It was generally a successful week for Ligue 1’s side in the midweek Champions League action, with Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon claiming fine victories while Lille gave a creditable showing in defeat to Chelsea.
A goal from Mauro Icardi gave PSG all three points in Galatasaray, while Lyon preyed on the errors of hosts RB Leipzig to complete a fine smash-and-grab in Germany, with Memphis Depay and Martin Terrier the men to end their miserable seven-game winless run – a worst for the club in 23 years.
Lille, meanwhile, once again showed their potential against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, with striker Victor Osimhen adding to his growing list off admirers by netting his seventh of the season with a header against the Premier League side in a 2-1 loss.
Attention, though, turns back towards Le Championnat at the weekend, with the league yet to really settle into any pattern as the second international break of the season looms.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Saint-Etienne vs Lyon
France has few genuine local derbies, yet Saint-Etienne and Lyon is one of those scarce rivalries. And nowhere in the country is there a match as intensely fought.
Throughout history, one of these sides has typically had a significant upper hand on the other. In the 1970s and 80s, it was Saint-Etienne who were on top of the game in France, yet in the 1990s and early 2000s that switched, with Lyon becoming the top dogs.
Over recent years, the sides have become more evenly matched, and though Lyon have been Champions League regulars, Sainte had typically been knocking at the door, intensifying the rivalry further.
On-field incidents have helped fuel this, with Nabil Fekir’s infamous celebration in front of the Saint-Etienne support after scoring the final goal in a 5-0 victory in November 2017 having written another chapter in this fierce rivalry.
This season, both sides find themselves in the unusual position of being in the lower half of the standings, with both coaches already under threat of losing their jobs after being appointed in the summer. Indeed, Sainte coach Ghislain Printant may not last long enough to take to the dugout, with Claude Puel looming.
As such, this match, which is the last to be played in Ligue 1 this season, has taken on additional importance to both sides, so expect fireworks.
Rest of the weekend:
Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain’s early kick-off on Saturday against Angers promises to be a fascinating affair pitting first against second, with Stephane Moulin’s side the surprise package in Ligue 1 so far with their effective offensive play.
Marseille are the team to get the weekend underway with a trip to stuffy Amiens, while there are several interesting Saturday night matches.
Montpellier could hand a debut to local hero Teji Savanier, who has been out injured for over two months, but they face a difficult challenge against a Monaco side that suddenly looks extremely dangerous.
Third-place Nantes tackle Nice at Stade de la Beaujoire as they attempt to continue their unlikely push for a podium spot, while local bragging rights are at stake as Toulouse host in-form Bordeaux.
Lille are back in action on Sunday with a home game against Nimes, while Rennes against Reims kicks off after that fixture.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Victor Osimhen (£2.23) – Lille
One of the revelations of the season in European football to date, the striker has gone from selling bottles of water in the Lagos streets into one of the game’s hottest young stars in a matter of years.
After moving to France from Charleroi in the summer, he has quickly made Stade Pierre-Mauroy his home. All of his seven goals for Lille have been scored at the venue and indeed he has netted on all of his five competitive outings at the venue.
Nimes might be a stingy opponent, but they will do well to stop the 20-year-old, whose confidence is through the roof after netting a fine header against Chelsea.
His value has jumped to £2.23 on the Index, but that is a reflection of his excellent form. A player apparently purpose-built for Premier League play, he will surely attract interest from England in the long term.