• Saturday, 18 April 2009

    Ligue 1 week 32

    Caen v Nancy
    Monaco v Rennes
    Valenciennes v Le Mans
    Grenoble v Toulouse
    Sochaux v Auxerre
    Nantes v Nice
    St Etienne v Lille
    PSG v Le Havre
    Lorient v Marseille
    Bordeaux v Lyon

    Huge game on Sunday at the Chaban-Delmas where Lyon travel to take on Bordeaux - second against third. With Marseille having an eminently winnable fixture away at Lorient, both sides will be going into this thinking a win is a must as they aim to keep pace with OM. It may not be that straightforward for Eric Gerets' men as Mamadou Niang and Taye Taiwo are both absent, picking up injuries in the UEFA Cup defeat to Shakhtar. Key players Jeremy Toulalan and the skipper Juninho are both back for Lyon while Bordeaux will still be with Henrique and Fernando Cavenaghi for the Sunday evening game.

    Toulouse are a bit up and down at the moment and are away up in the Alps at Grenoble this week in a game they shouldn't lose. Despite André-Pierre Gignac's goals, they can sometimes struggle in the final third and Grenoble are nothing if not resolute defenders. Grenoble have lost four league games in a row, though they are cup semi-finalists, and are back in trouble after digging themselves out of a slump a month ago. Lille's great run ended last week, but they face struggling St Etienne who are deep in the mire. Their plight hasn't been helped by a training ground scuffle between Araujo Ilan and Yohan Benalouane, although manager Alain Perrin made light of the incident. It doesn't bode well for a side who already look down. PSG aren't out of it yet, although their recent form has been poor and in the midweek defeat in Kiev, they looked a poor side. They face Le Havre at home this week and if ever there was a chance to put recent travails behind them, this is it. Le Havre themselves aren't completely down. They are very nearly down, but a spirited performance last week shows they won't go quietly and Paul Le Guen will have to have his charges on guard for this.

    Nantes fell into the drop zone last week and face Nice at home while the big game at the bottom sees Nancy go to Caen. Nantes have been terrible lately and Nice will fancy their chances there while Caen, despite being two places below their opponents, will go into their game as favourites as they have the better recent form. Sochaux remain in trouble despite being out of the bottom three, but a trip to Auxerre looks too much for them. Either way, any side down there that gets three points this weekend will heap pressure on everybody else.

    Monaco are probably out of trouble now, though nobody is claiming that this has been anything other than a poor season. All of a sudden, the chelping and moaning about them having an unfair advantage what with not actually being French and able to fund themselves through the unique status Monaco enjoys has all stopped. It only matters when they win, apparently, and does not represent a matter of principle. They'll welcome Rennes to the Louis II with the visitors still chasing European football. Valenciennes and Le Mans go head-to-head in a crunch game. The winner will be safe. The loser will suddenly begin to look over their shoulders. So that'll be a draw.

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