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Ligue 1 Preview Gameweek 22

There are some important matches for the sides in Ligue 1 this weekend as the out-of-form teams have opportunities to push to meet their season objectives.

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Rennes v Gazélec Ajaccio Date 22/01/2016 – Venue – Roazhon Park – Kick Off 19:30 (UK Time)

Rennes and Gazélec kick off the weekend’s action at Roazhon Park as the two sides in good form look to extend their unbeaten runs. Rennes have avoided defeat in their last five outings with the most recent result being a 4-2 victory at Troyes, after coming back from two goals down. They have moved up to 6th in the league and a win on Friday evening could take them as high as 3rd. Juan Fernando Quintero is a doubt with a hamstring issue, but there are no more recent concerns over the side.

Visitors Gazélec are still on a remarkable run; their string of results over the last ten games is almost on par with PSG as no other side has gone on a run like this during the campaign. They are currently 13th in the league standings and would climb the table rapidly if they could just convert some of their draws to wins. Gazélec are without some key players however; Jerome Lemoigne and David Ducourtioux are suspended for this match and Gregory Pujol could also be sidelined with a calf problem.

Paris Saint-Germain v Angers Date 23/01/2016 – Venue – Parc des Princes – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

If PSG can keep playing the way they are and avoid what would be a huge slump in form, they can more or less count down the days until they are crowned champions once again. With a 21-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 PSG can be comforted by knowing they can lose seven straight matches and still hold on to top spot. Their opponents this week are not going to be as easy to brush off however as Angers ended their win streak with a 0-0 draw a couple of months back and they could well pose a threat to PSG’s five-match winning run on Saturday. Thiago Silva is a doubt for Les Parisians with a knee problem, while Angel Di Maria’s foot injury, Javier Pastore’s ankle problem and Marquinhos’ adductor issue also make them unlikely starters.

Angers have only lost five matches all season but four of them have come in the last ten matches; suggesting they may not hold onto 3rd place for much longer unless they can find the consistency once again. They will go into this game full of confidence after keeping PSG at bay in the reverse fixture. Thomas Mangani isn’t certain to start the game and he would be a big miss as the influential midfielder has featured in 20 of Angers’ league games this season.

Guingamp v Bastia Date 23/01/2016 – Venue – Stade du Roudourou – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Bastia may have created a bit of a gap between themselves and the relegation zone with last week’s win against Montpellier but a defeat at Guingamp would drag them right back into the mix again. They have won two of their last three games versus fellow relegation contenders and are four points clear of the bottom three in 15th. Seko Fofana will not feature in this match after being dismissed last weekend and Florian Raspentino is unlikely to be involved after being in a traffic accident.

Strugglers Guingamp desperately need this win to avoid falling even further behind Bastia. Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men are 18th in the league and a win could possibly take them out of the relegation zone, not to mention taking them to within a point of Bastia. Younousse Sankhare is suspended after receiving a late red card last week but there are no further concerns over the side that drew with Nantes.

Lille v Troyes Date 23/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Pierre-Mauroy – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Bottom of the league Troyes will be devastated that they chucked a two-goal lead away against Rennes last weekend to lose the game 4-2. They travel to Lille still in search of their first Ligue 1 win this season. Unless they get one within the next few games, it looks unlikely they’ll survive as the 14-point gap to safety may have even extended. Thomas Ayasse may be out of action with a calf strain and Dusan Veskovac’s adductor issue may keep him sidelined for Troyes.

Lille’s fightback was short-lived because despite winning three successive matches, their last three have left them without a win; the most recent result being a loss to Bordeaux. Les Dogues are right in the middle of the action, just four points above the danger zone but six short of the top six, so their campaign could still go either way. Lille’s only notable absentee may be Florent Balmont who is recovering from a hamstring injury.

Montpellier v Caen Date 23/01/2016 – Venue – Stade de la Mosson – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Two sides that have been struggling in recent weeks meet at the Stade de la Mosson as Montpellier host Caen. The home side have lost their last three games; all 1-0 defeats to Nice, Bordeaux and Bastia, and as a result they have dropped down to 16th, just one point above the relegation zone. La Paillade will be without Daniel Congre who was sent off in the previous game.

A couple of weeks back Caen would have posed a much bigger threat to Montpellier but after a run of tough fixtures, they have fallen to 7th after going six games without a win. If they are going to put themselves in realistic contention for a European place they will need to start winning again to get them back into the top six, starting with three points against a despondent Montpellier side. The absentees for Caen include Damien Da Silva who is still out with a hamstring injury, while Herve Bazile’s groin issue may keep him on the sideline too.

