The third international break of the season saw France finally secure their place in the finals of Euro 2020.
Victories over Moldova and Albania might not have been completed with the verve expected of world champions, yet the six points they collected were sufficient to see them overhaul Turkey at the head of Group H and qualify in top position.
While there might not have been too many Ligue 1 players involved with Les Bleus, plenty of the league’s stars have jetted off all over the world to play for their respective nations.
It’s back to club duties at the weekend, and with just 11 points between second and last in Le Championnat, the busy run up to the Christmas break promises to be a thrilling period.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend – PSG vs Lille
Ligue 1 action returns on Friday night with the biggest game of the weekend as Paris Saint-Germain host Lille in a clash between the top two sides from the 2018-19 campaign.
It’s not going quite as well for Christophe Galtier’s men this time around as they juggle European and domestic duties. They have, however, played better than their results would suggest and if they could become just a little more efficient in front of goal, they would be around the standard they set last term.
Unfortunately for LOSC, they travel to the capital without the suspended Victor Osimhen, the leading scorer with seven league goals, while there are doubts over Jonathan Ikone and Boubakary Soumare, too.
PSG face the familiar post-international headaches of players arriving back from South America fatigued, though Mauro Icardi’s absence from the Argentina squad is a blessing in this regards, particularly since Neymar is very unlikely to be ready for this match while Kylian Mbappe has been suffering from a fever that may restrict his game time.
The hosts, however, have looked vulnerable in their last three matches and cannot afford to focus too much on their midweek meeting with Real Madrid if they want to avoid another slip up.
Rest of the Weekend
Lyon’s meeting with Nice is the highlight of Saturday’s action, though it would be understandable if the hosts were pragmatic with their team selection given they have a virtual do-or-die European trip to Zenit on Wednesday.
Later that same day, third place Angers play host to bottom side Nimes, while there is something of a derby between Brest and Nantes, who are seeking to end a four-game losing streak.
Sunday’s action begins with Bordeaux playing host to Monaco. The home side are hampered by suspension problems in defence that may mean Paulo Sousa has to get creative, but Monaco have not played well on the road this season, winning just once. Pietro Pellegri is finally fit again for the principality side.
Saint-Etienne and Montpellier will also do battle. It will be the first time that the guests have been able to launch the formidable quartet of Teji Savanier, Florent Mollet, Gaetan Laborde and Andy Delort from the beginning of a match. With Sainte struggling due to the absences of William Saliba and Yann M’Vila, the guests will be hopeful of a third successive win at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Finally, Toulouse host a Marseille side buoyant after successive wins over Lille and Lyon at home. Andre Villas-Boas’ men have not travelled particularly well this season and are troubled by three defensive suspensions that the hosts hope will open the door to a first home win over OM since 2007.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Yoann Court – Brest – £0.70
It’s remarkable to think that before the start of the season, 29-year-old midfielder Yoann Court only had a mere 25 Ligue 1 appearances to his name.
After thriving for many seasons in Ligue 2 with the likes of Sedan, Troyes, Gazelec Ajaccio and Bourg, he played a leading role in the Breton’s return to the top flight and is playing an even greater part in trying to keep them there.
Just as erstwhile Nimes playmaker Teji Savanier saw his career explode last term after making the step up from the second tier, Court is doing likewise having scored two goals and created seven more. Only Kevin De Bruyne and Luis Alberto have more decisive passes anywhere in Europe.
Thanks to Court’s influence, Brest have exceeded expectations early this season. While they have lost their last two matches, they were unfortunate to go down 2-1 to PSG immediately before the international break. Against a Nantes side that has lost four straight, they will fancy their chances of ending that run and Court is the man most likely to be behind that effort.