Ligue 1 Preview: Match Day 26

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Neymar was once again the headline maker in France this week, with his criticism of PSG’s hierarchy after their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Dortmund on Tuesday eye catching due to its frank nature.

The Brazilian hit out at the club for wrapping him in cotton wool ahead of the fixture, which resulted in him producing a lacklustre performance in Germany, despite getting on the scoresheet following a rare good burst by Kylian Mbappe.

Indeed, it’s been a difficult week overall for the league leaders, who had to fight back from 3-0 down away to lowly Amiens last weekend before ultimately having to settle for a 4-4 draw.

The pressure is not on Thomas Tuchel yet, but it will seriously mount if this slide continues and PSG fail to successfully negotiate Dortmund in the return leg. 

Before then, the focus returns to the league, with this weekend hosting the 26th round of 38.

Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: PSG vs Bordeaux

Sunday night’s showcase match sees PSG host Bordeaux with a point to prove after a couple of disappointing results.

After the flat showing against Dortmund, a response is expected from the champions, who hold a 10-point advantage in the standings. With no midweek match to consider, they can attack the game with their full capacity, particularly as their injury problems have largely cleared.

Bordeaux, meanwhile, are a side who do not have their problems to seek currently. A dispute between the fans and owners continues to rage while on field results have been mediocre, despite a current five-match undefeated run.

Paulo Sousa will carry a strong squad into the weekend’s encounter, too, but they have lost seven of their last eight against PSG and there is little evidence to suggest that the trend will be reversed at Parc des Princes, a venue where they lost to a single Edinson Cavani penalty when they last visited little over a year ago.

Elsewhere in Ligue 1

Nice and Brest kick-off the weekend’s action early on Friday evening, with Patrick Vieira’s side aiming to build on last week’s unconvincing win over Toulouse. 

That is an appetiser for Metz’s home clash with Lyon. While the hosts go into the game in excellent form, Lyon find themselves in the middle of the table and struggling for traction under head coach Rudi Garcia. With injuries and a Champions League meeting with Juventus to follow, it promises to be a very awkward meeting for OL.

Saturday’s early game sees in-form Marseille face out-of-form Nantes at Stade Velodrome, with talisman Dimitri Payet expected back for the hosts. He was missing as Marseille somehow scrambled past Lille last weekend to take a firm grip of second.

LOSC will expect to bounce back from that loss when they tackle rock-bottom Toulouse at Stade Pierre-Mauroy later in the evening, while Monaco hope to ignite a Champions League challenge against Dijon, who are undefeated at home since August in the league.

In the other Saturday fixtures, Angers play Montpellier and Strasbourg head off against an Amiens side that showed character in their draw with PSG last weekend.]

Sunday begins with injury-hit Saint-Etienne playing Reims at home. Claude Puel is under mounting pressure after a dire run of results has seen Sainté slip back towards the relegation zone – and by the time they play, they could be under greater pressure.

Nimes will then try to extend their remarkable winning run to five matches when they travel to Rennes – a side they have already beaten this year and a team still suffering a hangover from the shock sacking of president Olivier Letang a couple of weeks ago.

Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Victor Osimhen – Lille – £2.24

With 13 goals this season, Victor Osimhen has enjoyed a fantastic debut campaign in Ligue 1. Ten of these strikes have come at home, and the 21-year-old Nigerian must be licking his lips at the prospect of lining up against the weakest defence in the league in the form of Toulouse, who have conceded at a rate of more than two per game.

Osimhen is seeking to score in three successive league matches for the first time for Lille, having tallied against Angers and Marseille, with his performance last weekend versus OM one in which he looked especially sharp.

Saturday night’s match offers him a chance to enhance his glowing reputation and re-launch Lille’s European push.

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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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