Lille v Marseille, Friday 7.45pm
Marseille travel to Lille on Friday for a tricky game away from home. They will face their former manager, Franck Passi, who was sacked in October from Marseille and was appointed last month at Lille until the end of the season.
Rudi Garcia, his counterpart, managed Lille from 2008 to 2013, and it will be special for him as well to go back to Lille. L’OM are 5th in the table after their win last weekend against Angers at home (4-0).
They were very comfortable and have some momentum going into this game. Their away form is not the greatest this season (three wins, three draws and eight defeats) with one win in their last four away league matches but they are full of confidence. Florian Thauvin, who is performing very well this season, has been called up for France by Didier Deschamps for the first time in his career and Dimitri Payet is back to his best and really inspiring this team.
Bafétimbi Gomis is back from injury and could start up front unless Rudi Garcia keeps Remi Cabella in a false 9 role. The manager will keep his 4-3-3 formation. Evra and Diaby are still out injured while William Vainqueur is suspended which is a huge blow. So Anguissa will come back into the starting line-up. But everybody else is available. Marseille have a good record at Lille where they have won in their last two visits.
Lille are breathing better after their win last weekend at Nancy (2-1). They are now 14th in the table, five points clear of 18th place. It was their first win in their last three league matches and it is a huge relief. They have prepared very well for this prestigious game.
The stadium will be full as well and it is a huge game for Franck Passi, the manager, against his former club. Marko Basa, the very experience defender, is out injured though. He will be replaced by Junior Alonso, one of the new January signings. Lille will play in a 4-2-3-1 and will try to cause problems to the Marseille defence. However, I think Marseille are on a roll at the moment and I can see them winning in Lille again.
The odds are even with an away win for Marseille at 2.85. A draw is at 3.00 and a Lille home win is at 2.75.
Bafétimbi Gomis is favourite to score first at 6.00. My best tip is Marseille to win and both teams to score at 5.40.
Score prediction: Lille 1 Marseille 2 (10.50)
Nantes v Nice, Saturday 4pm
Nice dropped two important points last weekend and are now third in the table, five points behind Monaco and two behind PSG in second place. They can put them under pressure if they win on Saturday away at Nantes while PSG and Monaco will only play on Sunday.
However, Nice will be without their two best players in Alassane Plea, the club’s top scorer, and Wylan Cyprien, the club’s best player this season, who got injured last weekend and, like Plea, should also miss the rest of the season. It is a huge blow to lose Cyprien. He had been outstanding all season and was the saviour for Nice on a few occasions too. To replace him, Lucien Favre has a few options like Walter or Koziello to play in a 4-3-3 with Obbadi and Seri in midfield.
Up front, Mario Balotelli was back on the score sheet last weekend which was important for him. Younes Belhanda is back from suspension too after missing last weekend’s game and it is a big boost for the team. He will play on the wing with Eysseric on the other side. Nice needs to be more solid defensively after mistakes cost them two goals last weekend. They know what to expect with Nantes and their 4-4-2 formation and aggressive style of play. Nice will have to be ready for a fight.
The home side, Nantes, 10th in the table, after a great win at Montpellier last weekend (3-2). Their heavy defeat at Monaco (4-0) is their only one in their last six league matches. They are on a good run but they will be without Bammou and Pardo, both suspended. But Nakoulma has had a great impact offensively since joining in January with two goals and an assist in his three league appearances so far. I can see Nantes causing problems to Nice and the game ending in a draw.
The odds are in favour of Nantes with a home win at 2.40. A draw is at 3.10 and a Nice away win is at 3.20.
Emiliano Sala is favourite to score first at 6.00. My best tip is a draw at half time and a draw at full time at 4.25.
Score prediction: Nantes 1 Nice 1 (6.50)