Ligue 1 finishes up before the international break after a wretched week for its clubs in Europe. After four successive defeats, Lille managed to regain some pride for France’s top flight with a fine 3-0 win at AC Milan, but what had gone before had been woeful.
Marseille set the tone with an awful performance against Porto, then this was only compounded by Paris Saint-Germain’s reverse against RB Leipzig and Nice’s defeat by Slavia Prague. Rennes, who went down to Chelsea away from home, can at least point to an outrageous red card as having worked against them.
PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel now finds his job under scrutiny, and after Dijon’s Stephane Jobard became the first manager in the league sacked this week, he must fear he will become the second.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Paris Saint-Germain v Rennes
Saturday night’s clash between first against third is the most intriguing of the weekend. PSG, of course, start as significant favourites but will have neither Neymar nor Kylian Mbappe at their disposal, and without that superstar duo are not such an intimidating force.
The pressure is also on the home team due to their poor European form, especially as they could lose the leadership of the table if they were to lose.
It is a match in which they must show a spirit of revolt.
Rennes, meanwhile, inflicted a 2-1 defeat upon PSG when the teams last met, and also upset the Parisians in the Coupe de France final of 2019.
Julien Stephan’s side have lost some of their early-season momentum as the fixture list has become more congested, and they are also set to be without a star in the form of Eduardo Camavinga.
Nevertheless, they will be quietly optimistic of a positive outcome.
Rest of the Weekend
An excellent menu of fixtures this weekend begins with Marseille’s trip to Strasbourg on Friday. Both teams are under pressure ahead of this encounter, with Racing having made their worst start to a Ligue 1 season ever and OM under scrutiny due to their poor midweek display.
Saturday’s early kick-off is a fixture between Bordeaux and Montpellier, who look refreshed by a switch to a 4-3-3 formation.
On Sunday, Brest will try to stop their poor run in the early fixture against a Lille side still undefeated in all competitions this season.
The afternoon multiplex follows, with Lens in action for the first time in three weeks following a coronavirus cluster at the club. They host Reims. Meanwhile, Metz play managerless Dijon, Nimes host Angers and Lorient tackle Nantes in the first of the day’s three local derbies.
Monaco will make the short trip along the Cote d’Azur to play Nice in the early evening kick-off, with Niko Kovac’s side suddenly in good spirits after overcome Bordeaux handsomely last weekend.
The weekend’s action is rounded off with one of France’s greatest derbies: Lyon versus Saint-Etienne. OL start as warm favourites as their opponents have lost five straight in the league, yet Rudi Garcia’s troop continue to be an unpredictable force.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Karl Toko Ekambi – Lyon – £0.65
Lyon forward Karl Toko Ekambi is a man in form. He has wrestled a starting spot away from Moussa Dembele – who is regarded as a derby specialist – and has been at the conclusion of much of his side’s best offensive work over the last month.
Indeed, since the October international break, he has four goals and a single assist in three matches.
Against a Saint-Etienne side with a depleted defence, the 28-year-old has the potential to cause havoc.