Ligue 1 Preview: Match Day 17

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Kylian Mbappe’s brilliant backheel was the outstanding moment of the midweek round of games, with the Paris Saint-Germain attacker having been tipped to have scored the goal of the season as he broke open what was a tight match against Nantes.

PSG would go on to win 2-0, with Neymar converting late from the penalty spot as the two superstars started a match together for the first time in more than six months.

But Marseille showed an appetite to make a fist of the title race as they won their fifth successive match to keep their great rivals in view ahead of round 17.

Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Marseille vs Bordeaux

Sunday night’s fixture sees one of the unlikely derbies of French football reignite as Andre Villas-Boas’ Marseille side chase a six successive Ligue 1 victory at home against a Bordeaux side that has installed itself to be third in the standings.

While OM infamously struggle away from home against the Garonne side – they have not won in Bordeaux since 1977, a run of 36 matches – they are a good deal better back at the Velodrome, where they will have a full-strength squad minus only Florian Thauvin.

They have shown tactically versatility over the last week, overwhelming Brest with their attacking play last weekend before a far more pragmatic approach to overcome Angers away from home on Tuesday, and confidence is on the up as Dimitri Payet returns to something like his best level.

The same can be said of Paulo Sousa’s Bordeaux. Critics circled towards the end of last season as he made the worst start of any coach of the club ever, but they have impressed in recent weeks, notably knocking six past Nimes in midweek. With four goals in two games, Josh Maja is their man to watch.

Rest of the Round

Lille play Brest early on Friday before Nimes host Lyon in fixtures moved forward to allow the clubs extra time to prepare for the Champions League. OL, with a must-not-lose match against RB Leipzig looming, may rotate against the strugglers, but Lille will be going out to build on their shock midweek win in the Rhone Valley.

Montpellier against Paris Saint-Germain has the air of an upset about it. The home side have not lost against the champions at Stade de la Mosson in any of the last three seasons and have a nice mix of tenacity and technique, as well as a virtually fully fit squad. PSG, meanwhile, remain short of their absolute best.

Monaco and Rennes will try to keep strong home runs going against Amiens and Angers respectively, while Nice and Strasbourg seek to bounce back from chastening midweek losses when they host Metz and Toulouse.

The earlier Sunday kick-offs, meanwhile, see Saint-Etienne go to Reims and an injury-hit Dijon side travel to Nantes.

Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Lebo Mothiba – Strasbourg – £0.55

South Africa international striker Lebo Mothiba made a slow start to the season, suffering a hangover from the Africa Cup of Nations, which curtailed his summer preparations.

The forward, though, had been one of Ligue 1’s bright sparks last term and as the winter break approaches, his form is getting back towards the level it once was.

He might have been quelled in midweek by Brest, but Racing will want to respond to that 5-0 thumping at Stade de le Meinau, where they are traditionally so strong. Indeed, they have won four of their last five in front of their home supporters.

They find Toulouse arriving in a wretched state off the back of five successive losses and a defensive record that is the worst in the division with 31 goals conceded. It is an occasion from which the 23-year-old will wish to profit.

 

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About Author

A football journalist specialising in the French and Scottish game, Robin has been writing professionally for over a decade. His career highlights include attending World Cups in Brazil and Russia, and Euro 2016 in France.

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