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Ligue 1 Preview Gameweek 20

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Ligue 1 is back after the winter break as the teams enter a crucial stage of the season. The strugglers will need to push on from now to avoid a relegation dogfight whereas the high-flyers will need a run of consistency to hold onto the European spots.

Paris Saint-Germain v Bastia Date 08/01/2016 – Venue – Parc des Princes – Kick Off 19:30 (UK Time)

Leaders PSG welcome relegation-threatened Bastia to the Parc des Princes and they go into this game with a 19-point lead at the top of the table. They are unbeaten in the league so far and will be looking to continue this run on Friday night. It is likely as Les Parisians have won five out of the last six meetings between the sides. Edinson Cavani is doubtful for the match after suffering from calf strain, while Benjamin Stambouli may still be recovering from a neck injury.

Bastia are just three points above the drop-zone in 16th and they need to start picking up points to avoid a battle at the bottom later in the campaign. This game may seem out of reach but it gives them a chance to play freely and maybe PSG won’t be as ruthless as they were before the break. Floyd Ayite isn’t certain to feature and Florian Marange was also struggling with a calf strain before the winter break.

Lyon v Troyes Date 09/01/2016 – Venue – Stade des Lumieres – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

The gap between Troyes and safety is becoming as large as PSG’s lead at the top; they sit rock bottom in the table and face a trip to Lyon on Saturday. Lyon were completely out-of-sorts before the break and needed the time to regroup more than any other Ligue 1 side. They are 9th in the table and this game is a great chance to kick-start their campaign and push for the European places. The hosts could be without Rafael and Jeremy Morel who were both struggling with injuries after the previous game.

Troyes have to start playing with no fear if they are going to avoid relegation as the gap has stretched to 13 points from safety. Claude Robin needs to change something in the formation or the line-up to try and find the winning formula. Benjamin Nivet picked up a thigh injury in the last couple of weeks but he may be fit enough for a return.

Angers v Caen Date 09/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Jean Bouin – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

It’s 3rd versus 4th as Angers host Caen at the Stade Jean Bouin and both sides will be looking to maintain their excellent league positions in the second half of the season. Angers’ results and performances aren’t reflective of a newly promoted side and that is what makes their story so remarkable. Despite losing in their last match; only their fourth defeat of the season, they are one point behind 2nd and the side could return revitalized after a well-earned rest. Razzagui Camara may still be recovering from a thigh issue while Arnold Bouka Mouto is doubtful after suffering from a knee and a foot problem.

A win for Caen could also take them into 2nd place if Monaco fail to pick up points. The visitors are an unpredictable side and have failed to win in their last four outings. Angers will prove to be a tough test for Caen but with no concerns over their side, they have a full squad to select from and could pull off another great result.

Monaco v Gazélec Ajaccio Date 09/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Louis II – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Another fantastic story of the season is at Gazélec, who looked down and out at the bottom for a while, but winning six games and going unbeaten in nine has seen them rise to 12th in the league standings. This surge in form now means they are just as close to the top six as they are to the bottom three. The break may have come at the wrong time for them but they travel to Monaco in the hope of continuing their run. Issiar Dia was the latest injury concern in mid-December but there have been no issues since for Gazélec.

Monaco are in the perfect place to get themselves back into the Champions League and all they need to do so is just a run of consistency. Besides PSG running away at the top, the league table is quite tight from Monaco’s perspective and they were just beginning to build a gap before the winter break came. With Caen playing Angers, Monaco have a big opportunity to establish more ground on their competitors. Mario Pasalic and Almamy Toure will be key losses for the hosts if they haven’t recovered from their respective groin and tibia injuries, while Danijel Subasic may also still be on the sideline.

Montpellier v Bordeaux Date 09/01/2016 – Venue – Stade de la Mosson – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Two sides that would usually be competing for a European spot are Montpellier and Bordeaux but both teams have struggled to get further than mid-table this season. The hosts were in and around the bottom three for numerous weeks but a good run of form has taken them to 15th, just a point behind Saturday’s opponents in 14th. La Paillade haven’t had any injuries recently, meaning they have very few players unavailable for selection.

