Topical: Lyon exert pressure on Lille for 2nd place after shock loss

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Lyon’s objective this season in Ligue 1 is to get the runners up spot which affords teams in France automatic qualification for the Champions League. For most of the season they have been locked in a battle with Lille who have surprised everyone. Only a week ago it looked as if Lyon’s dream was over but Lille finally slipped up.

That slip up came at the weekend when Lille lost at home to Monaco 1-0 in what was seen as a shock. True Monaco have progressed since Thierry Henry was sacked but they still hadn’t found their stride away from home, so the thought of going to Lille and getting all three points seemed unrealistic.

What added salt to the wounds for Lille was that it was a last minute goal for Monaco through Carlos Vinicius that settled matters and despite Lille having 12 attempts on goal they had to succumb to only their first defeat in their last 10 games. It was a defeat that let Lyon right in. Lyon beat Montpellier 3-2 in a thrilling game which means that the gap between 2nd and 3rd has been reduced to just 4 points with 9 games left. Lille’s next game is away to Nantes and Lyon will play Rennes at Roazhon Park.

The game that everyone was talking about was PSG and Marseille’s match up on Sunday night. The two biggest rivalries in French football came together in Paris, but the result was inevitably the same as PSG ran out 3-1 winners to keep their 100% success rate at home. Because Lille lost PSG also went 20 points ahead in the league.

Kylian Mbappe scored his 25th goal of the season for PSG  but then missed a last minute penalty. The hero of the day for the home side was Angel Di Maria who scored a brace before Steve Mandanda was sent off for the visitors in a frantic and exciting game. The defeat for Marseille means that they have slipped 6 points behind 3rd place Lyon in the chase for the final Champions League spot.

Saint Etienne ended their losing run in style by defeating Caen 5-0 in a one sided match which saw five different goal scorers and just one shot on target for the home side who are now bottom of the league.

Reims impressive unbeaten run continued as they beat Nantes 1-0 and have put the pressure on Marseille in the process being just 1 point behind them. The run in for the top six is still undecided and looks set to go down to the wire. Montpellier’s loss against Lyon has dealt a huge blow to their top 6 aspirations as they have fallen four points behind 6th place. Rennes in 8th place dropped another two points as they drew 1-1 against Bordeaux, but the draw did mean the side have not lost  a game for the past 3 weeks.

Whilst PSG and Lille are still clear of the chasing pack it is interesting to note that there is just 7 points between 3rd and 6th, and most of the European places are still up for grabs. Ligue 1 takes a break next weekend and returns on the weekend of March 29th.

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Topical: Ligue 1 Lille continue to make strides as Reims edge into Europe

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The 28th week of Ligue 1 was another exciting one and we should start with league leaders PSG who gladly had the weekend off after they were knocked out of the Champions League against Manchester United. Their game against Nantes was postponed to a later date.

That gave Lille an opportunity to close the gap on the French champions which they did with a hard fought 1-0 win over Saint Etienne. For many this was the game of the weekend as the two top 5 teams went head to head. It ended with Nicolas Pepe grabbing the winner for Lille with just three minutes left and then Saint Etienne ended the game with 9 players as frustrations took over the game. Despite the win Lille are still 14 points behind PSG and PSG have 2 games in hand.

Lyon maintained 3rd position but it was not a good weekend for the club who slipped 7 points behind Lille and an automatic qualification for the Champions League. They could only draw 2-2 away to Strasbourg. The draw also means that Marseille have caught up to Lyon as they try and take the last remaining Champions League place away.

Marseille were involved in a South of France derby as they took on Nice and it was inevitable who was going to get the winning goal. The one and only Mario Balotelli. The Italian who moved from Nice to Marseille in January has been in great form for the home side. Nice manager Patrick Vieira was humble in defeat and even had time to give Balotelli a warm hug, but the defeat would have hurt the former Arsenal player. As for Marseille they have won 4 games from their past 5.

With Saint Etienne losing to Lille it means that Reims entered dizzying heights and moved into the top 5. This position would be enough to secure a Europa League place if PSG win the Coupe de France. Though there is a long way to go it was a moment of clarity for such an historic team in France and it would be special to see the team in a European competition once again. They drew 1-1 away to Dijon, and have drawn their last two games and if they are starting to dream big they will have to start winning games more consistently.

