Sochaux 8.00, the draw 4.65, Paris SG 1.38
After a disappointing win against Evian at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday (1-0) thanks to a Blaise Matuidi goal one minute from time and after a poor performance, PSG can win the league on Sunday.
A victory at Sochaux will make sure of it but even a draw could be enough depending on Monaco’s result on Saturday. The players can’t wait for the season to end. They have lost motivation, purpose and determination as they know they will win the league and most of them are already thinking about the World Cup and getting there in good form. So this Sochaux game will be another tough one to prepare for for Laurent Blanc.
He made changes in midweek and the players rested (Maxwell, Alex, Christophe Jallet, Lucas Moura) and suspended (Thiago Motta) should all come back to face the Lionceaux. But at the moment, it’s not too much about the personnel but more about the mentalities. Blanc admitted after the Evian game that he could not motivated his team at the moment. It will be exactly the same on Sunday.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not back yet and, even more than Blanc, he is the one who is usually inspiring the team and injecting spirit, motivation and aggression to it. Without him, the team has lost its character and temper. He wants to win every single game, even at training and he demands excellence all the time. Without him, it’s not there anymore. On top of that, the players are tired, physically and mentally and their performances have not been good enough in the last few weeks.
Sochaux will try to take advantage of it on Sunday, at home. The team is still in the bottom three but only two points behind Guingamp. They are on a great run of results with only two defeats in their last 10 league games, for five wins and three draws. It’s even better at home where they have not lost since mid-January.
In those six games, they have won five and drawn one. They are one of the most in-form teams in Ligue 1. The stadium will be packed and unlike the PSG players, the Sochaux ones will be full of motivation and determination.
Hervé Renard, their manager, has made this team very strong defensively and dangerous on set pieces. He knows that Paris are not good on free-kicks and corners and this will be one of the keys of the game. Evian defended very well away in Paris in midweek and Sochaux will try to do the same.
They were thrashed 5-0 at the Parc des Princes back in December, before Renard took over. But they are a completely different team now and I think they will get a draw against an unmotivated PSG at home on Sunday.
Edinson Cavani is favourite to score first at 4.00. My best tip is a draw at half-time and at full-time at 6.75.
Score prediction: Sochaux 1 PSG 1 (8.50)
Ajaccio 8.00, the draw 4.50, Monaco 1.40
Monaco put their French Cup disappointment (defeat at Guingamp in extra-time in the semis) behind them with a win at home against Nice. But they struggled again and didn’t deserve to win the game.
Despite their average performances lately, they have almost secured second place as they are eight points clear of Lille in third with just four games remaining in the season. The objective at the start of the campaign was a top three finish so Monaco have reached their goal.
They want to keep their second place and are very close to do so and end the season on a high though, especially the manager, Claudio Ranieri who knows his future is very much in doubt. I think that the defeat in the Cup will cost him his job in the summer but the final four games of the season will be a crucial if he wants to stay in charge.
He needs to win them all and play better than in the last few games. Radamel Falcao is obviously still out injured but Dimitar Berbatov is doing well replacing him. He scored a beauty last weekend (although his teammates said he wanted to cross the ball) and is leading the team at the moment as James Rodriguez has been poor in the last two games.
Defensively, the problem is still the same: Monaco are too wobbly and not strong enough. They still allow too many chances for the opposition in each game, as was the case against Nice at the weekend where they were lucky not to concede. They have won their last three league games now though and will be favourites tomorrow away at Ajaccio despite losing their last two Ligue 1 games there.
The Corsican club are the first team relegated to Ligue 2 this season. Their defeat at Bastia (2-1), their arch rivals and the other Corsican team in Ligue 1, was hard to swallow, especially considering the provocation from the Bastia fans. They knew they would go down though after spending most of the season in the bottom three.
So it was not a surprise, and they will try to salvage some pride by finishing the season in the best way possible. They have four games to go and you know they will be motivated and determined until the last second of the last game they will play in the top flight this season.
The reason for their relegation is pretty simple: they haven’t been good enough and their squad is not good enough. They have won just one of their last 10 league games, against Valenciennes also in the bottom three, and conceded 22 goals in those 10 matches. They will struggle again on Saturday against Monaco who will win this game.
Berbatov is favourite to score first at 4.50. My best tip is Monaco to win both halves at 3.80.
Score prediction: Ajaccio 0 Monaco 2 (6.25)
Lille 1.78, the draw 3.40, Bordeaux 4.75
Last Sunday, Lille once again showed why they are so strong defensively this season. They drew at Marseille (0-0) and kept their 21st clean sheet of the campaign.
It’s the best record in Europe’s five top leagues and it’s the main reason why they are third this season. They don’t score many but they are the second best defence (20 goals conceded) just behind PSG (19). It will be their strength again at the weekend against Bordeaux.
They are seven points clear of St Etienne in fourth and they can secure Champions League football for next season with a win on Sunday, depending on the result of les Verts away at Evian. Lille have won 1-0 nine times this season, which is impressive. It is their style of football, both at home and away.
Like in the first half of the season, they are on a great 11-game unbeaten run. It was stopped by Bordeaux back in November in the first half of the season and they want their revenge on Sunday evening.
The manager has all his players available for this game as Basa should be back after missing out on the Marseille game at the last minute. Lille have a great home record against Bordeaux in Ligue 1. They lost just once of their last 10 encounters against their opponents at home. They have also plenty of momentum after this great run of games without defeats and they will be as solid as usual on Sunday evening.
For Bordeaux, the season keeps being the same: inconsistent. Francis Gillot’s side are capable of great things like beating Lille and St Etienne or drawing with Marseille and Lille, but also losing at Sochaux, at home to Nantes or in the Cup at L’Ile Rousse – a team playing in the French equivalent of the Conference – and drawing at Ajaccio.
The team is seventh in the table which is remarkable considering the ups and downs they’ve had this season. They still have a chance to clinch sixth or even fifth position. They are on a good six game unbeaten run but with five draws and just one win.
It was last Sunday when they battered Guingamp (5-1). They have confidence and their giant striker Cheick Diabaté scored a hat-trick in that game too. However, I think the Lille defence will be too strong for them and that the home side will just get yet another narrow win.
Salomon Kalou is favourite to score first at 6.00. My best tip is under 1.5 goals scored in the game at 3.10.
Score prediction: Lille 1 Bordeaux 0 (6.75).