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Ligue 1 Preview Gameweek 19

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With just seven points separating the bottom three from the European spots in Ligue 1, it is all to play for and the sides will be looking to end the year on a high going into the winter break.

Nice v Montpellier Date 18/12/2015 – Venue – Allianz Riviera – Kick Off 19:30 (UK Time)

The first game of the weekend is between two sides who will be hoping to be around the European places come the end of the season. Nice welcome Montpellier to the Allianz Arena and the hosts will be looking to cement a place in the top six as the new year approaches. Les Aiglons have no forced changes from the side that faced Reims last time around, but no wins in four means Claude Puel may make one or two changes to try and rediscover the winning formula.

Despite a slip-up against Gazélec, Montpellier have been in great form after their poor start to the season and they will look to continue this run at Nice. Scoring goals again has been key to their surge of consistency and last weekend’s win against Guingamp was a big step towards escaping a relegation battle. They are 13th in the league table and a win on Friday could take them into the top half of the table. With no new injuries or suspensions in the side, there may be an unchanged starting eleven for Montpellier.

Caen v Paris Saint-Germain Date 19/12/2015 – Venue – Stade Michel d’Ornano – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

It’s 1st versus 4th as leaders PSG travel to Caen in the hope of extending the gap at the top of the table. The home side have a great chance to move up to 2nd place and close the gap on PSG to 15 points, albeit still a very big points difference. Caen have had a tough run of fixtures in recent weeks and they have failed to win in their last three outings; they will need to be at their best to beat an undefeated PSG side. They have a couple of suspensions in the team with Jordan Leborgne and Alaeddine Yahia being sidelined, while Jonathan Delaplace is pending fitness.

PSG are having a great season so far; undefeated and top of Ligue 1, through to the knockout stages of the Champions League and progressing in the domestic cup. Les Parisians are boosted by the return of Marco Verratti but Javier Pastore is still going to be sidelined for this match.

Bastia v Reims Date 19/12/2015 – Venue – Stade Armand Cesari – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Either side could find themselves in the relegation zone if they were to lose this match so it is an early season six-pointer as Bastia take on Reims. The visitors are unbeaten in four league games but are just 15th in the table and two points above the bottom three. They drew with Nice in the last round of fixtures and will be looking to end this year with a sign of hope for the second half of the campaign. Suspensions have taken a hit on Reims, as Alexi Peuget, Anthony Weber and Aissa Mandi will all be missing from the squad. Kossi Agassa could also be out with sciatica.

Bastia have been quite inconsistent with their performances in recent weeks and had to settle for a disappointing draw against Troyes in the previous game. They are currently 17th in the league, only outside of the bottom three on goal difference, and the three points could take them up to 13th if results elsewhere go in their favour. There are no notable absentees for Bastia, meaning Ghislain Printant has nearly a fully fit squad to select from.

Guingamp v Rennes Date 19/12/2015 – Venue – Stade du Roudourou – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Rennes are 10th in Ligue 1, but a loss at Guingamp on Saturday could see them dragged into a relegation battle if the teams below them also pick up points. Only five points separate them from Guingamp in 18th so a win for the hosts would really close the gap. Rennes haven’t won in their last five attempts after facing some tough opposition, but a win at the weekend could take them into the top six. Ludovic Baal could be sidelined with a hip injury while Mexer may still be out with a thigh problem.

Hosts Guingamp are going into this match in an attempt to avoid a fifth consecutive loss, in fact they have won just once in their last nine league matches. This is why they have fallen into the bottom three but with the teams so close together, there is a new team in there each week. Guingamp lost to Montpellier in the last fixture and they need to beat the teams around them if they are going to stay in the division, using their home crowd as an advantage. Dorian Leveque will be missing from the Guingamp team with an injury and Nicolas Benezet may be suspended which would be a big miss.

Lorient v Nantes Date 19/12/2015 – Venue – Stade du Moustoir – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Two sides struggling to win at the minute meet at the Stade du Moustoir as Lorient welcome Nantes. The home side have just beaten Toulouse in their last five games and are now 8th as a result; a win on Saturday could take them into the European spots. Lorient will be lifted by Nantes’ recent run of form as they have gone six games without a victory. Moryke Fofana is recovering from an injury, joining Wesley Lautoa and Rafidine Abdullah on the list of absentees.

Les Canaris are 12th in the league standings and desperately need a win to avoid being dragged further towards the relegation zone. Their last four games have resulted in four draws, so the positive for Nantes is that they are no longer easy to beat, they just need to find a way to transform these draws into victories. A few players are missing for Nantes however, with Youssouf Sabaly suspended and Wilfried Moimbe, Yacine Bammou and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson recently added to the injury list.

