With another international break coming to a close with further heartbreak and joy the French Ligue 1 comes back for its ninth round of fixtures. While some teams are falling away into a relegation scrap, the top of the table is still tight and a plethora of teams are still capable of pushing for those coveted European spots. This round of matches promises some more battles between some of these top sides and some sides low down in the table attempting to gain some momentum to help them escape relegation next May.
Today we take a look at two highly competitive Ligue 1 matches, firstly Guingamp, who drew in their last match to Toulouse, will take on Rennes, who went three games without a win after limping to a loss to Caen. Then, Lille, whose last match was suspended after a stand collapsed, will play Troyes, who were recently fortunate to come away with three points against Saint Etienne.
Guingamp vs. Rennes
3-Way: 1: Guingamp +127; X: +246 Draw; 2: Rennes +275
Spread -0.5: Guingamp +117; Rennes -127
Total +2.5: Over +117; Under -127
Guingamp dropped one place to eleventh in Ligue 1’s last round of football as a result of drawing 1:1 at home to Toulouse. The game couldn’t have had a better start for the home side, as Marcus Thuram poked in through the opposition’s goalkeeper’s legs from a cross within the first minute. Thuram almost went on to set up a second for teammate Christophe Kerbat who turned and shot in the box but was denied by a great save. Unfortunately for Guingamp, Toulouse got a deserved equalizer after the ball was touched and chipped over an onrushing goalkeeper. The second half came with Guingamp keeping at it, but they could not find the winning goal, although a Nicolas Benezet free-kick nearly found the winner forcing an acrobatic stop from the Toulouse keeper.
Overall, the result was a fair one with Toulouse just edging it on the number of clear-cut chances, so Guingamp will be satisfied with the result. Guingamp’s season has been average so far, with a mid-table position about where they should be. One positive to take will be the performances of 20-year-old striker Marcus Thuram in their last few games, as he’s managed a couple of goals and has become more and more threatening with the more game time he receives.
Manager Antoine Kombouaré will be without any injury or suspension woes.
A 1:0 loss to Caen will have been another disappointment for Rennes in their last fixture. The only goal of the game came after 34 minutes with an unlucky own goal as a Caen attacker controlled the ball in the box and managed to fight his way through the Rennes defense to get a shot away. Although the attempt at goal was saved it, unfortunately, bounced off defender Rami Bensebaini from the save and went into the back of the net. From then on it was all Rennes, as WahbiKhazri had a great chance before half-time to level the score, but he couldn’t get the ball past the keeper from close range, and then Morgan Amalfitano angled a shot towards the opposite post but was again denied by the keeper. Rennes forged a couple more chances in the second half, but Caen held on to inflict another poor loss on their opponents.
Rennes were left still looking for their second win, failing to win against a team that they should have been capable of beating at home. Often this season, Rennes have achieved some strange results, with positive results coming in their only win against one of Ligue 1’s top sides, Marseille, and earning a respectable draw away at Saint Etienne, but losing to the likes of Caen. Rennes now have a run of winnable games and will have to play like they know they can in every game to get the right results.
Manager Christian Gourcuff will have a full squad roster other than forward Ismaila Sarr who is out with a torn tendon.
Guingamp vs. Rennes- MATCH PREDICTION
Neither side is in particularly good form, although Rennes are definitely the underperforming side. Overall, I would give Guingamp the edge with the home advantage, although it is always difficult to predict what Rennes side will turn up. Furthermore, the last two fixtures between these two sides have produced low-scoring games so I would, therefore, bet on few goals being scored.
MY PICK: Under 2.5 goals (-127)
Lille vs. Troyes
3-Way: 1: Lille -143; X: +305 Draw; 2: Troyes +576
Spread -0.1: Lille +120; Troyes -118
Total +2.5: Over +110; Under -115
Lille’s last match was suspended to be played at a later date after a stage collapsed causing a number of injuries to fans. Lille took the lead within fifteen minutes, and in their fans’ celebrations, one stand collapsed with many fans being injured, although there were, fortunately, no fatal casualties.
Although it was a worrying event and should not be associated with on-field play, the day will not have done anything to help improve Lille’s confidence after a run of poor results. Saying that Lille has a great chance of getting a good result in their next match against a side that was in Ligue 2 only last season.
Manager Marcelo Bielsa will be without Adama Soumaoro with an Achilles injury but will otherwise have a full squad.
Newly promoted side Troyes were fortunate to come away from their last match with a win against Saint Etienne after spending long parts of the game under siege. One thing you cannot question about this side is its character, having had a central-midfielder Karim Azamoum sent off after catching an opposition on the ankle with his studs, but still went into half-time 1:0 up after Bryan Pelé finished a cross to give his team the lead. At half-time, Troyes was a man down and a goal up, although it didn’t last long into the second half as Saint Etienne equalized through a quality finish. However, even then Troyes mustered up the strength to take the lead with ten men once again, this time through a stunning free-kick from Saif-Eddine Khaoui. Troyes held on for the remainder of the game despite a barrage of attacks and were also helped by a Saint Etienne red card five minutes from time.
It was a great show of strength and perseverance from Troyes having been at a one-man disadvantage for most of the match. That being said, Troyes probably deserved to lose the game on balance with far less possession and shots than their opponents. Their win saw them move to the ninth position of the Ligue 1 table, and with their next opponent going through a tough start to their season, Troyes’ position could improve again.
Manager Jean Louis-Garcia will have a full squad selection for his side’s upcoming match, other than attacking midfielder Benjamin Nivet who is out with a foot injury.
Lille vs.Troyes – MATCH PREDICTION
If you’d asked me at the start of the season who would take the three points in this fixture, I would have to say Lille, but Lille has had a disastrous start to their Ligue 1 campaign and seems incapable of getting the right results. Troyes, on the other hand, is in great form, and you’ll get decent odds if you play the double chance on the visiting team.
MY PICK: Troyes DC X2 (+147)
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