Ligue 1 Preview: Lille, Monaco eye leaders PSG
By Football News
The pick of the weekend's Ligue 1 action takes place at the Grand Stade Lille Metropole on Sunday as Lille host Monaco.
The visitors have been in fine form this season and sit level on points with leaders Paris Saint-Germain after 11 games, although unbeaten Monaco have drawn two of their last five matches in Ligue 1.
A run of three consecutive league wins coupled with the meanest defence in Ligue 1 - having conceded just four times in 2013-14 - has propelled Lille into third and to within two points of Claudio Ranieri's men.
Rene Girard, who will be keen to see a reaction following Tuesday's Coupe de la Ligue humbling against Auxerre, has seen his defence keep clean sheets in their last six Ligue 1 outings, but this mean streak will be put to the test when the likes of Radamel Falcao and Emmanuel Riviere come to town.
The duo have scored 14 league goals between them this term, with both sides able to move top of the table by the close of the weekend's play, depending on how PSG fare against Lorient at the Parc des Princes on Friday.
Laurent Blanc's PSG needed a 93rd-minute Blaise Matuidi goal to salvage a point against Saint-Etienne on Sunday and will be wary of a Lorient side who moved out of the relegation zone on Saturday thanks to a 2-1 win over Sochaux.
The defending champions do not have the best of records against Lorient either, winning just two of their last eight meetings.
Nantes, who saw their four-match unbeaten league run ended by Lille on Friday, can strengthen their hold on the UEFA Europa League spot against Montpellier, while Marseille will be keen to end their five-game losing streak in all competitions away at Rennes.
At the foot of the table, bottom side Valenciennes can leapfrog Saturday's opponents Ajaccio with a victory, although both sides have won just once in the league all season.
Herve Renard will hope for his Sochaux side to bounce back from their defeat to Lorient and put in a repeat of the performance that gained them a point against Monaco when they take on Saint-Etienne at the Stade Auguste Bonal.
Guingamp will look to make it four league wins in a row when they take on struggling Lyon, while Reims go into their clash with Bastia off the back of their dramatic 3-2 win over Marseille.
Evian host Toulouse on Saturday and Nice welcome Bordeaux to the Allianz Riviera a day later.