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Nantes v Bordeaux Date 23/01/2016 – Venue – Stade de la Beaujoire – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

A mid-table clash takes place at the Stade de la Beaujoire as 10th place Bordeaux visit 11th place Nantes. Both teams are in good form at the moment with Bordeaux going five games unbeaten in the league and Nantes beating that run with seven. Les Canaris’ streak consisted of a triumph over Saint-Étienne amongst six draws so if they were to convert the one point games into three points, it would hugely strengthen their league position. Emiliano Sala may still be out for Nantes but there are no further issues over the regular starting eleven.

The key to Bordeaux’s recent success as been the solidity of their defence; Les Girondins have conceded just two goals in their last five outings. They face Nantes in a match that is difficult to call; a cliché prediction is that the winner will be the team that is the best on the day. Both teams will be attacking but Bordeaux’s defensive record and their experience in contending for Europe may give them the edge in this one. Nicolas Pallois completes the final match of his suspension this weekend and while Wahbi Khazri served a suspension in the cup and will be back for this game.

Nice v Lorient Date 23/01/2016 – Venue – Allianz Riviera – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

High-flying Nice will look to bolster their European challenge against Lorient on Saturday. Les Aiglons are currently 4th in Ligue 1 and with star man Hatem Ben Arfa looking to be back in form, they will be hoping to be in the top three after the match. There are no concerns over the side that beat Angers last weekend, but Nice will look to be more convincing against Lorient after only getting the three points in the previous game thanks to two penalty decisions.

Lorient’s inconsistent form recently has seen them slip to 12th in the table but a positive not is that they are closer to the top six than they are to the relegation zone. Sylvain Ripoll’s side face a tough test at the Allianz Riviera against a Nice side that have found their goal scoring form again. Hamstring strains will still be keeping Benjamin Moukandjo and Majeed Waris from the Lorient starting eleven; two key players that Lorient have missed over the last month.

Monaco v Toulouse Date 24/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Louis II – Kick Off 13:00 (UK Time)

A European contender takes on a relegation battler in Sunday’s first match as second-top Monaco welcome second-bottom Toulouse to the Stade Louis II. Toulouse will be feeling even more hard done by after they lost at PSG in the Coupe de France midweek because of a last minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty. They travel to the south-coast in the hope of causing an upset and hoping to get out of the bottom three. Zinedine Machach has recently been ruled out for Toulouse with a shoulder injury.

Monaco have gone unbeaten in eight games and have regained second spot, though they are still 21 points behind leaders PSG. Leonardo Jardim’s side are still leaking goals here and there so Toulouse have an opportunity to exploit the Monaco defence. Jeremy Toulalan is Ligue 1’s latest victim of a hamstring problem and Ivan Cavaleiro may also miss out due to lumbago.

Reims v Saint-Étienne Date 24/01/2016 – Venue – Stade Auguste Delaune – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

Saint-Étienne will be looking to build upon last week’s victory over Lyon as they push for a high finish in the second half of the season. Les Verts are somehow still 5th in the league despite losing five out of their last ten matches, but they have won the games that matter against the top sides to keep them in contention for a Champions League place. They travel to Reims who are struggling in 17th place; a game they must win to stay in touch with Monaco. Vincent Pajot will be completing his suspension in Thursday’s cup game against Ajaccio, but Romain Hamouma, Oussama Tannane and Nolan Roux may be missing for the league encounter.

A visit from a European giant isn’t exactly what Reims need at the moment as they have failed to beat even the teams below them over the last couple of weeks, hence their league position has plummeted. With the pressure on however, they will need to perform and they could well exploit Saint-Étienne’s frailties on Sunday. Antoine Devaux may be suspended for Reims after being dismissed in the draw with Gazélec Ajaccio.

Lyon v Marseille Date 24/01/2016 – Venue – Stade des Lumieres – Kick Off 20:00 (UK Time)

Lyon are involved in the game of the weekend once again as they welcome Marseille to the new Stade des Lumieres. Both sides are level with 29 points; Marseille have the upper hand in 8th with a stronger goal difference than 9th place Lyon. Les Gones have lost six of their last eight games and have really been struggling so Marseille will view this as a great time to play Lyon. Henri Bedimo may still be sidelined with an ankle problem but there are no further concerns for Lyon.

Les Olympiens have drawn a number of games over the last couple of months but have gone eight games undefeated nonetheless. Their previous game was a respectable 3-1 victory at Caen and the result will give them confidence to take advantage of a disheartened Lyon. With only Lucas Ocampos and Benjamin Mendy as the only notable absentees, Marseille have no issues and may name the same starting eleven as last week.

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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