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Ligue 1 Preview Gameweek 34

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A better understanding of the top six can be made after this weekend’s games as each of the sides in the European spots face a key encounter.

Lyon v Nice Date 15/04/2016 – Venue – Stade des Lumieres – Kick Off 19:30 (UK Time)

The match of the weekend is on Friday evening as Champions League contenders Lyon and Nice meet at the Stade des Lumieres. With the sides positioned 2nd and 4th respectively, with only two points separating them, this is a big game in the race for a top two finish. Les Gones have won five of their last six matches, closing the gap on Monaco and gaining the advantage due to their superior goal difference. There are no concerns over the side that beat Montpellier last week, so an unchanged Lyon starting eleven can be expected.

With Monaco facing a tough test against Marseille, the three points for Nice would put them in the driving seat for a Champions League place with four games to go. Les Aiglons have just a heavy defeat to PSG between four wins in their last five games, so they travel to Lyon as another in-form side. No injuries or suspensions for Nice means Claude Puel has plenty of options; Hatem Ben Arfa’s hat-trick last weekend in the comfortable victory against Rennes is a positive for the visitors.

Paris Saint-Germain v Caen Date 16/04/2016 – Venue – Parc des Princes – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

Caen are still in touch with the top six as they sit five points short in 9th, however a tough trip to the Parc des Princes on Saturday suggests their dreams could soon be over. Les Parisians though, may be slightly despondent after their Champions League exit; losing to Manchester City midweek. PSG’s last victory came away at Guingamp and they will look to make it three on the bounce against Caen, especially with Marco Verratti being the only notable injury.

Disappointing defeats to Toulouse and Lorient in the last two means Caen have slipped out of contention for a place in the European spots. This is more of a bonus game for the visitors as very few teams travel to the home of the champions and expect to win. The three points would give Caen a huge amount of confidence for the final few games should the cause an upset. Bad news for the away side is that Emmanuel Imorou has ruptured his Achilles tendon, ending his season.

Bastia v Saint-Étienne Date 16/04/2016 – Venue – Stade Armand Cesari- Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Another side facing a big match this weekend is Saint-Étienne, as they look to stamp their name on a place in the European places. Les Verts travel to Bastia, who, after an inconsistent run of form sit 11th in the Ligue 1 standings. Three successive wins and clean sheets have taken Saint-Étienne to 6th; a win could take them as high as 4th by the end of the weekend and they could even be in contention for a Champions League place. Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and Alexander Soderlund are reportedly injured ahead of this game.

Bastia’s last three outings have involved a draw, a win and a loss, against Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulouse; all equally surprising results. Last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Toulouse was particularly shocking for Bastia and they will look to get more points on the board on home turf on Saturday. They will be without the suspended Yannick Cahuzac for this encounter, while Sebastien Squillaci has picked up a thigh injury so will be unavailable.

Bordeaux v Angers Date 16/04/2016 – Venue – Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Angers travel to the Nouveaux Stade de Bordeaux on Saturday as both teams are looking for a high finish to the campaign. The hosts are 12th in the league and have virtually secured their top flight status after avoiding defeat in their last three games; the last match was a goalless draw with Marseille to keep them above Les Olympiens. No recent injuries or suspensions means Bordeaux may name an unchanged line-up.

The visitors are still in with a shout of making the top six but they will have to win at least three out of the last five matches. Angers are 8th and five points short of the European spots; after a poor run of form they have returned to winning ways in recent weeks, taking seven points from the last possible nine. Vincent Manceau could be spending the match on the sidelines for Angers as he is recovering from an adductor strain.

Gazélec Ajaccio v Lille Date 16/04/2016 – Venue – Stade Ange Casanova – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

This is a big match for very different reasons as Gazélec, struggling for their lives in 18th, welcome Lille, who are sitting 7th and pushing for a European place. The visitors have impressively turned their season around by winning their last five matches, scoring 12 goals and conceding just two. If Les Dogues can keep up their form for just a few more games, they will undoubtedly make the top six. If they are going to win this weekend, they will have to do it without the suspended Renato Civelli and the injured Eric Bautheac; both of whom have had huge parts in Lille’s season.

These are testing times for Gazélec as they have Toulouse fast approaching them and Reims are starting to slip away to safety. The hosts remain two points from safety but there are still at least three teams above the relegation zone considered to be in danger. David Ducourtioux is the latest absentee for Gazélec as he is forced out with a toe injury.

