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 Ligue 1 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.
In today’s matchup, we first take a look at a match between Dijon, who has been in poor form recently with a recent 1:1 draw with Strasbourg, and Paris SG, who has been in unstoppable form, recently dispatching Bordeaux 6:2. In the other game, an on-form Caen side will take on an Angers who seem to be only dealing in draws in this Ligue 1 campaign.
Dijon vs. Paris SG
3-Way: 1: Dijon +3000; X: +950 Draw; 2: Paris SG -435
Spread +2.5: Dijon -109; Paris SG +108
Total +3.5: Over -111; Under +108
Dijon was left still looking for a win after a three-game winless streak was extended to four in a 1:1 draw with Strasbourg. Overall, it was a poor match will little quality, with Valentin Rosier having the only significant chance in the first half forcing a strong parry from the Strasbourg keeper with a long-range effort. In the second half, substitute Kwon Chang-Hoon made an instant impact after coming on in the 73rd minute, scoring an easy tap-in when teammate Rosier capitalized on defensive confusion to latch onto a loose ball and set up Kwon. Unfortunately for Dijon, a cynical challenge from Cédric Yamberé as the last defender took his side down to ten men and gave Strasbourg a chance for a way back into the game. Dijon’s opponents took that chance after the keeper couldn’t get to the ball quick enough, although he should have been protected better by his defender, and the ball was touched away by an attacker and finished.
Despite sitting one place above Ligue 1 relegation zone, the team below them, Lille, are just a point behind with a game in hand. Furthermore, Dijon is showing early signs of being in serious danger of relegation, having so far had the worst defense in the league with seventeen goals conceded so far. In addition, they are now four Ligue 1 games without a win and an away fixture to PSG is almost a guarantee that that record will be extended.
Manager Olivier Dall’Oglio will be without centre-back Wesley Lautoa with a fractured leg.
League leaders Paris Saint-Germain kept their rivals Monaco at arm’s length after they destroyed previously unbeaten Bordeaux 6:2 at home. Neymar started the rout with an excellently-executed long-range free-kick going into the top corner off the underside of the crossbar. The Brazilian then contributed with an assist for Edinson Cavani who poked home to help dispel rumors of bad blood between the two South Americans. It didn’t take too long for PSG to add to Bordeaux’s woes with a third from Thomas Meunier turning in Julian Draxler’s cross, making it 3:0 in just over 20 minutes.
Bordeaux then pulled one back but the three-goal lead was recovered when a handball in the box gave PSG a penalty, scored by Neymar who has seemingly assumed penalty duties following his spat with Cavani. The lead was then extended to four and the game put beyond doubt with the sweetest strike of the match as Kylian Mbappé chipped the ball to teammate Julian Draxler who smashed the ball on the volley into the corner of the net.
Half-time came with PSG taking a 5:1 lead, and they came out in the second half with their foot off the gas, with just the one goal from Mbappé to make the score 6:1. Bordeaux scored another consolation goal with a penalty, but they were given a torrid time by the PSG attack on the day and Les Parisiens came out at deserved winners.
After a shaky week with a draw to Montpellier and rumors of a split in the PSG camp, their response has been excellent with beating Bordeaux and Bayern Munich in the Champions League midweek game convincingly. The team seem unbothered by the media, but more importantly and particularly Neymar and Cavani who have performed excellently. Furthermore, new signing Kylian Mbappé caused problems for Bordeaux throughout the match and seems to have adapted to his new club quickly. PSG still has no room for slip-ups, however, as Monaco is still just three points behind on the Ligue 1 table.
Unai Emery will have a number of injuries, including Javier Pastore (calf), Thiago Motta (knee), Marco Verratti (adductor), Julian Draxler (flu) and Layvin Kurzawa (knee).
Dijon vs. Paris SG – MATCH PREDICTION
Looking at these two sides, even if Dijon were in good form, they still wouldn’t have a chance against this Paris SG side. In these current circumstances, they don’t even have the form on their side, while Paris SG is coming off from some strong wins.
Expect a big win for Paris SG, but my safer bet is to go with the over.
MY PICK: Over 3.5 goals (-111)
Caen vs. Angers
3-Way: 1: Caen +165; X: +225 Draw; 2: Angers +220
Spread 0: Caen -125; Angers +119
Total +2: Over -122; Under +121
Caen won 1:0 yet again in their previous Ligue 1 fixture as they dispatched Rennes away from home. The away side dominated the first half with attacker Ivan Santini causing the Rennes defense problems all game. Santini forced a simple save early on with a sign of what was to come with the winning goal. In the 34th minute, Santini controlled the ball with his chest, or arm, and fought his way past a number of defenders in the box and got a shot away, although the shot was well saved but the parry then bounced off of a Rennes defender and in. Caen did well to hold on to their win for the remainder of the game, although a great save to deny them doubling their lead after Herve Bazile drilled a header towards goal.
Their last win extended their great run of form, having now won five of their last six games and pushing all the way to the fifth position in the Ligue 1 table; not bad for a team that finished 17th last season. Ivan Santini has been pivotal in their wins, often carrying attacks on his own, but the defense has been even more impressive since conceding just twice in their last five matches.
Manager Patrice Garande will be without winger Jeff Louis (knee) and defender Alexander Djiku (Achilles) through injury.
A highly-entertaining game in Angers saw the home side come away the happier side after a 3-3 draw. Lyon was on the front-foot by the end of the first half, and looked well on their way to all three points with their three goals. Although, Angers did get an all-important goal in the first half with an own goal meaning that it was 3:1 going into half-time. Despite the goal, things were looking bleak for Angers, although they were given a stroke of luck when a Lyon defender was unfairly sent off for accidentally knocking the yellow card out of the referee’s hand. Angers seized the opportunity and pushed forward for a goal with Karl Toko Ekambi cutting through to make space and shoot into opposite corner to reward their efforts and make it 3:2. Then, Ismael Traore headed in from a corner for the equalizer, leaving his side with over twenty minutes to find the winner.
Unfortunately for Angers, despite a few great opportunities, they couldn’t find the winning goal but will have been content with coming back from a losing position as they did. That being said, Angers will be wondering why they can only seem to manage to draw games rather than finding the killer instinct to win games, having drawn six and won just once this season so far.
Manager Stéphane Moulin will have a full squad selection for his side’s upcoming match.
Caen vs. Angers – MATCH PREDICTION
Caen has been in outstanding form recently and will have the home advantage. That being said, I believe these sides are of similar quality, and with Angers record, I believe that the most likely result is a draw.
MY PICK: DRAW (+225)
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