Ligue 1 Preview: Match Day 2 of the 2020/21 Season

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Paris Saint-Germain might have been denied the Champions League title by Bayern Munich last Sunday, but the news cycle has quickly pushed that tight 1-0 loss to one side.

The blockbuster news of Lionel Messi’s desire to leave Barcelona has sent ripples as far as the French capital, with reports suggesting that Les Parisiens hold an interest. It is, however, generally considered that his wages – which total more than those of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe combined – provide too great an obstacle for a deal to realistically be done.

There is no doubt, however, that the Parc des Princes side need more depth in their squad for the 2020-21 campaign, although they have controversially been given an extra couple of weeks to find it before playing their first league match, as Saturday’s scheduled trip to Lens has been postponed until September to allow Thomas Tuchel’s men time to rest after their exploits in Portugal.

By the time they finally get underway, many of their Ligue 1 rivals will have played two matches.

Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Lyon vs Dijon

In some ways, Lyon’s run to the semi-finals of the Champions League was France’s outstanding story in the competition given that they eliminated Juventus and Manchester City along the way, and after missing out on Europe entirely for this season, their focused will be fixed upon securing a good league campaign.

Little over a week after losing out 3-0 to Bayern in a match that was far tighter than the scoreline suggests, they return to action at home against Dijon on Friday night. This was typically the type of game they slipped up in last season, with just 19 points coming at home from 13 fixtures. With that in mind, there is already a degree of pressure on them to get the win.

While the hosts will be missing only Rafael and Tino Kadewere, Dijon are set to be seriously depleted, with Glody Ngonda added to their significant injury list after sustaining a knock in the 1-0 home loss to Angers. Julio Tavares is unlikely to play – indeed, he is set to leave the club – while Mama Balde and former OL youth Yassine Benzia is out.

The best of the rest in Match Day 2

Rennes and Montpellier meet on Saturday, with the latter playing their first match of the league season without the Covid-19-hit Andy Delort, while Strasbourg’s clash with Nice has been shunted forward nearly 24 hours into the evening slot that PSG’s postponed clash has vacated.

Reims and Lille have both been given tough starts to the season by the fixture computer and they go head-to-head in Champagne at lunchtime on Sunday, while Brest and Marseille’s evening kick-off is doubtful due to a coronavirus outbreak in the OM camp, which has hit eight players, including Dimitri Payet.

In between times, Metz’s hosting of Monaco is arguably the highlight of Sunday’s multiplex, while Angers face Bordeaux, Nantes tackle Nimes and Saint-Etienne open their campaign versus Lorient.

Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Ruben Aguilar (50p)

Monaco right-back Ruben Aguilar was a disappointment last term but on the evidence of the 2-2 draw with Reims last weekend, he will be far more suited to Niko Kovac’s high-pressing style of play. With the Monegasques dominating the ball last weekend, he was able to push forward regularly and was the type of offensive force from wide he was while with Montpellier.

Indeed, he narrowly missed out on a dividend payment, having clocked a Match Day Score of above 200, suggesting that there could be long-term value in his performances on the pitch.

Furthermore, he will come up against a Metz side on Sunday who have not played a competitive match since March and who are liable to start with inexperienced defender Matthieu Udol at left-back. Confidence restored, he should be licking his lips.


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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