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Only eight points span leaders Stade Brestois to second bottom Lens, so anything could happen as France’s elite continue to jostle for position at the weekend...

Saturday, November 13, 2010 (all kick-off times CET)

19:00 Girondins de Bordeaux – Nancy
19:00 Stade Brestois – Sochaux
19:00 Olympique de Marseille – Racing Club de Lens (preview)
19:00 Monaco – Arles-Avignon
19:00 Montpellier – Toulouse
19:00 Valenciennes – Saint-Etienne
21:00 Caen – Lille

Sunday, November 14, 2010

17:00 Auxerre – Stade Rennais
17:00 Lorient – Paris Saint-Germain
21:00 Olympique Lyonnais – Nice

Girondins de Bordeaux – Nancy


Jean Tigana’s Bordeaux side showed commendable heart last weekend to salvage a point against Valenciennes towards the end of the game, something that was notably absent from Nancy as they rolled over 4-0 against Monaco having been 0-0 at half-time.

Les Girondins continue to struggle against sides they should beat and certainly won’t take this encounter for granted. Tigana’s men have suffered some bad news this week as Marc Planus won’t play again until next year, but on the other hand they should be able to recall Ludovic Sane into their defence. Alou Diarra sits out the penultimate game of his six-match ban.

Nancy, meanwhile, have suffered set-backs over the last few days too. Definitely missing will be Michael Chretien, who could be out for up to six weeks, Djamel Bakar, Samba Diakite and Pascal Berenguer. Alexandre Cuvilliere is likely to be drafted back into the offence, while Alfred N’Diaye could start at the back due to a suspension for Andre Luiz.

Stade Brestois – Sochaux

Despite losing at Lille last weekend, Brest maintain the leadership of Le Championnat and will be hopeful of keeping it for at least another seven days as they host a Sochaux side yet to earn a point on the road this season.

An injury to Moise Apanga and a suspension for Ahmed Kantari meant that SB29’s magnificent defensive unit was not at its strongest for the 3-1 loss last Sunday, but both players are back in the fold for Saturday night’s game at the Stade Francis Le Ble. Larsen Toure is still out injured, however.

Sochaux have been hit by a gastroenteritis bug this week, with striker Ideye Brown one of the victims. He is therefore something of a doubt for the weekend’s fixture, while Teddy Richert and Yassin Mikari continue to work their way back to fitness. Les Lionceaux earned a draw with Auxerre at home last weekend, with Nigerian attacker Ideye the scorer of their deserved late leveller.

Monaco – Arles-Avignon


Coupe de la Ligue defeat for Monaco on Wednesday night against Olympique de Marseille was certainly a set-back, but on the whole this has been a good week for les Monegasques, who will be keen to round it off with a victory of Le Championnat’s detached basement club.

A 4-0 success over Nancy last weekend was a real boost to Monegasques morale after a poor run of results had seen them sucked into the bottom three, where they presently reside. Park Chu-Young, who scored twice after ASNL struck two own goals last weekend, isn’t available due to international duty, while Vincent Muratori, Eduardo Costa and Daniel Niculae are injured. Dieumerci Mbokani missed out in midweek and is doubtful, but Lukman Haruna could feature in his first league game of the campaign.

Arles can’t afford to bask in the glory of their first ever Championnat victory for too long. A pair of Kaba Diawara goals helped Faruk Hadzibegic’s side overcome Caen 3-2 last weekend, but ACA remain cut adrift at the foot of the standings and could badly use three points against one of the league’s fellow strugglers.

Montpellier – Toulouse


Rene Girard watched his Montpellier side book a place in the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue by defeating Lille 2-1 on Wednesday evening, but the coach will want to avoid a repeat of last Sunday’s poor performance against Lens when Toulouse visit the Stade de la Mosson.

La Paillade were easily outplayed by les Sang et Or in the north of France last weekend and slumped to a disappointing and thoroughly deserved 2-0 defeat. With that now out of their systems, MHSC approach the weekend’s game probably missing central defender Emir Spahic, the only starting player to have an injury issue for this fixture.

After winning all four of their opening games, Toulouse have been stuck in a rut and will not go to Montpellier with any great hopes. Cheikh M’Bengue could return after several weeks out with injury but Xavier Pentecote, Yohann Pele and Soren Larsen are still missing for Alain Casanova’s side, who beat Sochaux 3-1 in their last away trip.


