Lille 1.57, draw 3.80, Valenciennes 6.25
This is one of the biggest derbies in France. There are only a few kilometres between Lille and Valenciennes in the North of France and the two clubs and sets of fans hate each other. And more than ever this is a crucial game for both teams.
Lille are still in the race to finish second as they are currently only six points behind Monaco. Valenciennes, on the other hand, are fighting to stay up. They are six points behind Evian, the first team outside of the relegation zone. Lille got a very solid win last weekend in Toulouse with two great team goals scored. They are unbeaten in Ligue 1 since February 2nd and their momentum and confidence are massive, even with their two full backs (Franck Béria and Pape Souaré) suspended.
However, they will feel the pressure of their fans on Saturday as the crowd was not happy after the poor performance against Guingamp (1-0) two weeks ago at home. The supporters didn’t like the way the team played and demand more attacking football. The results are there but they feel the team should do more. However, for such a big derby, the fans will be behind the team. Lille haven’t lost at home to Valenciennes in seven years and it is a massive game at both ends of the table.
Valenciennes were heartbroken last weekend when their best player Majeed Waris missed a last minute penalty in the home defeat against Lyon (2-1). The Ghanaian international brought them back in the game with a goal (his ninth in 12 games since joining the club in January) but he missed a very important penalty which could prove to be very costly come the end of the season.
With only six games to go, VA need points starting with this game tomorrow in the biggest North derby in years. They lost Marco Da Silva who was sent off against Lyon and their squad is already depleted. It could be a very long afternoon for them even if they will fight hard and make life very difficult for the Lille players. But I don’t think it will be enough as Lille will power through this derby I think in front of a packed stadium.
Salomon Kalou is favourite to score first at 4.40, but my best tip is Lille to win without conceding a goal at 2.40.
Score prediction: Lille 2 Valenciennes 0 7.50.
Rennes 3.05, draw 3.15, Monaco 2.40
Once again, Monaco didn’t play well last weekend against Nantes but won (3-1). The most important thing for them is to win. However, one day it will not be enough and the team of the Principality will get beaten somewhere, like at Evian two weeks ago (a 1-0 defeat).
It could happen again on Saturday at Rennes. It is not an easy place to go, especially considering Monaco’s recent difficulties both at home and away. They have only won three of their last six league games and they have too often conceded goals and chances. The manager Claudio Ranieri is under more and more pressure as reports in France say that the club are interested in getting Zinedine Zidane as manager for next season. They would sack Ranieri, whose team is only six points clear of third place Lille now.
Rennes will give Monaco a right contest on Saturday, like Nantes did last weekend. Monaco thanked James Rodriguez for winning the game almost on his own with two goals and an assist. He is in top form and the team will rely on him once more to keep the gap with Lille intact.
The more worrying issue for Ranieri is the defending of the team. They are too open at the back and Jérémy Toulalan, who was so good all season in his holding midfielder role, has started to look jaded. On top of that, Monaco never do well in Rennes with only two wins in their last 10 games there.
It is not the right time to play Rennes anyway. Philippe Montanier’s men are finally finding their best form. They are unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions, beating Marseille away in Ligue 1 and Lille at home in the Cup quarter-final.
Last weekend, they came back from 0-2 at Bordeaux to snatch a draw (2-2). In Ola Toivonen, they got the best signing of the winter. He is inspiring the team and has scored six goals in 10 games since joining the club. Romain Alessandrini is back to his best level too and I believe Rennes will cause problems to Monaco on Saturday. They will get a draw I think. And again, I can see a lot of goals in this game.
Dimitar Berbatov is favourite to score first at 5.40, but my best tip is Monaco to score in both halves at 3.85. James Rodriguez to score at 3.60 is also very interesting.
Score prediction: Rennes 2 Monaco 2 15.00.