This week saw the end of arguably the most disappointing group phase of European competition from French clubs in recent memory.
Marseille, Rennes and Nice failed to even show a semblance of competitiveness in their respective pools, while Paris Saint-Germain had to wait until the last day before sealing their place in the last 16 of the Champions League last 16.
Only Lille really impressed as they progressed in the Europa League, although their achievements were somewhat tarnished by a defeat to Celtic on matchday six that allowed Milan to leapfrog them and win the group.
It’s back to domestic action at the weekend, though, with a fraught 12-day spell set to see four matchdays completed as the tournament races to catch up on time lost to the Covid-19 crisis.
Match of the Weekend: Paris Saint-Germain vs Lyon
There is no doubt about where the pick of the weekend’s matches come. Paris Saint-Germain will host Lyon at Parc des Princes on Sunday in what promises to be an intriguing encounter.
PSG’s preparations for the fixture were disrupted by unexpectedly losing a day due to the racism storm that surrounded their Champions League clash with Basaksehir. Thomas Tuchel’s side were close to their best as they ran out 5-1 winners a day late, with Neymar scoring three and Kylian Mbappe netting a brace.
After overcoming Montpellier with a much-changed side last weekend, PSG deservedly top the standings but their lead is not as comprehensive as it typically is by this juncture.
Indeed, third-placed Lyon will go top with a win in the capital, with Rudi Garcia’s side benefitting from their lack of European football to mount the beginnings of a credible championship tilt. Just how serious it is will be learned on Sunday.
OL should have a strong squad for the affair, although they will have to do with the suspended Rayan Cherki, who was incredibly harshly sent off in the 3-1 win over Metz last weekend.
Ligue 1: Matchday 14
The action kicks off on Friday, with embattled Saint-Etienne playing host to an Angers side in good form. Both teams are depleted. Sainte will be without Panagiotis Retsos once more in their defence, while their guests need to reshuffle after injuries to Sofiane Boufal and Ibrahim Amadou.
Saturday’s early kick off promises to be a cracker, as Marseille and Monaco do battle at Stade Velodrome. OM are four points off the pace but have two games in hand over PSG and they have continued their knack of picking up ugly points this term. Monaco, meanwhile, saw their good run ended by Lille last Sunday.
Later on Saturday, Lens host Montpellier.
Sunday’s first match is a duel between European flops Nice and Rennes, both of whom are completely out of form.
The pick of the multiplex fixtures is the derby between Strasbourg and Metz, while Lorient and Nimes play an important relegation game. Brest also host Reims while Nantes, who sacked Christian Gourcuff this week, play bottom side Dijon.
Lille will attempt to bounce back from their second defeat of the season in midweek against a Bordeaux team coming off a couple of impressive performances.
Player to Watch: Hatem Ben Arfa (46p)
Hatem Ben Arfa’s return to France has been spectacular, and within two months he has already made himself a fulcrum of the Bordeaux attack.
He has taken a previously uninspired offence and has brought some much-needed spark to it. Already he is Bordeaux’s key figure.
Head coach Jean-Louis Gasset has claimed that he is still only truly fit for 70 minutes of matches, yet that was not evident last weekend as he took it upon himself to score the winning goal against Brest. A fortnight earlier, he had also netted the winner against Rennes, while he squeezed in an assist versus PSG in between times.