Ligue 1 Round Six Preview

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PSG’s Pablo Sarabia reacts during the French League One soccer match between Nice and Paris Saint-Germain at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, France, Sunday, September 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Eduardo Camavinga’s Stade Rennais lead Ligue 1 with 13 points as we go into round six of France’s premier footballing division.  

We begin with a team that was expected to lead the league from the onset: Paris-Saint Germain. The Parisians host Angers SCO at the Parc Des Princes on Friday, Oct. 2 at 3 p.m., with the team only able to get nine points out of the five total games played this season. Despite this, PSG is returning to the form that propelled them to the Champions League Final, beating Stade De Reims thanks to Argentine striker Mauro Icardi, scoring a brace that secured them the 2-0 win.  

Paris was very wasteful with its changes last week, missing an opportunity to win this game by five or six goals. It’ll want to end this wastefulness against Angers, who have shown they thrive when down, defeating Stade Brestois 29 3-2 after being down 1-2 going into the second half.  

Angers’ top goal scorers are center back Ismaël Traoré and striker Stéphane Bahoken, both tied joint-first with two goals. Midfielder Angelo Fulgini and striker Sada Thioub are right behind them, tied joint-second with one goal. Manager Stéphane Moulin’s men will cause trouble for France’s richest clubs in dead-ball situations thanks to fullback Rayan Aït-Nouri, and crosses coming into the box from fullback Abdoulaye Bamba will no doubt be a threat to other teams.  

Manager Thomas Tuchel’s men can take advantage of the careless nature of Angers’ backline, which can be grossly exploited by Mbappé, Neymar and Di María. Icardi is currently the top goal scorer for the club this season with two goals, with Kylian Mbappé, Ángel Di Maria, Marquinhos and Julian Draxler all tied joint-second with one goal each.  

PSG currently sits seventh in the table with nine points, while Angers SCO is close behind in eighth place with nine points.  

AS Saint-Étienne will look to bounce back against RC Lens on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. after losing 3-0 to league leaders Rennais.  

Manager Claude Paul’s Saint-Étienne will have to improve its backline overall, but especially when it comes to dead-ball situations; conceding off a corner for Rennais’s first goal of the game and subsequently failing to defend a cross from the right back can only be described as awful defending. Improving the defense will only be made more difficult with the loss of excellent center-back Wesley Fofana, who is set to move to Leicester City for a deal worth £36.5 million. 

Attacking-wise, midfielders Denis Bouanga, Adil Aouchiche and Arnaud Nordin will need to be more creative and clinical in the final third. Nordin has three assists in five matches and needs to serve as the playmaker he is known to be. All three will need to get striker Romain Hamouma more involved in the match, as he leads the team with five goals.  

Lens has shown to be one of the most exciting teams in the whole league, with manager Franck Haise’s men not afraid to get forward, building up quickly in the final third to create opportunities. Moreover, they’ll wreak havoc in and around the box, shooting on goal or combining with each other to send crosses into the box. 

Lens’ Ignatius Ganago (left) tackles Bordeaux’s Jimmy Briand (right), during the French League One soccer match between Lens and Bordeaux in Lens, northern France, Saturday Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

Cameroonian striker Ignatius Ganago is clinical at finishing crosses put in by wingbacks Issiaga Sylla and Jonathan Clauss. Saint-Étienne cannot make the same defensive mistakes with such a clinical striker.

Lens has struggled to deal with long balls coming into its final third from the opposing defense, which is something that can be exploited by “Les Verts” backline, which is made up of left-back Yvann Maçon, center-backs Timothee Kolodziejczak and Harold Maoukoudi and right-back Aimen Moueffek.  

Saint-Étienne currently sits fourth in the table with ten points, while Lens sits in sixth with ten points as well.  

Saturday’s last match sees 10th place OGC Nice take on 15th place FC Nantes. Nice and Nantes have taken seven and five points from their first five games, respectively.  

Manager Christian Gourcuff has failed to get his side a victory since matchday two. His team is coming off a draw to LOSC Lille, which saw very little creativity from the team. Midfielders Ludovic Blas and Andrei Girotto both scored one goal each, and will want to overwhelm the goalkeeper with shots from the top of the box.  

Forward Moses Simon can hold up the ball, but will need help from his teammates in order to get in from behind more often, or find himself in a goal scoring opportunity—something that can be done by fellow teammate and midfielder Marcus Coco, who has been one of the only creative forces in the squad.  

Similarly, Patrick Viera’s men haven’t won since matchday two, drawing last week and losing on match days three and four. Out of the two teams, Nice will definitely be the more creative side, with opportunities usually being generated by midfielders Pierre Lees-Melou and Hassane Kamara, both joint-first in assists with one.  

Veteran center-back Dante can be deadly in dead ball situations, while Danish striker Kasper Dolberg has continued to be one of the league’s most promising forwards, already scoring twice this season. Amine Gouiri also has two goals, with him and Dolberg joint-top goal scorers for the club.  