Bordeaux’s long list of injuries and suspensions has grown each week and it may be the reason why they are in a more difficult position. Les Girondins are unbeaten in three however and they are showing signs of a revival, so a top six finish is far from out of reach. Nicolas Pallois is still suspended for Bordeaux and Nicolas Maurice-Belay would be a big miss if he hasn’t recovered from his injury.

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Reims v Toulouse Date 09/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Auguste Delaune – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Reims take on Toulouse in a huge relegation fight, a six-pointer at the bottom of the table. The hosts only have one win to their name in the last ten games; a victory against Guingamp. A number of poor performances has meant they have dropped to 17th in the league, just two points above the danger zone. The three points on Saturday would give them a bit of breathing space going into the next game. Frederic Bulot picked up a knee injury before the break and it is uncertain whether he’ll feature in this match.

Toulouse have drawn their last two games against Nantes and Lille and have slowly made ground on the teams above the bottom three. A win against Reims would be huge as it would take them within one point of their opposition and it could turn their season around. Tongo Doumbia is suspended for the trip to the Stade Auguste Delaune and Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik could still be sidelined with an injury.

Rennes v Lorient Date 09/01/2016 – Venue – Roazhon Park – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

A mid-table clash sees 7th place Rennes welcome 8th place Lorient to Roazhon Park and a win for either side could take them into the top six. The hosts won their previous game at Guingamp and will look to use the home advantage to ease past Lorient as well. Rennes have a number of possible absentees; Pedro Mendes, Kamil Grosicki and Ludovic Baal could all be sidelined with injuries.

Lorient have failed to score in their last two games; a 3-0 loss to Lille and a goalless draw with Nantes, which is why they may not be the favourites for this match. The visitors have no new concerns over the side, meaning Sylvain Ripoll has nearly a full squad to choose from.

Nantes v Saint-Étienne Date 10/01/2016 – Venue – Stade de la Beaujoire – Kick Off 13:00 (UK Time)

Home side Nantes have remarkably drawn their last five league games and while they remain five points above the bottom three in 13th, there is only a slight threat of relegation at the moment. They do need to start winning games however and will look to take advantage of an inconsistent Saint-Étienne side. Les Canaris may be without Jules Iloki, Wilfried Moimbe and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson for the match after they suffered injuries before the winter interval.

Les Verts have won four and lost five in their last ten games so it is difficult to call which Saint-Étienne team will walk onto the pitch. They have managed to remain 6th though and a run of consistent results could earn them a high finish. There are a few reported injuries in the side, the more recent of which being Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Florentin Pogba.

Lille v Nice Date 10/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Pierre-Mauroy – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

Early strugglers Lille look to be back on track as they put a run of three successive wins together to move up to 11th in the league. Another three points against Nice would edge them even closer to the European spots; an exceptional achievement if they were to get one considering their league position just one or two months ago. There are no concerns over the team which means Lille may start with an unchanged side.

Nice are 5th in Ligue 1 and could move up to 2nd if results go their way, but a few contrasting performances in recent outings means it could either be a comfortable or a difficult game for Lille. Claude Puel has no issues with the side he has picked over the last couple of matches but he may opt for an alternative approach ahead of a tough encounter at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Marseille v Guingamp Date 10/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Vélodrome – Kick Off 20:00 (UK Time)

One of Ligue 1’s in-form teams hosts a side battling relegation in the last match of the weekend as Marseille take on Guingamp. Les Olympiens’ turn of results was much needed with the second half of the season on the horizon and a six-match unbeaten run has seen them climb to 10th. A win is expected from Marseille and the three points would take them to the brink of the top six. One doubt for the match is Remy Cabella, who has been excellent in recent weeks and he would be a big loss for the home side.

Guingamp’s five consecutive defeats has dragged them into the bottom three to 18th and with the teams around them facing each other at the weekend, they could do with getting a result at the Stade Vélodrome. A win may not even be good enough to lift them out of the bottom three depending on the Reims result, as Guingamp’s goal difference has taken a huge hit over the last five games. Dorian Leveque is the only notable absentee for the visitors if he hasn’t already recovered from his knee injury.

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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