French Ligue 1 Preview

It was business as usual for league leaders PSG, who picked up an easy three points at home and surged to a 20 point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table. Unbeaten after 20 matches, nobody in France is capable of stopping the Parisians in their march to a fourth consecutive league title. It remains to be seen whether the club can remain invincible as the season transpires and the burden of European competition becomes more pressing.

Friday 15 January

12/10 Nice | Draw 21/10 | Angers 23/10 (21:30)

Nice moved into fourth place on the Ligue 1 table with a draw away from home at Lille. Having gone behind after ten minutes from a free kick, Nice responded well and equalised prior to halftime. The match would stay locked at 1-1 and ensure that Nice have now drawn three of their last five league matches, winning once. Angers reclaimed second place with an excellent 2-0 victory over fellow European hopefuls Caen. Angers have only lost one of their last five matches in Ligue 1, winning twice and drawing twice. They’re not the most explosive side in front of goal but their very tight defence coupled with a morale-boosting victory last weekend gives punters more than one reason to move on the outsider here. In the interest of safety, take the Angers Win/Draw Double Chance at 6/10.

Saturday 16 January

8/1 Toulouse | 34/10 | PSG 7/20 (18:00)

A daunting task awaits struggling Toulouse. Even with home ground advantage and a decent form line, becoming the first side to beat PSG in the league this season seems rather unlikely. Toulouse have lost only one of the past five Ligue 1 matches and came from behind to pick up a 3-1 victory away at ten-man Reims last weekend courtesy of a second-half hat-trick from Wissam Ben Yedder. They’ve managed to move out of the relegation zone by a point but have also only recorded four victories all season. PSG are in a league of their own and one cannot find any reason not to back the away victory at 7/20.

31/10 Troyes | 23/10 | Stade Rennais 9/10 (21:00)

Relegation bound Troyes operate at the complete reverse end of the league spectrum. Where PSG are unbeaten, Troyes have yet to pick up a win in Ligue 1 since promotion last season. Despite staying alive in the Coupe de France, twenty league matches with eight draws and twelve losses makes for pretty dismal reading. They welcome a Stade Rennais who have drawn half of their matches this season and picked up another point last weekend. However, the 2-2 draw would’ve felt more like a point gained than two lost as Stade Rennais fought back from two goals down. Backing the away win at 9/10 seems good value all considered. 

16/10 Guingamp | 2/1 | Nantes 18/10 (21:00)

Guingamp parked the bus against Marseille and came away with a goalless draw. Having arrived in the south of France fresh from five league defeats, Guingamp’s efforts could be applauded given their recent run of form. Nantes staged a comeback to beat St Etienne 2-1 and record their first win at home since October. Johan Audel levelled from close range before the hosts completed the victory with six minutes left to play, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson swiftly taking the opportunity presented. I’m tipping the away victory here at a valuable 18/10.

27/20 Gazelec Ajaccio | 21/10 | Reims 2/1 (21:00)

Ajaccio raced into an early lead in their match with Monaco, Khalid Boutaib netting after only eight minutes. The visitors added a second just before the hour mark and would’ve hoped to contain Monaco and collect the three points to add further credence to their recent form. It was not to be however, with Ajaccio conceding twice to share the spoils. Nevertheless, it marks an unbeaten stretch in the league amounting to ten matches. Reims opened the scoring against Toulouse but could not hang on after going down to ten men. Reims are winless in four matches and will hope for a better performance away from home. However, with the home win at 27/20 and Ajaccio’s magic form, punters shouldn’t look any further. 

11/10 Bordeaux | 21/10 | Lille 11/4 (21:00)

Cheick Diabate scored the only goal of Bordeaux’s trip to Montpellier, a strike which registered Les Girondins’ first away win of the league campaign. It briefly moved Bordeaux into the top half of the table but following the gameweek, the club has settled in 11th with not a great deal of space between themselves and the top four. However, it also leaves them only six points from the relegation zone in a congested Ligue 1. Lille extended their unbeaten run to five matches with a 1-1 draw at home against Nice. Lille squandered the lead after having opened the scoring early and will be intent on continuing their recent success. I’m tipping Lille to Win or Draw on the Double Chance at 7/10. 

15/10 Bastia | 2/1 | Montpellier 19/10 (21:00)

Bastia are hovering just three points above the relegation zone following their loss to runaway league leaders PSG. Bastia were never really in the game after having fell two goals behind in the first half. While Bastia had their chances, their opposition’s quality shone through with Angel Di Maria a persistent threat. Montpellier are level on points with Bastia but a place above the hosts by virtue of goal difference. They’re coming off of a disappointing home loss to Bordeaux and will earmark this as an opportunity to begin shifting their way into mid-table. This one is difficult to pick a winner and I can’t help but feel the draw is on the cards at 2/1. 

Sunday 17 January

23/10 Lorient | 21/10 | Monaco 5/4 (15:00)

Lorient squandered a two-goal lead against Stade Rennais and narrowly missed out on a precious three points away from home. Ousmane Dembele reduced the deficit in the first half before Jeremie Boga struck from outside the area to level the match with time running short. Lorient are currently ninth in the league and have only picked up one win in their last five matches. Although Monaco rallied to secure a 2-2 draw with Ajaccio, it meant that the club slipped to third in the Ligue 1 table. Monaco got the reward they deserved with a much-improved second-half performance and will feel they can really get at a Lorient side not in the best of form. Monaco ruled out the return of Radamel Falcao this season as well as confirmed that El Shaarawy will be leaving after having failed to score in 15 league matches for the principality. I’ve got a feeling that Monaco will come up trumps at 5/4. 

2/1 Caen | 22/10 | Marseille 27/20 (18:00)

Caen certainly threatened against Angers but unfortunately their woes in front of goal continued and they succumbed 2-0. It has seen the club drop to fifth on the table having gone five matches without a win, drawing twice and losing three times. Following a fantastic start to the season, Caen have stuttered and are now tasked with fighting their way back into form against Marseille. Les Olympians couldn’t find a way through Guingamp at home last week, missing the chance to get right back into the reckoning for the European places. They have only themselves to blame having been afforded a fair number of chances and it makes five draws from their last six league matches. Marseille to Win or Draw is short at 7/20 but worthy of a punt here. 

15/10 St Etienne | 21/10 | Lyon 18/10 (22:00)

St Etienne dropped to seventh following a 2-1 defeat away from home to Nantes. St Etienne opened the scoring through a Nolan Roux penalty but from that moment the game belonged to Nantes. St Etienne have been poor recently having lost three of their last five games, winning just once. Olympique Lyon arrive on the back of a morale-boosting 4-1 victory over basement dwellers Troyes with Alexandre Lacazette netting the first goal at the brand new home stadium. It was their first win in six Ligue 1 matches, the majority of which they lost. Nevertheless, I’m tipping a rejuvenated Lyon to pick up the win on the road at 18/10. 

Ligue 1 Picks
Angers WIN/DRAW 6/10
PSG WIN 7/20
Stade Rennais WIN 9/10
Nantes WIN 18/10
Ajaccio WIN 27/20
Lille WIN/DRAW 7/10
Bastia DRAW 2/1
Monaco WIN 5/4
Marseille WIN/DRAW 7/20
Lyon WIN 18/10

Written by Rick John Henry