Monaco - Nice - Saturday 13.00 GMT
Monaco v Nice on Saturday afternoon is the second biggest derby of the weekend in Ligue 1. It is also always a huge match between two cities so close to each other geographically. And this season, it is even more significant as Monaco are second in the table and Nice third, just three points behind!
A win for Nice against their arch-rivals and they would go second in the table thanks to their better goal difference. It would be an incredible coup for Claude Puel and his players. They have been playing the best football with PSG in Ligue 1 this campaign.
Hatem Ben Arfa has been inspirational for them with 11 league goals already this year and their midfield with Serri, Mendy and Koziello has been impressive too. They are just inconsistent at times in the league, capable of great performances and then more mediocre ones. Valère Germain, the Nice striker, will face his former club who has loaned him to Nice. It will be a special game for him. Boomer and Plea are still out injured and Nice will remember that they won in Monaco last season. They will try to reproduce this exploit but they now how tough to play Monaco is at the moment.
The heavy defeat at Angers last weekend (3-0) was just an accident. L’ASM are strong collectively, and difficult to break down. They bounced back well by beating Bastia (2-0) in midweek and are ready for this big derby. It is the game of the season so far for Monaco.
A win on Saturday will put Nice six points behind and strengthen their second place in the table. They will have Thomas Lemar back which is a huge boost and maybe even Jeremy Toulalan in midfield. Up front, Wagner Love made his first start for the club against Bastia and did well as a lone striker. He needs a few more games to get back to full fitness but it was promising. Jemerson, the Brazilian defender that the club signed from Corinthians in January, will be in the squad but should start on the bench. Monaco don’t have the best of records against Nice at home with just two wins in their last ten matches. But this time, I can see them taking the full three points.
The odds are massively in favour of Monaco with a home win at 1.82. A draw is at 3.40 and a Nice away win is at 4.85, but my best tip is Monaco to win with both teams to score at 4.50.
Score prediction: Monaco 2 Nice 1 at 9.50
Angers - Lyon - Saturday 16.00 GMT
This is another interesting game this weekend in Ligue 1.
Angers, in 4th position in the table, are the big surprise of the season so far. They have been fantastic, especially at home where they have lost only once all season in the league. They battered Monaco (3-0) last weekend but lost disappointingly away at Reims in midweek. They want to bounce back now on Saturday against Lyon. It is another big game after PSG and Monaco in the last few weeks but they feel ready.
They have the best defence in the league at home with only four goals concede in 12 matches. They are so well organised and hard to break down. They are a pain to play against and they will show it again on Saturday.
They will rely once again on set pieces, where they are very efficient, and on counter attacks. They have almost all their squad fully fit and will count on their captain Cheick Ndoye to lead the team from midfield. He has a been a revelation this year and will be hard to handle for Lyon. It will be a special game for Yattara up front as he comes up against his former club Lyon, where he went to the academy and made his professional debut. This could be a massive game in Angers’ season if they get a win. They would make a big statement in the race for a top six finish.
For Lyon, this is a crucial game too. L’OL are only 10th in the table despite their good win against Bordeaux (3-0) in midweek. They are stuck for now in mid-table but a win on Saturday at Angers will bring them back one point behind their opponents and back in the race for the European places, considering Nice and Monaco play each other, just like Bordeaux and St Etienne and Marseille and PSG.
It is a perfect opportunity for them to start climbing back towards the top of the table. A top three finish is still the objective and they played better against Bordeaux to finally get a win that had been really hard to come after three matches in the league without one.
But now they have some momentum and some confidence too. Only Rafael and Fekir are out so Genesio will have choices when picking his team. They know Angers are tough to play against but they feel really positive. However, I think Lyon will only get a draw on Saturday at the Stade Jean Bouin.
The odds are in favour of Lyon with an away win at 2.28. A draw is at 3.20 and a Angers home win is at 3.35, but my best tip is both teams to score in the second half at 4.00.
Score prediction: Angers 1 Lyon 1 at 7.00
Look out for Julien's Preview of Marseille-PSG over the weekend