It was a chastening week for French sides in European football, starting with Paris Saint-Germain’s limp 2-1 home loss to Manchester United and continuing until Nice were thumped 6-2 by Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League.
Lille saved some face for Ligue 1 with a commanding win against Sparta Prague away from home, but the balance sheet overall was a thoroughly disappointing one.
The five teams involved on the continent – PSG, Rennes, Marseille, Nice and Lille – face a gruelling schedule of matches before the Christmas period, and their fortunes will lie in terms of how well they manage their squads as well as their luck with injuries.
For the rest, meanwhile, the period until the end of the year will be a chance to make ground.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Lyon vs Monaco
Sunday night’s fixture between Lyon and Monaco will be played in an empty stadium due to the curfew regulations in force in the city, and that is a shame given that it promises to be an intriguing matchup between two sides underperforming in the middle of the table.
Lyon have lost only once this term but have been thoroughly ineffective on too many occasions, with the distraction of the prolonged transfer window doubtless having an impact on key performers such as Memphis Depay and Houssem Aoaur.
Depay came back with a bang in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Strasbourg, but given the OL have yet to beat a side that is not in the bottom three currently, there are plenty of questions to be answered.
Monaco, meanwhile, were held 1-1 by Montpellier last time out, despite their opponents playing over an hour with 10 men.
Niko Kovac’s side have a wealth of attacking talent but have yet to really make it count. They have been easily stifled against opponents content to sit deep and pack defence – but Lyon will not do that, playing into their hands.
Rest of the Weekend
Fresh from debuting in the Champions League on Tuesday, Rennes turnaround rapidly by starting the weekend’s action at home against Angers, giving them five days before their next fixture away to Sevilla.
Marseille travel to Lorient in the early Saturday kick-off before PSG will seek to bounce back from their Man Utd disappointment against winless Dijon, who did score a win over the champions around this time last year.
Early on Sunday, Lens, who are struggling due to injuries, meet Nantes.
The multiplex, meanwhile, sees in-form Metz host Saint-Etienne, Brest tackle Strasbourg, Nimes visit Bordeaux and Montpellier face Reims.
That is followed by the two Europa League representatives going head to head as Nice play undefeated league leaders Lille at the Allianz Arena.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Alessandro Florenzi – Paris Saint-Germain – £0.81
PSG are expecting to face a very defensive Dijon side on Saturday, and while Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are more than capable of doing a great deal of damage, summer signing Alessandro Florenzi is a wildcard selection for having a big influence on the game.
With spaces likely to be a premium through the centre, his contribution offensively down the right could be key. The on-loan Roma man might not be the best defensively, but he has been thrilling going forward in Ligue 1, hitting the post twice last weekend against Nimes before finally finding the net.
Indeed, the 29-year-old already has two goals in five Ligue 1 outings this season, having netted in each of his last two.