Ligue 1 Preview: Match Day 5

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Although Ligue 1’s final perfect record went last weekend as Saint-Etienne were pegged back to 2-2 away to Nantes, the top of the table still has an unfamiliar look to it after a month of play.

Claude Puel’s men continue to lead the way ahead of an impressive Rennes side on goal difference, while Montpellier and newly promoted Lens each post nine points after slipping up on the opening day of the season.

Lille are the other undefeated team in fifth, but PSG are now looming after back-to-back wins over Metz and Nice after a scruffy start to the season.

Thomas Tuchel’s men will want to make up further ground in matchday five.

Ligue 1 Game of the Weekend: Saint-Etienne v Rennes

France’s top two sides square off on Saturday night, with both vying to continue with their impressive early pace.

Saint-Etienne’s presence at the top of the table is somewhat unexpected given their poor 2019-20 campaign then a summer transfer policy that saw them focus on recruiting young players, often from unheralded backgrounds.

Puel’s men have proven to be bright and lively, and though they saw a two-goal lead evaporate in Nantes last weekend, have much to be pleased with after a month of play.

Rennes, meanwhile, were a more predictable force towards the top of the standings. Julien Stephan’s outfit have been building steadily for a couple of years and bolstered their squad ahead of their first Champions League challenge.

Although their traditional star men of Raphinha and Eduardo Camavinga did not shine last week against Monaco, they found unlikely goal heroes in Steven Nzonzi and debutant left-back Adrien Truffert, who caught the eye after replacing the injured Faitout Maouassa.

An intriguing encounter is in prospect, with Saint-Etienne’s stickability at the top of the table set to undergo a stern examination.

Ligue 1 Match Day 5

Elsewhere in France, Lille kick off the weekend with a home encounter against Nantes on Friday and will go temporarily top of the standings with a win.

The early Saturday kick-off, meanwhile, will see Marseille expected to bounce back against Metz after two games without a win. 

Sunday’s action begins with Bordeaux playing host to Nice, while the highlight of the multiplex schedule is Monaco’s hosting of Strasbourg.

Nimes and Lens face each other in what promises to be an exciting encounter, while Brest will try to keep their positive form going in Angers.

Dijon, the league’s only pointless task, have a hard task on their hands at home against in-form Montpellier.  

The early evening match will see Lorient attempt to stop a run of three straight losses against a Lyon side not firing, while Reims host PSG in the last match of the weekend.

Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Florian Thauvin (£2.45)

The 2019-20 campaign was a virtual write-off for Marseille star Florian Thauvin, who suffered an ankle injury in pre-season that he would not overcome before the league’s shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis.

The attacker, though, has shown himself keen to make up for lost time and was highly influential in OM’s 3-2 away victory against Brest.

Versus Saint-Etienne and Lille, he was more reserved, and he will be seeking to roar back to his best against Metz.

His record against the Lorraine side is highly impressive. From five appearances he posts four goals and three assists, including a hat-trick the last time he faced them, and another productive display is expected by Andre Villas-Boas as OM strive to climb the table once more.

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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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