Ligue 1’s non-European competitors have had a busy midweek in which they have been involved in the Coupe de la Ligue.
Nice were the victims of the biggest shock as they slumped to a 3-2 loss against Ligue 2 strugglers Le Mans away from home, despite Patrick Vieira deploying almost a full-strength side. With the Cote d’Azur side having struggled in recent league fixtures, they are teetering on a full-blown crisis.
The most eye-catching result otherwise was Nantes’ stunning 8-0 demolition of Paris FC. While the gulf between the two sides in the ladder is significant, it was a remarkable result given the hosts had scored only nine times in their 11 Ligue 1 fixtures.
Meanwhile, with the ‘weaker’ sides busy in action, the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Lille and Lyon will look to profit from a welcome midweek off when they take to the field over the weekend.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Marseille vs Lille
Saturday’s early kick-off pits Andre Villas-Boas’ Marseille side against third-placed Lille.
Without threatening to impress, OM have managed to climb to seventh in the standings, though last weekend’s thumping 4-0 loss against PSG – which really could have been even heavier – left them in no doubt just how far behind the country’s best sides they are.
A further reminder arrived on Wednesday, when they were well beaten 2-1 in Monaco, with Villas-Boas’ strongest available XI going down against an opponent that rotated significantly.
Marseille are a club that are only ever a couple of results from crisis, and that is particularly true after such a flat start to the campaign. They are chronically missing Florian Thauvin, while they are over reliant on Dario Benedetto for goals.
The weekend’s match with Lille, though, provides an opportunity for partial redemption. Christophe Galtier’s side are lying third purely on behalf of their home form, which accounts for 16 of the 18 points they have won, while they have only scored three times on their travels.
Top scorer Victor Osimhen is a doubt, though the way a new 3-4-3 formation functioned in recent matches against Valencia and Bordeaux provides the guests with a source of optimism.
Rest of the Weekend:
By that point, PSG will surely have extended their lead at the summit of the standings to 11 points. Thomas Tuchel’s men have looked brilliant in recent matches and on Friday night begin the weekend with a trip to bottom side Dijon.
The highlight of Saturday evening, meanwhile, is Lyon’s trip to Toulouse, with Rudi Garcia desperate to build on the momentum of last weekend’s 2-0 win over Metz.
Sunday’s fixtures, meanwhile, are an intriguing bunch. Bordeaux, who have slipped down the table in recent weeks, host a buoyant Nantes side, while Nice are under pressure when they face in-form Reims at the Allianz Riviera.
Finally, Saint-Etienne, who have tightened up under Claude Puel, play Monaco, who have shown signs of the potential they hold in recent weeks but have yet to display what they are capable of on a consistent basis away from home.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Moses Simon (£0.72)
Nigeria international attacker Moses Simon stole the show in Nantes’ midweek rout of Ligue 2 side Paris FC by bagging himself a hat-trick, and he will be aiming to continue such form in Bordeaux.
The 24-year-old, who is currently trading at just 72p on the Index, is gradually establishing himself as one of the most important players in Christian Gourcuff’s system, where he is deployed out on the wing and after his Wednesday exploits is a sure starter in Sunday’s clash.
Although they have narrowly lost their last two Ligue 1 fixtures, Nantes are a side high in confidence after a strong start to the season and they will hope to profit from Bordeaux’s recent lapse, which has seen them lost three of their last four in the top flight.
Simon is a player capable of punishing them, either by scoring himself or by teeing up dangerous team-mate Kalifa Coulibaly.