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Ligue 1 Preview Gameweek 29

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It’s the final ten games of the season for the majority of Ligue 1 sides, meaning the title could soon be decided and the destiny of those in a relegation battle will become apparent.

Caen v Monaco Date 04/03/2016 – Venue – Stade Michel d’Ornano – Kick Off 19:30 (UK Time)

Caen take on Monaco in the first match of the weekend at the Stade Michel d’Ornano and it is going to be a big test for both sides in a battle for the European places. The hosts will be full of confidence after their away win at Saint-Étienne last weekend which took them up to 4th, while Monaco remain 2nd after dropping points against Nantes. A win for Caen would take them to within five points of Friday’s opposition. One downside for Patrice Garande is that talisman Andy Delort is suspended and won’t be available for selection.

Despite being eight points clear of 3rd place, Monaco can be weary as the cracks are beginning to show and Lyon lurk over their shoulders. They have gone unbeaten in five games but the performances against Troyes and Nantes weren’t convincing. This could be due to losing Bernardo Silva through a thigh injury and he will still be sidelined for this game. Nabil Dirar is reportedly serving the last match of his suspension on Friday evening too.

Paris Saint-Germain v Montpellier Date 05/03/2016 – Venue – Parc des Princes – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

A win against Lyon last weekend would have given PSG an opportunity to wrap up the title this week, but the loss at the Stade des Lumieres meant they had to wait. With ten games remaining, Les Parisians are 23 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 so they will secure their status as champions within the next few weeks. Angel Di Maria may still be out of action with a thigh injury, while Marco Verratti is still struggling to gain match fitness.

Three consecutive wins for Montpellier has got them out of a relegation battle for now, although one loss could change everything at the bottom of the French top flight. La Paillade travel to the Parc des Princes on the back of an emphatic 3-0 victory over Lille, so they won’t be short of confidence heading to the capital. Montpellier are currently 14th in the table but a win could take them into the top half if results elsewhere go their way. There are no notable absentees for the visitors, meaning Frederic Hantz may name an unchanged side.

Angers v Saint-Étienne Date 05/03/2016 – Venue – Stade Jean Bouin – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

As expected, Angers’ form has dropped right off and they have fallen to 9th after picking up just one point from the last 15 available. They take on a Saint-Étienne side who are also struggling for form and the hosts will be boosted by Les Verts’ home loss to Caen last time around. A win for Angers could see them climb back into the top six, so their season hasn’t seen the last of the twists and turns. If the hosts are going to get the three points, they will have to do it without the suspended Cheikh N’Doye and the injured Pierrick Capelle, who picked up a tibia injury after scoring against Guingamp last weekend.

The failure to win in their last three games means Saint-Étienne have slipped outside of the top six in 7th, although the games were against Monaco, Marseille and Caen. Les Verts have nothing to be concerned about as of yet, as a victory could take them up to 3rd but a loss at the Stade Jean Bouin would definitely cast a shadow of doubt. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck remains sidelined with a hamstring problem, while Romain Hamouma may still be recovering from his calf injury.

Bastia v Lorient Date 05/03/2016 – Venue – Stade Armand Cesari – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

A mid-table clash takes place on Saturday as 10th place Lorient visit 11th place Bastia. Both sides have hit a bit of form in recent weeks but only one goal separates them in the league table. Lorient have won their last two versus Guingamp and Troyes; although they have the ability to score goals, Les Merlus have the third-worst defensive record in the league and this will give Bastia hope. Lamine Gassama is expected to return following a suspension, but Yann Jouffre and Benjamin Moukandjo may still be sidelined through injury for Lorient.

Bastia’s goal record is quite the opposite of Lorient’s; they have the joint fifth-best defence in the top flight but only Lille and Troyes have scored less than Les Bleus. This makes Saturday’s encounter a difficult one to predict but Bastia’s three successive wins, keeping three clean sheets in the process, may give them the edge in this game, not to mention the home advantage. Julian Palmieri remains the only absentee for Bastia but almost the entire starting eleven from last weekend will be available to face Lorient.

Bordeaux v Gazélec Ajaccio Date 05/03/2016 – Venue – Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Bordeaux welcome Gazélec in what could be a big game in the relegation dogfight. The visitors found themselves four points adrift from safety last weekend, as they remain 18th after their match against Marseille was postponed. They are in desperate need of a win this weekend because it would get them back amongst the pack at the bottom and drag Bordeaux into the mix. Issiaga Sylla is set to complete the final game of his suspension on Saturday but Gazélec have no further concerns over the side.

The heavy loss at Reims last weekend meant Bordeaux dropped to 12th as they failed to do Gazélec a favour. A win for Les Girondins on Saturday would surely rule them out of a relegation battle, whereas a loss would see Gazélec close the gap to six points with the Corsicans having a game in hand. It is difficult to predict which Bordeaux side is going to show up as inconsistency has been a huge part of their campaign. Another factor of an unsuccessful season lies in the number of absentees as Bordeaux have the longest list of sidelined players in Ligue 1. Cheick Diabate is the latest casualty and he joins Jaroslav Plasil, Cedric Carrasso and Nicolas Maurice-Belay on the injury list.