Sunday, Oct. 4, we end the weekend fixtures with seven marquee matchups taking place. 

Beginning bright and early is Montpellier Hérault SC hosting Nîmes Olympique at the Stade De La Mosson Et Du Mondial 98 at 7 a.m.. The name of the team’s stadium is almost as long as the amount of time it’s been since they lost a match, drawing their last game and winning all its games from matchdays two through four, including an impressive victory over Lyon. 

Manager Michel Der Zakarian will be grateful for the form his forwards are in, with Téèji Savanier and Andy Delort sitting joint-top goalscorers with three, followed by Gaëtan Laborde right behind them with two goals. Funny enough, Laborde has been more effective at creating chances, with four assists in five matches played. The same can be said for Delort, who has two assists.  

Lyon’s Memphis Depay, center, challenges for the ball with Nimes’ players during the French League One soccer match between Lyon and Nimes in Decines, near Lyon, central France, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Nimes has not won a single match since this game. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

This effective offense spells the worst for Nîmes, who has not won since matchday one, losing on matchdays two and three and drawing on matchdays four and five. Although it has improved in defense, only conceding one in the last two games played, the team is still struggling to put the ball into the back of the net, barely getting a point out of last week’s match against Lens thanks to an 87th minute equalizer.  

Left back Birger Meling will need to be one of the main attacking outlets for the club, as he leads in the assists category with two. He will attempt to find the team’s most clinical goal scorer at the moment, midfielder Zinedine Ferhat, who has three goals this season.  

Four games take place at 9 a.m., with 12th place FC Girondins De Bordeaux hosting last place Dijon FCO at the Matmut Atlantique, and 17th place FC Metz taking on 16th place FC Lorient at the Stade Municipal Saint Symphorien. We will then see second place LOSC Lille travel to the Stade De La Meinau to take on 18th place RC Strasbourg Alsace, who currently sits in the relegation playoff spot.  

The fourth and most notable match is 13th place Stade Brestois 29 hosting AS Monaco at the Stade Francis Le Ble. Former Croatian international Niko Kovač is continuing to rebuild his reputation after his disaster spell at Bayern Münich, with his squad only losing once to respectable league leader Stade Rennais 2-1 on matchday four. Matchdays two, three and five were all victories for Les Monégasques, who will look to fix its defensive woes, already conceding seven goals in five games played.  

Striker Wissam Ben Yedder is continuing the excellent form we saw in his 2019-2020 campaign, already scoring three goals. Fellow forward Kevin Volland has been better at creating than scoring goals, leading the team with two assists.  

Young defender Benoît Badiashile has been good in the air, with two goals for the club. Midfielders Aurélien Tchouaméni and Sofiane Diop live up to the league’s slogan, “League of Talents,” with these two extremely promising young players. Both have had one assist each and will continue to have to help Kovač if they wish to return to European football and France’s elite.  

The last two games of the day will see league leader Rennais taking on 19th place Stade de Reims. Rennais has dominated in each of its last four games, defeating Monaco 2-1 on matchday four and Saint-Étienne 3-0 on matchday five. 

French international Eduardo Camavinga has one goal, while fellow midfielder Sehrou Guirassy leads the club as top goal scorer with three. Midfielders Benjamin Bourigeaud and Romain Del Castillo have been excellent at creating opportunities, each with two assists. They’ll want to continue this fast build-up play that has been implemented by Rennais manager Julien Stéphan, working to perfection.  

The final game of the day takes place at 11 a.m., when two of France’s biggest clubs face off in the derby known as “Choc des Olympiques.” 

Marseille hasn’t won a match since its shocking victory over PSG on matchday two. Since then, it’s lost once and drawn twice. Lyon has been in similar, if not worse, form. Rudi Garcia’s Champions League heroics are long forgotten, with the club’s last win being on matchday one. Since then, it has drawn three games and lost one, failing to put the ball into the back of the net.  

The news of Memphis Depay’s departure to FC Barcelona and Houssem Aouar’s flirtatious demeanor in regards to a move to Arsenal FC will only further serve as a distraction for the locker room. If they are not performing well with, arguably, their two best players, then the future for Marseille looks quite bleak.  

Midfielder Florian Thauvin leads the team in goals with two and is joint-first with fellow midfielder Morgan Sanson in assists with two.  

Forward Memphis Depay has scored four times and is the club’s top goal scorer. It is still unknown if he will be included in the matchday squad this weekend due the continued rumours of a move to the Catalan giants. Finally, Houssem Aouar, whom Arsenal was in love with is currently nowhere to be found, having yet to score a goal or get an assist. 

Managers André Villas-Boas and Garcia will look to get their respective teams back on track, with the pressure building on them to get back to winning ways. Marseille currently sits at ninth in the table with eight points, while Lyon sits at 11th with six points.  

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