The games continue thick and fast in Ligue 1 following a midweek round of fixtures that saw Paris Saint-Germain tighten their grip on the top of the table ahead of a Marseille team that is looking an increasingly safe bet for Champions League football next season.
Neither won in particularly thrilling style, though Dimitri Payet once again caught the eye for OM with a brilliant goal from an impossible angle, yet their relentless nature has been too much for their rivals.
Crucially, PSG have given themselves a healthy cushion at the top, allowing them to rotate in what is a busy juncture of the season.
Match of the Weekend: Paris Saint-Germain vs Lyon
That this match is far more important for Lyon than it is for PSG is highlighted by the fact that there is talk of the home team not risking Neymar with a view to the Borussia Dortmund Champions League match nine days later.
The Brazilian was absent from PSG’s 2-1 win over Nantes in midweek due to a rib injury, and his loss was clearly felt as his side lost the spark that he brings to their offensive play.
At the back, Thomas Tuchel’s side showed nerves after conceding a soft goal and had it not been for the exploits of Keylor Navas and some poor finishing from their hosts, they would have been more significantly punished.
Lyon will seek to profit from such a weakness, yet have problems of their own. A 0-0 draw against Amiens in midweek represented the sixth time in 11 home matches that they have failed to score this season, with little room for optimism after a flat display from their forwards.
Rayan Cherki came closest with a shot off the post, though Rudi Garcia has protected the youngster from the media glare and seems unlikely to start him in this game. But with OL minus four starters due to long-term injuries, it may only be so long that the talented teenager can be pushed into the shade.
Best of the Rest
Angers and Lille begin the weekend’s action on Friday, with the visitors chasing three successive wins after success in Strasbourg then at home to Rennes.
Marseille then play host to Toulouse in a Saturday afternoon encounter that should surely be won by the hosts. The bottom club have lost 13 of their previous 14 matches in all competitions, while OM have won the last five meetings between the teams.
Saturday evening’s action includes Amiens hosting a Monaco side still showing plenty of uncertainty under new boss Robert Moreno and Dijon hosting Nantes. Elsewhere, Metz will try to build on their strong recent run against Bordeaux, improving Nice face a tricky home match against Nimes and Rennes play a Breton derby with Brest.
On Sunday, Montpellier will seek to claim a ninth home win in 13 attempts this season when they host an ailing Saint-Etienne before Strasbourg tackle Reims – a side who have been hit by a recent spate of offensive injuries.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Bouna Sarr – Marseille – £0.53
Marseille stand a strong chance of beating Toulouse at home on Saturday evening – and probably by a convincing margin.
After resting right-back Hiroki Sakai in midweek, the Japan international is likely to return to the starting XI for this encounter, with Bouna Sarr consequently set to switch to a role on the right wing.
The 27-year-old, who is listed as a defender, has been Marseille’s major source of chances this season (Payet excluded), and should have plenty of opportunity to attack a defence that has already conceded a league-high 48 times this season.
At his current price, the 27-year-old represents a nice outside bet to get in amongst the dividend winners of Saturday.