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Lille v Reims Date 05/03/2016 – Venue – Stade Pierre-Mauroy – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

The excitement of the relegation fight means this match between Lille and Reims is massive, as just two points separate the hosts in 15th from the visitors in 17th. Les Dogues had a good run and went five games unbeaten before losing 3-0 against Montpellier last weekend. They remain six points above the bottom three but have played a game more than Gazélec; a defeat to Reims would really give them something to think about. Eric Bautheac remains suspended for Lille, while star man Sofiane Boufal may still be out with a knee injury and Renato Civelli’s ankle problem may keep him out of this match.

Another thing for Lille to worry about is a sudden surge in form from their opposition. Reims suffered back-to-back defeats before last weekend, including a 4-1 thrashing at the Parc des Princes. They responded with a 4-1 victory of their own however, dismantling Bordeaux on home turf to give them hope of Ligue 1 survival. The only issues for Reims are that Prince Oniangue and Mickael Tacalfred have been ruled out with hamstring problems.

Nice v Troyes Date 05/03/2016 – Venue – Allianz Riviera – Kick Off 13:00 (UK Time)

After four games without a win, Nice are fortunate to still be in contention for a European spot as they sit 5th. They have a great opportunity to get back to winning ways this weekend when bottom club Troyes visit the Allianz Riviera. Les Aiglons had a tough run of fixtures when playing Monaco, Marseille and Bordeaux, but last weekend’s home loss to Bastia is especially disappointing. They need to be winning those sort of games if they are hoping for a high finish in this campaign. The key factor in Nice’s dip in form has been Hatem Ben Arfa’s hamstring injury, but he might be back next week after this game marks almost a month on the sideline. Paul Baysse and Vincent Koziello will also miss this game through suspension.

It may be too late for Troyes to salvage their top flight status as they remain 18 points from safety, meaning they’d need to win six out of the last ten just to give them a little hope. They are playing to save some pride and dignity now and if they can put a string of results together they could possibly overtake Toulouse. Fabien Camus is suspended for this match but there are no further issues regarding Mohamed Bradja’s team selection.

Marseille v Toulouse Date 06/03/2016 – Venue – Stade Vélodrome – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

After their game against Gazélec was postponed, Marseille have a lot of ground to make up as they dropped to 13th in the league standings. This is a game Les Olympiens should be winning comfortably and if they get into the top half of the table this weekend, they could need a win in their game in hand to get into the top six. Ligue 1 is that tight this season, two wins for Marseille could see them climb from 13th to 3rd if results go their way this week. Nicolas N’Koulou remains the only notable played missing from this match, as this is the last game of his suspension.

The late loss against Rennes last weekend may have been the final straw for Toulouse. A win would have given them heaps of confidence but conceding two goals in stoppage time to lose the game will leave them extremely downhearted. The result also forced Dominique Arribage to resign as the club’s manager. Les Pitchouns are now ten points from safety and that could prove to be an irrecoverable position. One positive for Toulouse is that they have no injury concerns or suspensions within the squad, meaning they have a fully fit squad available for selection.

Rennes v Nantes Date 06/03/2016 – Venue – Roazhon Park – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

The game of the weekend is at Roazhon Park where Rennes welcome Nantes; two sides that are surprisingly contesting the top sides for a place in the European spots. The visitors are in a remarkable position and thanks to Lyon’s victory over PSG, Nantes now have the longest unbeaten run in Ligue 1 at the moment. Les Canaris are 8th in the table and a win on Sunday could take them as high as 3rd, plus they still have a game in hand to play against Bastia. They will be especially confident after keeping Monaco at bay in the previous game and with Adrien Thomasson being the only key player missing, Nantes are becoming the team to watch.

Rennes on the other hand, haven’t had a long spell of unbeaten games but they are winning the important matches against the teams below them, which is why they are 6th in the league. Their position is only on goal difference however, as Nice are above them and Saint-Étienne are below them, both level on 41 points. Paul-Georges Ntep will be forced to sit this encounter out as he is recovering from a tibia injury.

Lyon v Guingamp Date 06/03/2016 – Venue – Stade des Lumieres – Kick Off 20:00 (UK Time)

Lyon will be full of self-belief after becoming the first team to defeat PSG in the league this season and this will do Les Gones a large amount of good in their pursuit of Monaco for Champions League football. They host a Guingamp side who have struggled in recent weeks and have leaked goals; a boost for Lyon as their players have found their scoring boots over the last month. They are eight points behind Monaco so the run in to the last game of the season is an important one for Lyon. Les Gones will be without the suspended Jordan Ferri, alongside Mathieu Valbuena and Corentin Tolisso who are struggling with thigh and hamstring problems respectively.

After going four matches without a win and conceding ten goals in their last three games, Guingamp won’t be very hopeful travelling to the Stade des Lumieres. They are 16th in the league and will be reliant on Marseille to beat Gazélec in their game in hand; otherwise they could be very close to the danger zone come the end of the season. Nicolas Benezet looks to be sidelined with an injury for Guingamp, while Jeremy Sorbon is still out of action and will miss the trip to Lyon.

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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