After the semi-finalist of the Coupe de France were decided in midweek, attention has briefly turned back towards Ligue 1 at the weekend, yet already some focus is being directed towards Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League meeting with Borussia Dortmund next Tuesday.
Thomas Tuchel’s side eased to a 6-1 win over Dijon on Wednesday night, aided by some horrendous home defending and a healthy does of luck, but the coach admitted that he is not certain when Neymar will return to the fold, suggesting he could even miss the trip to Germany.
Undefeated in 22 games overall, this is unlikely to trouble the capital side’s apparently unstoppable title push, but it certainly raises questions over their ability to succeed in Europe without their most productive attacking asset.
Match of the Weekend – Lille vs Marseille
Sunday evening’s showcase match features Lille, the side lying second in the league, and Marseille, the team who sit second.
While OM boast a nine-point cushion to Christophe Galtier’s side, their apparently comfortable position could quickly be made awkward if they were to lose in the far north east.
Already this year, they have gone to third-placed Rennes and ground out an ugly 1-0 success, but before this trip they are handicapped by having played a tough Coupe de France match in midweek – a 1-0 defeat in Lyon. Key man Dimitri Payet picked up a hamstring injury in that game, and while Andre Villas-Boas has been upbeat about his chances of playing, OM can scarcely do without their key forward.
Lille, meanwhile, have won nine of their 12 home matches in Ligue 1 this season, losing only once, and have gained some valuable momentum by earning nine points from nine after a stop-start beginning to the year.
They also have an injury question mark hanging over a key player, with leading marksman Victor Osimhen doubtful after sustaining a muscular injury last weekend. Loic Remy, though, has been in form and is an able stand in.
This promises to be an enormously important match with Europe in mind.
Rest of the Weekend
Friday night’s action sees Monaco host Montpellier in a match that could carry the hosts up to seventh, despite misfiring for much of the season.
Robert Moreno’s side have won back-to-back matches against Angers and Amiens, and they will fancy their chances of upsetting opponents who have won only eight of 37 points away from home this season.
PSG go to Amiens in Saturday’s early kick off, with the hosts having lost two late goals to consign them to an unfortunate defeat against Monaco a week previous. It would be surprising if they were to put up much of a fight, however.
On Saturday evening, Nimes will try to make it four wins from four when they host out-of-form Angers, while Dijon and Metz travel to Bordeaux and Nantes respectively aware that pressure is being exerted on them from below. Meanwhile, Toulouse, who are already horribly detached at the foot of the table, will try to stop their rot against unpredictable Nice.
Lyon will try to build on the momentum they build in midweek by increasing their chances of a top-four finish by overcoming Strasbourg on Sunday, before Brest play Saint-Etienne and Reims host Rennes.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Pablo Sarabia – Paris Saint-Germain – £1.18
The stock of Pablo Sarabia at Parc des Princes has risen substantially since the turn of the year and after a fine midweek display in Dijon, it is at an all-time high.
Playing in a wide midfield role, the Spaniard laid on one assist and scored two goals in midweek, and with doubts over Neymar’s fitness, he may well start Saturday’s fixture away against Amiens.
He has typically reserved his best form for cup competitions, scoring seven times in the Coupe de France alone, but he is seeking to add to Ligue 1 strikes against Monaco and Montpellier over the course of the last month.
“I try to be as efficient as possible for the team where the coach needs me, in attack or on left or right. But I try to always give my best,” he said on Wednesday.
Versatile and in form, it has been suggested he could even replace Mauro Icardi and play alongside Mbappe in Germany. In any case, the 27-year-old’s role at Parc des Princes is set to increase in the busy weeks ahead.