champions League spot. Some of the smaller teams have brought in really good talent. Other teams have lost a lot of their players in the summer, and questions remain on how they will perform this season.

So, with Matchday 1, what should we expect?
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Ligue 1 Matchday 36 Sunday Preview

A Lens loss will relegate the team to Ligue 2.

Now with both the League Cup and French Cup out of the way, all eyes can now focus on Matchday 36 and the remaining schedule. As of this point, only three things have been determined. First, Arles-Avignon will be relegated. Second, Lille will be playing in the Champions League. And third, Marseille will be playing in some sort of European competition due to their victory in the League Cup. Everything else is still up in the air.

Many of the matches this weekend could possibly be the predictor of nothing. At the end of the matchday, which will continue until Wednesday, many of the teams that were in competition for an European spot still might not have qualified or have been eliminated from that spot. Therefore, we will first look at a relegation zone match, which could possibly lead to one of the storied teams in Ligue 1 being relegated to the second division.

In the match between Monaco and Lens, both teams will be climbing an uphill battle. After compiling a few wins in April, Monaco looked as if they were going to survive the relegation zone. But after a few disappointing outings, The Principality find themselves right back in the same position as they did before their mini-win streak. As for Lens, the season hasn’t been one to remember. The club thought that making a coaching change from Jean-Guy Wallemme to László Bölöni would help, but many could argue that it has only made things worse. Therefore, who has the advantage going into this match?
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Ligue 1 Matchday 35 Preview – Upset in the making day?

There are only 20 days left until the end of the Ligue 1 season, and the standings are about as predictable as when all the teams had no point. A number of teams can still win the title. A number of teams can be relegated. And, mathematically, every team but Lens and Arles-Avignon are in the hunt to qualify for the last Europa League spot, which could be sixth place in the standings, depending on where PSG finishes (as Lille has already clinched at least a trip to the Europa League).

It seems like it was only yesterday when we were talking about the Lyon vs. Marseille match. In fact, it was yesterday. And now, just two days later, we are getting ready for more Ligue 1 action.

The week will start off with two Tuesday matches, which are being held on the separate day due to the scheduling conflict caused by the French Cup final.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 34 Preview: Are there some big games this weekend?

Going into this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches, everyone can see the one big match that will be looming over all other matches, which is Sunday night’s heavyweight match between Lyon and Marseille, now termed the Olympico.

But of course, there are a number of other matches that will be going on that will have just as much of an impact on what could happen in the Ligue 1 season as the big OL vs. OM match does. Therefore, lets take a brief look at the upcoming weekend.

Lille is the team that is current leading the league. Luckily for them, they will be playing Nancy on the road. Nancy, a team that many people expect (and, sadly, want) to be relegated to Ligue 2 this season. They will be fighting for the Ligue 1 lives against the championship front-runners. Unfortunately for Nancy, Lille have the second best road record in Ligue 1. True, they will be missing the services of Yohan Cabaye, but his absence shouldn’t hurt them against an opponent that they should easily defeat. And if Lille is able to grab a valuable three points while both OL and OM are slugging it out (which could end in a draw), they could truly make this a two-horse race for the Ligue 1 title.

In other matches, a number of teams vying for the final Europa League spots will be squaring off against one another.

One of those matches will be Lorient hosting Toulouse. Both teams are coming off positive wins. And while Toulouse’s 2-0 win against Lyon might look more impressive than Lorient’s come-from-behind victory at Lens, they are still coming off a high nonetheless. For Lorient, Kevin Gameiro, who was looking like he might have slowed down about a month ago, is showing that he is back and with full force. But what will hurt Gameiro is that Toulouse’s defense looks to be back as well.
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Matchday 31 – What did we learn?

Benoit Cheyrou - the real "Player of the Year"?

1. Could lackluster end of season leave a bad taste in people’s mouth? – Usually around the end of a season, teams at the top of the table start elevating their level of play to try to either win the league or make a run for a Champions League position. But right now it doesn’t seem as if any of the teams really want the Ligue 1 title. Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, Lille and PSG have all played “less than average” games over the past few weeks, and one must really ask if any of them have the drive to win the championship. Instead of the best team pulling ahead of the rest, it is starting to look like “the team that doesn’t play the worse” might win this championship, which could damage the reputation of Ligue 1.

Because of this, we really can’t say who is the favorite to win the championship. We can’t pick out one team (like we did with Marseille last year) and say “ah ha, that is the team that will win it, they have the drive.” Instead, the end of the season might resemble the end of The Blair Witch Project, where people will be scratching their heads while leaving the theater saying “that’s it?”

So please, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, PSG or Rennes, can one of you please pick up your play so we can have at least a little bit of an idea on who really intends to make a serious run at the top spot in the table?
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Ligue 1 Matchday 20…what did we learn?

Is Gomis the best he has been since his St. Etienne days?

After the long winter break, and a bunch of major upsets in the French Cup, which saw one coach get fired, we are now back on the Ligue 1 season, where everything seems to be ‘business as usual’. So, what did we learn this week from another matchday of Ligue 1 action.

Gomis and Toulalan are back – One of our contributors, Martin Michelot, said on his twitter the other day during the Lyon game that Bafetimbi Gomis was “overshadowing” Lisandro Lopez. That is a very good sign for Lyon. In the past few matches, Gomis, who was the target of many boos and whistles (as an American, I still don’t get the whole whistle thing) has been showing his worth to the team. He has scored six goals in his last seven Ligue 1 matches. And by the reaction of the Lyon crowd on Saturday, with chants of “Bafe, Bafe” echoing around the Stade de Gerland, Gomis has gone from zero to hero.

Another player that impressed was Jeremy Toulalan. Toulalan looked like the player of old, doing one amazing play after another. He looked defensively sharp as well. Basically, he looks like he is on his way back. Many of my non-Ligue 1 football friends only knew Toulalan from the World Cup, and talked about how horrible and useless he was. Of course, many of them didn’t know what he used to play like with Lyon. Hopefully, Toulalan getting the “I was going to retire from football” thoughts out in the public might have taken the monkey off his back to play well. Hopefully, we will see more of the old Toulalan like we did this weekend.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 20 Preview – How will Lens perform today?

How much will the departure of Razak Boukari hurt Lens?

To be perfect honest, I hate doing match previews. I dislike doing research on Nancy vs. Arles. And if I do a review of all of the matches, that means that I have to do research on matches that really don’t matter. And even if there isn’t a storyline in a certain match up, I have to make one up.

So from this point on, instead of previewing all of the matches, I am just going to mention some things that you might want to look for in each matchday. This should make it easier, as well as more interesting. So here we go.

How will Lens perform today? – This might be the first time that we open this segment talking about Lens, but they have gone through a few changes in the last month. First, coach Jean-Guy Wallemme was replaced by Romanian László Bölöni. Second, Lens’ leading scorer, Abdoulrazak Boukari, was transferred to Rennes. Many will argue that these two changes might have hurt Lens more than helped. And Lens’ 5-1 loss to PSG in the French Cup my just be proof. They play against St. Etienne today, so we will see if they look any better than they did in their Cup match.
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