Valenciennes – Saint-Etienne


Both Valenciennes and Saint-Etienne were eliminate from the Coupe de la Ligue in midweek and both will hope to ease their pain by recording a weekend victory.

Philippe Montanier’s home side were defeated 3-1 by Paris Saint-Germain after taking the lead early on. A host of openings were squandered by VA, who hit the post through Guillaume Loriot. There’s been bad news for the Nord club in recent days as Gaetan Bong will miss several weeks due to injury, while there has been no immediate easing of the players already on the physio’s table.

Sainte have also been having their own selection problems, but Dimitri Payet will return after missing the midweek loss against Auxerre due to a slight injury. Loic Perrin is making progress with regard to his injury, but Boubacar Sanogo remains out for the immediate future along with Yohan Andreu. Les Verts have hit a poor patch after an excellent start to the campaign.

Caen – Lille

Back-to-back wins over Marseille and Lyon by Caen have not been well followed up by the Normandy side, who have posted just one Ligue 1 success since. Franck Dumas’ men have tumbled down the rankings as a result and will be eager to bounce back against Lille.

Having lost their last two games 3-2 against mediocre opponents in the form of Nancy and Arles, les Malherbes will certainly need to tighten up their rearguard when les Dogues come calling. Gregory Tafforeau is injured and Sambou Yatabare is suspended.

Lille don’t have too many problems, though they do have a wound to lick after Coupe de la Ligue elimination by Montpellier. Florent Balmont missed the 2-0 midweek defeat due to injury and is poised to sit out again, but Emerson and Yohan Cabaye, called into the France squad by Laurent Blanc this week, return from bans.

Auxerre – Stade Rennais


Arguably the most intriguing game of the weekend takes place on Sunday at the Stade Abbe-Deschamps, where in-form Auxerre and Rennes go head-to-head.

A dreadful start to the season seems to have been put behind Jean Fernandez’s men, who are in the midst of a lengthy unbeaten run and booked their place in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals by beating Saint-Etienne on Tuesday. Ireneusz Jelen may be out until 2011, while there are still the same clutch of problems troubling the Burgundy side.

Rennes missed the chance to go top of the table last weekend when they were held 1-1 by Lyon in a match they really should have won. The Bretons were excellent in that fixture and will be able to welcome back Jerome Leroy, Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik and Kader Mangane into their squad after suspension. Mangane, however, may miss out due to injury.

Lorient – Paris Saint-Germain


Christian Gourcuff’s Lorient side are getting into their stride after a disappointing start to the campaign, but they will be tested to the maximum when they meet with Coupe de la Ligue semi-finalist PSG, who beat Valenciennes 3-1 on Wednesday to progress in that competition.

Les Merlus don’t have any significant injury problems in their side apart from long-term issue Lamine Kone. The Bretons managed to dispatch Saint-Etienne 2-1 at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard last weekend, largely thanks to the performance of France international Kevin Gameiro, and the home fans will again look to the striker to perform.

PSG don’t have any strikers in especially good form at present, but that hasn’t stopped them going on a run of one defeat in 12. Brazilian left-winger Nene has been in electric form, dazzling for periods as les Parisiens claimed the Derby de France last Sunday against Marseille. It was his work that created the goals for both Mevlut Erding and Guillaume Hoarau, Antoine Kombouare’s first choice striker partnership, who will have been buoyed by striking.

Olympique Lyonnais – Nice

The weekend’s action is rounded off when under-performing Lyon host Nice at the Stade Gerland, eager to get back on track after being out-played in the 1-1 draw against Rennes last Saturday night.

It took a fortunate deflected free kick from Michel Bastos to salvage a point for les Gones in that encounter, so Claude Puel will be hoping for a significantly better showing from his men going into the weekend. Despite a catastrophic start to the campaign, les Gones remain only five points off the head of the table, so all is not lost. Clement Grenier probably won’t play again until January, while Lisandro Lopez and Aly Cissokho could make their returns.

Nice arrested a poor run of results last weekend with a commanding 2-0 victory over Toulouse. Former Lyon youth Anthony Mounier is les Aiglons’ star man, and they will expect him to fire from his wide offensive position. Eric Roy may have to do without a number of first team players, though he will hope centre-back Nemanja Pejcinovic returns from injury troubles to feature.

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