Beyond the banning of handshakes and a handful of changes with regards to how the mascots before each game will be presented, French football has thus far been largely untouched by the effects of coronavirus.
Lyon’s big fixture against Saint-Etienne last weekend went ahead as planned, while a big basketball game in the city was cancelled owing to government advice that prohibited big indoor events taking place for fear the virus could be more easily spread.
One Ligue 2 fixture between Chambly and Le Mans will take place behind closed doors but, at the time of writing, there is no fear that the Ligue 1 calendar will be impacted this week.
Ligue 1 Game of the Weekend: Lille vs Lyon
Lyon’s European hopes dangle by a threat as they lie fifth in Ligue 1, trailing fourth-placed Lille by six points. Defeat when they travel to the north of France could see them fall nine points shy of the guaranteed Europa League spot and 10 points short of a chance of returning to the Champions League.
It has already been a disappointing week for OL as they exited the Coupe de France on Wednesday to Paris Saint-Germain, though the 5-1 scoreline was not flattering to them as they tested their opponents until Marçal was sent-off midway through the second period, setting them into a tailspin in which they conceded four late goals.
Lille, meanwhile, are a team in form. They have won four of their last five Ligue 1 outings, having fought to a 1-0 win over Nantes last weekend, while their home record is one of the best in the division, with 32 points claimed from a possible 42.
With a strong squad to pick from, Christophe Galtier will be hopeful that his side can edge their way back into the top three and virtually eliminate OL from the Champions League race.
Best of the Rest
The action kicks off in Marseille on Friday, with the home side playing host to an Amiens side heading towards the drop. Dimitri Payet has shaken off a knock to be involved in the squad, but the big news for OM is that Florian Thauvin will be in the squad, with last season’s ace having managed just 10 minutes of action this season.
PSG then make a trip to Strasbourg on Saturday, but their thoughts are likely to be focussed on Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Borussia Dortmund at Parc des Princes – a fixture they have to win to stand a chance of making the quarter-finals.
Derby action is the highlight of the Saturday evening program, with Monaco making the short trip along the coast to Nice, where they have a wretched record in recent Ligue 1 matches.
Dijon will be seeking to heap the misery on struggling Toulouse in a vital relegation match up, while Angers will aim to continue their upward trajectory against Nantes. Nimes, meanwhile, go to Metz off the back of successive losses but two strong performances. It is a match they can scarcely afford to lose.
Sunday’s action sees Saint-Etienne host Bordeaux off the back of Thursday’s Coupe de France semi-final against Rennes, who later host Montpellier, before the main event takes place in Lille.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Morgan Sanson – Marseille – £0.84
While the big news in Marseille may be the return of Florian Thauvin from injury, Amiens can scarcely afford to take their eyes off creative midfielder Morgan Sanson, who has been a driving force for OM in the centre of the field this season.
He was one of the few OM players to emerge from their 3-1 loss at home to Nantes a fortnight ago with any credit and has been one of their steadiest players this season.
Alongside Boubacar Kamara and Valentin Rongier, he is the most attacking of OM’s midfield three and against an Amiens outfit at a low ebb, he represents a player who is capable of taking advantage, despite a relatively modest return of four goals and four assists this season.