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Toulouse v Lille Date 19/12/2015 – Venue – Stadium Municipal – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

A few weeks ago this would have been classed as a relegation battle but Lille’s turnaround in form has seen them climb up to 11th after three successive wins. They have played good sides and just conceded one goal in the process; in a difficult first half of the season the Lille defence has been one of their strong points. With Toulouse still struggling in the bottom three, Les Dogues will be hoping for another comfortable victory away from home. They will have to do it without Marko Basa however, and Mike Maignan who will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

Toulouse are still 19th in the table and have drifted three points from safety after dropping four points against Lorient and Nantes. They need to start winning games, especially at home, if they are going to evade drifting away like Troyes have. Martin Braithwaite could be a big miss for Les Pitchouns as he is recovering from an adductor strain, while Issa Diop is reportedly suspended for the match as well.

Troyes v Monaco Date 19/12/2015 – Venue – Stade de l’Aube – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Monaco travel to Troyes and there is only one outcome on paper; Monaco have moved up to 3rd after going unbeaten in five games but Troyes are still winless, at the bottom of the league and 12 points from safety. Despite their league position, Troyes have the potential to cause an upset as they have picked up two points from their last two games against Reims and Bastia, and they now have to go into each game with no fear if they are to beat the drop. Benjamin Nivet is pending fitness but he is the only notable absentee for the home side.

Monaco’s narrow victory against Saint-Étienne in the last round of fixtures was enough to build a bit of a gap from the teams below them. With a number of their rivals struggling this season there is a perfect opportunity for Leonardo Jardim’s side to claim 2nd place and play Champions League football next season. Danijel Subasic may miss this one with a calf injury, while Guido Carrillo and Fabio Coentrao may also be sidelined for Monaco.

Saint-Étienne v Angers Date 20/12/2015 – Venue – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard – Kick Off 13:00 (UK Time)

Angers’ tough run of fixtures continues on Sunday as they travel to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard to face Saint-Étienne. This means they have now faced four teams who have played in Europe this season in four consecutive matches, and surprisingly they have lost none of them until now. Their form has kept them in second place and they would love to stay there going into the new year as they will start playing the struggling teams once again come January. With no forced changes to the side, the same starting eleven that faced Bordeaux may start in this game too.

Les Verts haven’t been in very good form in recent weeks; they are 7th in the league after losing four of their last six games. They are expected to win on home soil, especially against a newly promoted side but Angers have lost just three times all season to this is a very difficult test for Saint-Étienne. Kevin Malcuit may be out of this match through a suspension, while Ismael Diomande and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck have also been ruled out.

Gazélec Ajaccio v Lyon Date 20/12/2015 – Venue – Stade Ange Casanova – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

Another shock result could come at the Stade Ange Casanova where Ligue 1 new boys Gazélec host European contending Lyon. The visitors are there for the taking really after slipping to 6th in the league, losing four of the last five league games and only just getting past Tours in the Coupe de la Ligue. The key to Lyon’s downfall has been Alexandre Lacazette’s injury and his thigh problem could still keep him out of action at the weekend. The absence of Samuel Umtiti and Mathieu Valbuena has also added to Lyon’s struggles.

Gazélec deserve to be higher than 16th in the league standings after going eight games without defeat, but another win would take them much higher in the league as they are just three points from a mid-table position. The side’s confidence is at an all-time high and they will feel like they can pick up another result at home against Les Gones. With no forced changes to the side that drew at Marseille, Thierry Laurey has the option to name an unchanged team.

Bordeaux v Marseille Date 20/12/2015 – Venue – Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux – Kick Off 20:00 (UK Time)

The final game of the weekend is between two European contenders in Bordeaux and Marseille, but poor starts to the season for both sides has made the top six a difficult goal to reach. Les Girondins need the points a lot more than Marseille in terms of their league position, as an inconsistent run has left them in 14th, just three points above the danger zone. A long list of missing players includes the likes of Nicolas Pallois, Pablo, Clement Chantome and Jussie; all of which have been actively involved in Bordeaux’s campaign.

Michel and Marseille are nearly where they want to be as they are closing in on the top six after going five games unbeaten. They are currently 9th in the table but a win could see them squeeze into the European spots. Despite drawing with Montpellier and Gazélec, Les Olympiens have put in a number of strong performances in the last few matches and they are really looking like they are the Marseille Ligue 1 is used to seeing. There are a few players sidelined for Michel’s side; Abdelaziz Barrada with a suspension, and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Romain Alessandrini through injuries.


About Mark Sheppard

I am an 18-year-old Journalism and Media student at De Montfort University, Leicester. I enjoy writing, especially about sport because my interests involve football, snooker, rugby, F1 and tennis.

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