The feel good factor continued at Rennes this past weekend. After the club beat Arsenal 3-1 in the last 16 of the Europa League they repeated that trick and won by the same score line against Caen to move past Nice and into 8th place.

The race for Europe is hotting up with a possible 5 places at stake and at least 9 teams in with a shout, the final straight of Ligue 1 is upon us and it should be very exciting indeed. PSG play their game in hand against Dijon on Tuesday, March 12th.

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Topical: Ligue 1 from leaders PSG to the chasing pack of Lyon and Marseille

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The 27th round of Ligue 1 took place this past weekend and it was a week that saw PSG maintain their 17 point lead at the top of the league with the top 4 clubs all winning their respective games.

It’s a question of when and not if PSG pick up their 8th Ligue 1 title (6 wins in the last 7 years) as the French champions beat Caen 2-1. Man of the moment Kylian Mbappe who has stepped up to another level since Neymar and Edinson Cavani were struck down by injuries scored both goals and leads the goal scoring charts with 24 so far. If PSG can win their game in hand they could go 20 points clear at the top as coach Thomas Tuchel, in his debut season, looks to break every domestic record en route.

Lille are still in 2nd place but Lyon will not give up the chase for the runner up spot. They currently lead Lyon by 5 points and have lost just 1 game at home all season. But have Lyon made a statement of intent? Their 5-1 demolishing of Toulouse suggests they have. Lyon currently in 3rd are also sitting in the final Champions League qualification spot with no less than 3 other teams vying for that position.

Marseille coach Rudi Garcia looked to be on the ropes a few months ago when Marseille literally couldn’t buy a win and the fans started to protest. But 4 wins in their last five games has sent L’OM up the table where the objective now has to be to finish in at least 3rd place. They have only conceded 3 goals in their last 6 games and new signing Mario Balotelli has been superb, scoring 4 goals in his first six games with the club.

If any of the top 8 clubs are going to fall away a candidate could be Saint Etienne who have been solid overall but have found a run of inconsistency which has seen them lose 3 of their last five games. On form the club would be in 12th place.

Attention has been turned to Reims who are having their best season in the top flight in over 40 years. Reims are one of the most historical teams in Europe after reaching the very first European Cup final, a trick they repeated the following year in the mid 1950′s and the club have forever been linked to the European Cup/Champions League. Can they make it back there? It seems unlikely but they will give it a go and currently sit in 6th place and 7 points behind 3rd position. The teams two game winning run came to an end against Amiens when they could only draw 2-2, however they were losing that match before making a final comeback near the end of time.

Nice ended their poor form with a 1-0 win over Strasbourg but both teams ended up with 10 players apiece as tempers flared towards the end of the game. It was a significant win for Patrick Vieira, whose has guided the team brilliantly this season, however there has been an implosion of such in the last month and he will be hoping that the teams fortunes can change with a much needed 3 points.

One club whose fortunes need to change is Montpellier who keep slipping down the table and are now in 8th place having gone the last 5 games without victory. They are 6 points behind 4th place and have picked up just 3 points from their last available 15, and are in real danger of missing out on a European place after such a good first half of the season. The club did not play at the weekend though and will instead play tonight against Bordeaux. Win that and they could climb to 7th place and hopefully for them have a new found belief, because if any team in the top half of the league needs a win it is La Paillade who are consequently celebrating their 100th anniversary as a club.

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Mbappe loses appeal and will miss PSG clash with Reims

mbappe3France international Kylian Mbappe has lost his appeal against the red card he received at the start of September and will now sit out a third game, ruling him out of Paris Saint-Germain’s clash with Reims this week. The Ligue 1 leaders – already five points clear at the top, ahead of Lille – will likely stick with a front three of Edinson Cavani, Neymar  and Julian Draxler in the 19-year-old’s absence. Mbappe had been sent off in PSG’s 4-2 win over Nimes on September 1, after lashing out at Teji Sevanier. Sevanier was also banned – for four games in his instance – for his part in the fracas. Mbappe has begun the season in scintillating form, scoring four goals from his opening three appearances.

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