Strasbourg v Marseille
What was always likely to be a difficult trip to Alsace for Marseille has been made even more complicated by the situation that they find themselves in. After the midweek European results, OM face what is essentially a final in the Champions League against Tottenham on Tuesday. Make no mistake, that match will feature heavily in Igor Tudor’s thinking when they travel directly from Frankfurt to Strasbourg for this game.
Racing, meanwhile, have endured a frustrating start to the season, but one victory in 12 matches does not tell the story of their campaign. They have drawn six times, and results should have been significantly better. A curious lack of efficiency in the final third has been their problem, but at some point their luck needs to change. Ludovic Ajorque, their top scorer last season, may be able to return for this match and all of their other key players are available.
OM, meanwhile, have lost their last three matches in all competitions, albeit narrowly, and could indulge in significant squad rotation to ensure their key players are all fighting fit for Tottenham – a match in which they will have to be at their peak to win.
Marseille have a good record against Racing, winning five of their last six, but if they use their second string, it would be a huge achievement to come away from a full and rocking Stade de la Meinau with even a point.
Brest v Reims
Brest and Reims might not be the type of match that is expected to produce goals, but the indications are that it could be an entertaining encounter on Sunday between two sides that are under interim management.
Bruno Grougi has overseen the last couple of Brest matches to mixed results. He made some strange decisions in a derby clash with Nantes that resulted in a 4-1 defeat away from home, yet his team looked far better in Clermont last weekend and ran out 3-1 victory, putting together a particularly accomplished first-half performance.
Grougi set his team up in an attacking manner with four offensive players, including Romain Del Castillo, who provided a goal and two assists last weekend.
Similarly, Reims interim boss Will Still appears to have a far more offensive mentality than Oscar Garcia, the man he has replaced. This was evident in the way that he aligned his side against Auxerre last time out. For the first time this season, Reims made room for their three devastating attackers of Folarin Balogun, Junya Ito and Arber Zeneli all in the same starting XI.
These players are strong performers, with Zeneli coming back to something like his best after a couple of years in which he has been troubled by injury. Between this trio, they have 11 goals and five assists and together have the potential to be a thrilling force.
It certainly looks like both coaches feel that their best prospect of getting the respective jobs on a permanent basis is by adopting an attacking approach.
Lyon v Lille
It’s surprising that Lyon and Lille does not have the history of being a fixture filled with goals. In the last six league fixtures between these teams, only one has produced more than a single goal. Since the teams played out two matches last term that produced only a single strike – Gabriel Gudmundsson’s goal for LOSC away to OL in February – the teams have changed coaches and have adopted a different approach.
In particular, Paulo Fonseca has transformed Lille from being a dour outfit under Jocelyn Gourvennec into one of the most dynamic in France. They have now won four of their last five matches, including all of their last three, and only in one of these games have fewer than three goals been scored. Indeed, all season, only two of 10 Ligue 1 fixtures have fallen short of this mark.
Last weekend, LOSC were involved in a spectacular slugfest with Monaco that they won 4-3. Offensively, they were devastating but there were clear deficiencies defensively as goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier and Tiago Djalo were both guilty of selling a goal each. The return of Jose Fonte and Benjamin Andre after bans will help this, but they remain a side that has kept only two clean sheets all season.
Lyon, meanwhile, have improved markedly since Laurent Blanc took over. He has switched his side into a 3-5-2 formation, notably restoring the likes of Jerome Boateng, Castillo Lukeba, Houssem Aouar and Moussa Dembele into the starting XI. OL look improved offensively because of this, while they have not settled at the back yet. This has led to a couple of high-scoring matches against opponents that like to play in the same open style as Lille. It’s hard to see this game not producing both goals and excitement.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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