Nice v Rennes
Rennes were undoubtedly Ligue 1’s form team before the international break as they strung together an impressive sequence of victories as their attacking options flourished. They have won their last five games domestically, scoring 20 goals in the process.
Their challenge will be keeping that momentum going through the international break against a Nice side that is marshalled by Christophe Galtier, who is the outstanding spoiler coach in Ligue 1. This is highlighted by the fact that his side are the only team to have visited Paris Saint-Germain this season and not lost – indeed, they have done so twice via 0-0 draws.
Nice’s form has not been good in recent weeks, though this has largely been due to a slump in their fortunes on the road. Having been so reliable away from home for so long, they have failed to win any of their last four on their travels.
It’s also worth pointing out that they will have played all the other members of the top five in the space of five match days after this fixture. So far, they have won one, drawn one and lost one.
At home, meanwhile, they have pieced together a better run of form, including a 1-0 win over PSG in their last outing at the Allianz Riviera. They have won six of their last seven at home in all competitions.
Rennes’ strength, meanwhile, has been their home form. Indeed, on their travels domestically this season, they have won only five of 15 road trips, albeit each of their last two.
The Bretons may be flourishing, but Nice remain a formidable obstacle to overcome, having kept four clean sheets in succession before facing Marseille. With Dane back after a ban, they have their keystone defender available too.
Lille v Bordeaux
Lille have shown that there is time yet for them to make a serious push for the Champions League spots, but it will require them sustaining a strong level through to the end of the season. The signs are there, though, that they may just be able to do that.
Prior to the international break, they went to Nantes and secured a hard-fought victory away from home. Indeed, that was their third win in four Ligue 1 matches.
Their recent improvement has come about thanks to their defensive strength. They have not conceded a goal in any of their last six Ligue 1 matches, and though they have twice been held 0-0 at home by struggling opponents, both Metz and Saint-Etienne have shown organisational capabilities far above those of Bordeaux.
In another boost to the home side, Sven Botman and Renato Sanches have trained this week and appear ready to come back into the team, giving them their full complement of players to pick from.
Conversely, Bordeaux are without three starters because of bans, including both centre-backs and the primary holding midfielder that started a 2-0 loss against Montpellier a fortnight ago. And this is a team with a simply dreadful defensive record.
Since David Guion took command in February, Bordeaux have become a little better at the back but this has come at a cost offensively. Having been free scoring earlier this season, they have failed to hit the net in any of their last three matches.
It is hard to see how Bordeaux might avoid further trouble, especially as they have lost their last five against Lille.
Saint-Etienne v Marseille
Saint-Etienne and Marseille have a heated historic rivalry and this match is an important one for each side for very different reasons. Sainté are battling relegation and could use maximum points to lift themselves out of the playoff spot. They could be roared on by a record crowd as more capacity has been freed up with travelling supporters banned. OM, meanwhile, are seeking to secure Champions League football.
Saint-Etienne’s form has not been that of relegation strugglers for the last couple of months. Under Pascal Dupraz an impressive spirit has been forged in the camp, leading to a run of just one league loss in eight. That defeat came against PSG.
Although their survival campaign has certainly not run out of steam, it is notable that they have won only one of their last five, drawing three.
Marseille, meanwhile, are on a four-game winning streak in all competitions. Performances have often been ugly but, crucially, they have been effective. They are also a very good side away from home, losing just two matches on their travels so far this season.
With Saint-Etienne hampered by injuries – leading scorer Wahbi Khazri will miss this game along with defender Falaye Sacko – and OM running with a squad that is at virtually full capacity, albeit Arek Milik will sit out, it is hard to see the visitors losing this game.
Certainly, they were easy 3-1 winners in August when they last met, although both teams have changed significantly since then.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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