Ligue 1 Matchday 2 Saturday Preview and Predictions

Can Brice Jovial sink Toulouse?

Finally, the Ligue 1 season is underway. After last week’s matches, we can at least get a little glimpse into what some of the teams might look like. Yes, one match into the season isn’t a predictor of anything. Even so, we were able to really get a look at what some of the teams might be throwing out there this season, and help us get an idea of where they are going.

Lorient vs. Bordeaux – This is easily the tale of two teams that went in different directions last week. Lorient pulled off the upset of Matchday 1 with a victory on the road against Paris St. Germain. Bordeaux, on the other hand, continued to struggle to find a scoring touch and lost to St. Etienne by a score of 2-1. But will the same teams show up this weekend?

As far as Lorient, they did play an impressive match. Throughout their game against PSG, Lorient had the home side on their toes. Aggressive play against what many considered a superior opponent was quite a shock. But is that what we should expect from Lorient this season, or was that just a flash in the pan? As for Bordeaux, creating any offensive threat continues to be their main problem. And after the club stated in L’Equipe this week that they would not seek any new players for the remainder of the summer transfer period, Bordeaux are pretty much stuck where they are.
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2011-12 Ligue 1 Predictions: 14th through 9th place.

Now time to continue our Ligue 1 preview for teams that I predict will finish 9th to 14th place. Here we go.

14 – Nancy: Yes, for years and years, everyone talks about how Nancy should be relegated. They aren’t in the most exciting market in France. They might be located in the middle of nowhere. But still, they have been able to stay in France’s top flight during years in which relegation seemed certain.

Going into this year, one could easily put Nancy in the relegation zone yet again. As far as the transfer market, Nancy didn’t really do anything. In fact, they lost Julien Feret and Alfred N’Diaye, which will hurt a little. But as far as transfers coming in, Nancy mostly went with younger players that the jury is still out on. They were able to retain Alexandre Cuvillier from loan, but that was about it.

But there was one big pick up for Nancy, and that is coach Jean Fernandez. After leaving Auxerre, it was a safe bet around Ligue 1 circles that Fernandez was going to go to Bordeaux, a team in which he played for two-year. Instead, his move to Nancy was both a shock and a head-scratcher in football circles. Does he know something that we don’t? Nevertheless, he has always had the eye to find some stunning talent and turn them into superstars. Is that what he is going to do at Nancy?
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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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Ligue 1′s Wish List for Winter Mercato Part II (Monaco to Valenciennes).

A Sessegnon move to St. Etienne the best option (Reuters)?

We are continuing our quick “needs list” from the other day with the rest of the teams, starting with Monaco.

Monaco – Easily, Monaco has to be one of the biggest upsets of the season. Yes, they do miss Nene, but they still should be a decent mid-table team. Still, one seriously has to wonder if the organization really thought that Daniel Niculae could provide Monaco with the same offensive success as Nene. Yes, he is a solid player, but really?

Anyway, Monaco seems to have some major problems with both their midfield and up front. Their midfield is sub par, though they do have a few players like Nampalys Mendy, who seems to have a bright future. Also, offensively, Chu Young Park really needs to find both some midfield and up front support, so that he isn’t the only one producing offensive chances. Therefore, finding some good, solid forwards and midfielders should be Monaco’s priority. If they don’t build their team now, they might lose some quality players. While Park has a contract extension until 2013, Ruffier’s contract expires in the summer.

Montpellier – During the off-season, many were wondering if the Costa-Montano tandem could be replaced by the Estrada-Giroud pair. And even with a few injuries this season, these two players have been able to work well together. True, they aren’t at the level of Costa-Montano, but they have the potential.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 17 Saturday Preview: Could be a snoozer!

Could Pedretti's injury lead to even more woes at Auxerre?

During the mid-week, Ligue 1 teams had mixed results. At the Stade Velodrome, Marseille were able to knock off Chelsea by a score of 1-0, which could have actually been more for Marseille. The other two teams in the Champions League didn’t fare as well, as Lyon drew against Tel Aviv and Auxerre lost to Marseille.

So how will those teams do this weekend? Here is our Saturday Matchday 17 preview.

Brest vs. Montpellier – This might be the story of two teams heading in different directions. Last week, Brest weren’t the most impressive team against Paris St. Germain. On the other hand Montpellier looked great, even though it was in a losing effort.

While both teams have had decent showings this season, neither team have really shown that they have gelled. Both have decent scorers, but both have great defenses. This could easily be a 1-0 game, but for who?

Up front, I think that Brest have a little bit of an edge right now over Montpellier. While Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud has had a decent season, Nolan Roux always seems to find a way to slip by the defenders. Therefore, I’m going with Roux and Brest in a 1-0 win.
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Ligue 1 Matchday 16 Saturday Preview: Wake up call for some teams.

Lloris will need to have a big day against Montpellier for OL to win.

Last week in Ligue 1, we had a number of evenly matched teams playing one another. This week, it is a different story. Instead, we have some really good and stiff competitions. Some team will be able to show if they have what is take to stay at the top of the Ligue 1 table. Some will show if they are really a cinderella story, and have just been messing with us the last 15 weeks.

Arles-Avignon vs. AS Nancy Lorraine – if Brest isn’t going to be in the relegation zone this year, who is? Of course, we already know that Arles-Avignon will be down there. But Nancy makes a good case for demotion as well.

So far this year, Nancy hasn’t had any consistency. They have quality players like Youssouf Hadji, Marama Vahirua and Paul Alo’o Efoulou who haven’t produced. Goalkeeper Gennaro Bracigliano, who suffered a finger injury not too long ago, seems to have been replaced by Damien Gregorini. Again, that isn’t helping the team. Basically, they really don’t have anything going for them.

The only thing they have going for them this week is that they are playing Arles-Avignon, who are even worse than they  are. During the off-season, there was a lot of talk about Arles-Avignon bringing in a lot of new players from around the world. Most of them are average at best in the leagues they came from. And if the team is basically “new”, how can the team create chemistry amongst the players? Arles was a disaster from the start.

Prediction: Nancy wins 3-1.
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