Metz v Marseille, Friday 7.45pm
Marseille beat Lyon in the French Cup in midweek (2-1 AET) to prepare perfectly for their trip to Metz on Friday evening. They now have won their last two matches in all competitions and they need to build on this run. They are sixth in the table now and need to put pressure on the teams above them, St Etienne and Lyon who face each other on Sunday evening.
This is a great opportunity for l’OM. Dimitri Payet could make his first start since returning to the club from West Ham. He came on in midweek against Lyon but he is still a bit short of match fitness after not playing competitive matches for three weeks. However, his return has made the fans very happy and there is a great atmosphere in and around the club at the moment.
The team needs to take advantage of it without getting carried away. They have strengthened their squad very well on top of Payet with Patrice Evra, Morgan Sanson and Gregory Sertic. Lassana Diarra should miss out once again as he is still looking to leave the club while Alessandrini has left already.
Bedimo is still not fit yet like Hubocan and Evra got injured against Lyon too. So Doria will play at left back in Rudi Garcia’s 4-3-3 formation. Marseille have won three of their last four matches away at Metz in the league and they are big favourites.
For the home side, it was a very good point won at Metz (0-0) three weeks ago followed by an encouraging home victory against Montpellier (2-0). But last weekend, they lost at Angers and are still only 19th in the table. They need points badly and for that, they were active in the transfer window, recruiting Cheick Diabaté up front, who scored twice against Montpellier or Diagne in midfield.
Unfortunately, he is suspended for this game. Mandjeck is away at the African Cup of Nations too. Marseille have a lot of momentum coming into this game and they will be too good for the home side.
The odds are massively in favour of Marseille with an away win at 1.90. A draw is at 3.50 and a Metz home win is at 4.20.
Bafétimbi Gomis is favourite to score first at 5.00. My best tip is Dimitri Payet to score at anytime at 3.40.
Score prediction: Metz 0 Marseille 3 (16.00)
Monaco v Nice, Saturday 4pm
This is the biggest game of the weekend in Ligue 1 on Saturday afternoon. It is first against second in the table, both level on points, a huge Mediterranean derby between Monaco and Nice in a huge title race. In the reverse fixture, Monaco were demolished by the counter attacks from Nice but they took a valuable and deserved point last weekend at the Parc des Princes against PSG (1-1).
This a huge game in the season. Monaco played in midweek in the French Cup and rested a lot of key players while Nice were already out of the competition. So the visitors had a week to prepare for this huge clash. Monaco, however, have a full squad available and Leonardo Jardim will field his strongest team, probably the same one that started against PSG last weekend.
It will be a 4-4-2 formation with Lemar, Bernardo Silva, Germain and Falcao up front. They have been outstanding at home this season in all competitions, sometimes even unstoppable. They are scoring for fun and are really solid defensively too. Even if the pressure will be on the home side, as the host and the league leaders, they are used to it and can cope well too.
They will make sure that they don’t get too exposed to the Nice counter-attacks either, like in the reverse fixture. They have a lot of momentum and confidence at the moment and they feel it is the right time to play against Nice who are not at their best at the moment. But Monaco don’t do well at home against Nice with only three wins in their last ten league games against them at home.
Nice, on the other side, have nothing to lose really over there. They are the underdogs, like they were back in December against PSG in Paris (2-2), but they don’t mind that. They will be happy with Monaco having the pressure and not them. It is a huge game but they are ready for it. After a disappointing end of 2016 and a slow start of 2017, they finally won last weekend against Guingamp (3-1).
Balotelli and Plea both scored and collectively it was much better from the former league leaders. Ricardo Perreira is the only player missing for Nice. Belhanda is back in the squad but will start on the bench while Cyprien has been passed fit. This is a huge game and Nice have enough qualities to cause problems for Monaco. However, I still think the leader, at home, will get the three points.
The odds are massively in favour of Monaco with a home win at 1.54. A draw is at 4.25 and a Nice away win is at 6.00.
Radomes Falcao is favourite to score first at 4.60. My best tip is Monaco to win and both teams to score at 3.15.
Score prediction: Monaco 2 Nice 1 (8.50)
Dijon v PSG, Saturday 7pm
For the first time since 2012, PSG will play on a Saturday evening in the league, it will be at Dijon. The Parisians were fuming after dropping two points in the dying seconds against Monaco last Sunday (1-1) but it was a solid performance nevertheless and they confirmed it by destroying Rennes in the French Cup (4-0) on Wednesday. There is a lot of momentum in the team at the moment and Unaï Emery has a lot of options available for him.
Only Trapp and Verratti are injured at the moment and will miss this trip but everybody else is available even if Angel Di Maria and Thomas Meunier are doubtful after little injuries. Edinson Cavani scored again last weekend against Monaco and has now 21 goals in the league this season.
Julian Draxler continued his amazing adaptation to his new team by scoring twice in midweek too while Javier Pastore finally made his return to the first team action after his injuries. PSG should line up once more in a 4-3-3 formation on Saturday and will put a lot of intensity in the game.
For Dijon, this is the biggest game of the season. The stadium will be sold out and the players feel they have nothing to lose against the biggest club in the league. Dijon have a good record at home this season where they beat Lyon (4-2) or drew with Monaco (1-1) in the league a few weeks back. They have only lost twice in 11 home league games this season. They play in a 4-4-2 formation, never give up and give everything they have for the team. But it will be tough for them against Paris and I think the French Champions will get a win.
The odds are massively in favour of PSG with an away win at 1.33. The draw is at 5.00 and a Dijon home win is at 10.00.
Edinson Cavani is favourite to score first at 3.40. My best tip is PSG to win without conceding a goal at 2.23.
Score prediction: Dijon 0 PSG 2 (8.00)