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 Ligue 1 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 the relegation next May.
In today’s double-match we take a look at two fiercely competitive matches. The first of which will see Saint Etienne, who have performed well overall this season, although suffered from a poor loss at Troyes in their last fixture, host Metz who have struggled for points all season. In the second match, two more Ligue 1 sides who are struggling to win, Toulouse and Amiens, will battle it out at the Stadium Municipal.
Saint Etienne vs. Metz
3-Way: 1: Saint Etienne -159; X: +330 Draw; 2: Metz +650
Spread -1: Saint Etienne -106; Metz +104
Total +2.5: Over -101; Under -104
Les Verts were dealt a poor result in an enthralling match away at newly promoted Troyes as they lost 2:1. Saint Etienne’s half started brightly, with an early long-range effort well saved and then a red card for a Troyes player, seeming to place them in the driving seat. For all of Saint Etienne’s good work and with a man advantage, they still managed to concede the first goal, crossed in and finished just before halftime. The home side never lost heart, however, and managed to bring it back to level-terms when Remy Cabella pulled the ball back to Hernani on the D of the penalty area, who proceeded to smash the ball into the corner. Undeservedly, Troyes retook the advantage through a brilliant free-kick, although Saint Etienne never gave up and kept coming forward with a couple of very close efforts. Unfortunately, their hopes dwindled when goal scorer Hernani was sent off for a late tackle with just over five minutes to go.
The late red card was a product of some frustrated players, and this has been a recurring issue for this Saint Etienne side who seem incapable of maintaining their discipline, having received three red cards in their first eight games. All things said, they are still in seventh position of the Ligue 1 table, just three points off of third, despite only winning once in their last five matches. Furthermore, it has to be said that they were a little unlucky not to come away with at least a point in their last fixture.
Manager Oscar Garcia will be with a full squad other than defender Florentin Pogba who is out with a malleolar injury.
Metz’s crisis continued following another loss to Nantes in calamitous circumstances away from home in their last fixture. Nantes dominated the game from the off, with it taking just three minutes to open the scoring. Metz goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was busy all day and performed as well as he could, especially when his workload was doubled after Benoit Assou-Ekotto was sent for early baths following a second yellow card and his second red card of the season. Luckily, in the dying moments of the game, Metz was handed a life-line when Opa N’Guette was fouled in the box and a penalty was consequently awarded. The spot-kick was well taken from Nolan Roux, but the referee disallowed the goal due to players running into the box and ordered a retake, which Roux skied over the bar.
It was another poor performance from Metz, and they would have been lucky to get away with the draw had they converted the penalty. There aren’t many positives to take from Metz’s season so far, with only three points and stuck at rock bottom. The only positive they can take is that they are still only three points off of 17th position in Ligue 1, but they’ll have to start getting some more points on the table soon.
Manager Philippe Hinschberger will have a full squad for Saturday’s match.
Saint Etienne vs. Metz – MATCH PREDICTION
Although Saint Etienne had a disappointing result, this fixture should be one of, if not the easiest of their entire Ligue 1 season. They have some quality players like Remy Cabella and Jonathan Bamba who shouldn’t find it too difficult to unlock a leaky Metz defense, so I would definitely recommend going for a reasonably convincing Saint Etienne win.
MY PICK: Saint Etienne -1 AH (-106)
Toulouse vs. Amiens
3-Way: 1: Toulouse -108; X: +250 Draw; 2: Amiens +490
Spread -0. 5: Toulouse -119; Amiens +110
Total +2: Over -118; Under +114
Toulouse’s winless streak was extended after they drew 1:1 away to Guingamp in their previous fixture. Guingamp took the lead within one minute from a cross but Toulouse responded well with two chances from Andy Delort coming close. Eventually, Toulouse’s efforts were rewarded as winger Somalia beat the onrushing keeper to a bouncing ball and poked it over the keeper and into the net. The second half saw a few chances for either side without any end product as the game ended 1:1, which on balance was a fair scoreline.
The result saw Toulouse remain in 14th position in the Ligue 1 table standings, which is about right for a team of their caliber, but you can’t help but feel that they could be higher up in the table had they purchased a proven goal-scorer. As it is, their only threat seems to be Andy Delort, who himself has only scored once this season, so you would hope that the team receives investment in the forwards areas in the next transfer window.
Manager Pascal Dupraz will still be missing winger Max Gradel through a leg injury but will otherwise have a full squad.
Amiens’ last match was suspended to be played at a later date after a stage collapsed causing a number of injuries to their opposition’s 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.
The newly-promoted side have been in poor form recently, and have struggled to threaten up front throughout their season. A long international break may have done some good to the side, and they’ll hope to have recovered well enough to score their first goal in four Ligue 1 matches.
Manager Christophé Pelissier will have a full squad selection for his side’s upcoming match.
Toulouse vs.Amiens – MATCH PREDICTION
Neither side can say that they’ve performed well recently, but Toulouse’s home form has been relatively good this season so far. Add to that that Amiens has managed just one away goal all season and the picture starts to become clearer.
I would suggest going for a simple Toulouse win.
MY PICK: Toulouse to WIN (-108)
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