As Matchday of round 11 approaches, the Ligue 1 table continues to have a jumbled-up look, despite Paris Saint-Germain maintaining their familiar position at the summit of the standings.
On-going struggles of Lyon, who are incredibly 17th in the standings after taking six points from their opening two games, and Lille were highlighted by their midweek Champions League performances. OL suffered an all-too-familiar late lapse to lose away to Benfica, jeopardising their qualification hopes, while Lille were inefficient against Valencia and had to rely on a fine late strike from Jonathan Ikone to salvage a point in a game they really should have won.
PSG’s steamrollering of Club Brugge away from home, meanwhile, was typical of their excellent recent form that has them leading the way in Le Championnat by five points over Nantes.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Paris Saint-Germain vs Marseille
The headline clash of the weekend is historically between the two greatest rivals in French football. OM boss Andre Villas-Boas was, however, keen to stress that he does not see this as a ‘Clasico’ due to the one-sided nature of the rivalry against his club in recent times.
Marseille have not beaten their great foes since a 3-0 home success in November 2011, a run of 19 fixtures, in which they have secured draws only on three occasions.
It is a humiliating statistic for the proud Provence club and one that highlights just how far they have fallen behind PSG.
Although Villas-Boas is certainly not working miracles at Stade Velodrome – suggesting that stopping their winless run against the Parisians will be a bridge too far this weekend – he has them handily positioned in fourth in the standings, despite the on-going absence of Florian Thauvin, who is not expected back until the new year.
Dimitri Payet will return for Sunday’s clash, providing a welcome offensive boost to a side that has leaned all-too heavily on Dario Benedetto’s poaching instincts for goals this season.
PSG, meanwhile, certainly have not been struggling in front of the net. They have scored 13 times in their last three games, despite being without Neymar due to a thigh problem. Their second-half display in Belgium, meanwhile, was an ominous sign for their rivals.
Rest of the Weekend:
Elsewhere, the weekend begins with second-placed Nantes hosting an improving Monaco side that is still struggling away from home. Leonardo Jardim’s side have either been spectacularly good or spectacularly poor, with their suspect defence continuing to undermine their push up the standings.
Saturday’s early kick-off between Lille and Bordeaux also promises to be an interesting affair, though Christophe Galtier’s side have excelled at home this term and will hope that trend continues.
The pick of the evening matches is Lyon’s home match against Metz – a fixture that they are under tremendous pressure to win, else potentially drop into the bottom three, which would be an embarrassing start for Rudi Garcia, who faces a tough job to win over a hostile home crowd.
Third-placed Reims, meanwhile, host struggling Nimes, while Strasbourg will hope to move off the foot of the standings.
Sunday’s matches see Europa League sides Rennes and Saint-Etienne host Toulouse and Amiens before the main event.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Kylian Mbappe (£6.51)
He may be one of the most expensive players on the Index at £6.51 at the time of writing, but even half fit over the course of the last week, he has shown exactly why.
Records continue to tumble at the will of the 20-year-old World Cup winner, who this week became the youngest player ever to reach 15 Champions League goals and also the netted the quickest hat-trick from a substitute in the same competition.
Mbappe, who has not been able to start either of PSG’s last two games as he is nursed back from a hamstring complaint, has incredibly scored four and laid on another two in his last 45 minutes of competitive football. Since coming back from his initial complaint, he has contributed to a goal on average ever 15 minutes.
Following Tuesday’s victory, he said: “I wanted to show that it’s hard to do without me.”
He may be without a start in the last two months, but head coach Thomas Tuchel surely cannot ignore him from the beginning of Sunday’s big match against Marseille, particularly with Neymar’s absence ongoing.
And with Mbappe still desperate to prove a point, that does not bode well for OM.