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Lorient v Toulouse Date 16/04/2016 – Venue – Stade du Moustoir – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Lorient are quite fortunate to be almost safe from relegation in 13th because the visit of Toulouse is a potentially difficult game for them. Les Pitchouns have won their last two games, defeating Caen and Bastia, scoring six goals and keeping two clean sheets. Avoiding relegation looked almost impossible a month ago, but now just four points from safety, Toulouse have given themselves a mighty chance of achieving the unlikely. With no forced changes, Pascal Dupraz will most likely name last week’s starting eleven.

The hosts ended a four-match winless run last weekend with a victory away at Caen. Les Merlus are currently eight points above the bottom three and with only five games to go, they are as good as safe. They will therefore be aiming for a top half finish and this is a game they are expected to win. A downside for Lorient is that Yann Jouffre may still be out of action as he is recovering from an injury.

Troyes v Reims Date 16/04/2016 – Venue – Stade de l’Aube – Kick Off 19:00 (UK Time)

Another big relegation match is at the Stade de l’Aube where already-relegated Troyes have the chance of dragging Reims into the bottom three with them. Last week’s victory over Nantes saw Reims move two points ahead of Gazélec and close the gap on the teams above them to give them hope of survival. The fixture list has been good to the visitors as Troyes now have nothing to play for so Reims will be content with nothing but the three points. Diego Rigonato remains the most notable absentee as he will miss this game through an adductor strain.

Troyes have lost their last seven games and while their season is over, they have the opportunity to shape the campaign for the sides still striving to achieve something. In this instance, they can deal a huge blow to Reims in their quest of Ligue 1 survival. There are no recent concerns over the Troyes team.

Nantes v Montpellier Date 17/04/2016 – Venue – Stade de la Beaujoire – Kick Off 13:00 (UK Time)

Nantes take on Montpellier in Sunday’s opening match and it is a huge game for the visitors. La Paillade travel to the Stade de la Beaujoire on the back of five games without a win and they are only three points above the danger zone in 16th. Their last match was a 2-0 defeat at home to Lyon, a game they weren’t expected to get a result out of but they need to get back to winning ways at Nantes if they are going to stand any chance of surviving this season. Mathieu Deplagne and Jamel Saihi are the latest Montpellier players to be ruled out through injury.

Nantes are just trying to achieve the highest finish possible this season as they are safe from relegation and unlikely to make the European spots, sitting 10th. Three consecutive defeats to Lyon, Lille and Reims however, means Les Canaris need a swift change in form to make a positive end to the season. Yacine Bammou is suspended for Nantes, joining Remy Riou and Alejandro Bedoya on the list of absentees.

Rennes v Guingamp Date 17/04/2016 – Venue – Roazhon Park – Kick Off 16:00 (UK Time)

Rennes are dealt a must-win game in their hunt for European football as they welcome Guingamp to Roazhon Park on Sunday. The hosts are 5th in the Ligue 1 table, four points behind Lyon in 2nd but they will look to get over last week’s 3-0 defeat to Nice with the three points in this game. While Rennes still have a lot of work to do, they probably have the least pressure on them to make the Champions League. Rolland Courbis has almost a fully fit squad to select from when making his team selection for this encounter.

Guingamp are still in slight danger of relegation as they sit 15th, just five points above the bottom three. They looked to be in a respectable position a matter of weeks ago but a draw with Montpellier and a loss to PSG has put them back amongst the relegation mix. There are no new concerns over the Guingamp side, meaning a similar starting line-up to the one that faced Les Parisians can be expected.

Monaco v Marseille Date 17/04/2016 – Venue – Stade Louis II – Kick Off 20:00 (UK Time)

At the start of the season, it was thought neither of these sides would be in a relegation battle with five games to go but that is the case for Marseille in 14th; Monaco however are where they belong, challenging for the Champions League in 3rd. The hosts have been put under pressure in recent weeks and have caved to Lyon, with Nice, Rennes and Saint-Étienne in pursuit, so there is still a lot of drama to come between now and the end of the campaign. Monaco have lost their last two games and were on the end of a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Lille last weekend, which may have knocked their confidence ahead of this one. Star man Joao Moutinho remains absent with an injury, while Uwa Echiejile misses the game though suspension.

Les Olympiens are in unknown territory at the moment as they remain six points above the relegation zone. The only positive for Marseille at the minute is their positive goal difference, but they will be hoping it won’t be needed come May. A loss at the Stade Louis II would really put the visitors in danger, especially if results elsewhere go against them. Romain Alessandrini is suspended for the trip to Monaco and Lassana Diarra has been ruled out with a knee injury.

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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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