Soccer France Ligue 1 - 5 March 2023
Paris SG vs Nantes - Match Preview
The Ligue 1 title race could’ve gone either way last weekend when top side PSG met second-place Marseille, but fortunately for the Parisians, their convincing 3-0 win opened up an eight-point gap atop of the table. The victory was a huge pressure reliever for PSG boss Christophe Galtier, who let his emotions get the better of him after that win when he was sensationally held back from a fight with Marseille fans!
With his boxing gloves firmly back in the closet, Galtier now returns home with his side to face mid-table Nantes, although his side can’t rest on their laurels given PSG have lost two of the last four league H2Hs (W2). Nantes was in fact one of a cluster of sides to win at the Parc des Princes early in 2021 when PSG lost three home league games on the bounce, but since that trio of defeats, Gaultier's side are unbeaten in 34 home games (W29, D5).
With just one defeat in five away league games (W2, D2), Nantes may harbour some cautious optimism that they could be the side to end PSG’s remarkable home streak. That run has largely been built on defensive solidity, with all four games in which Nantes avoided defeat being accompanied by a clean sheet, something that has helped them steer clear of the drop zone after a slow start.
The reigning Coupe de France champions took one step closer to defending their crown in midweek after a 2-1 victory against Lens secured their spot in the semi-finals. Boss Antoine Kombouaré admitted in the aftermath his side has the “mindset to keep hold of that trophy”, but with the cup seemingly taking priority in a misfiring season, Kombouaré will know the result here won’t define his side’s campaign.
📋 Players to watch: Currently tied with Edinson Cavani on 200 goals for PSG, Kylian Mbappé can become the club’s outright top-scorer with his tenth career goal against Nantes. Andy Delort opened his Nantes account in midweek, with his two penalty goals ensuring six of his last nine goals have come from the spot.
⚡ Hot stat: Nantes have failed to score a first-half goal in ten of their 13 away league games this term.
Strasbourg vs Brest - Match Preview
The bottom of the Ligue 1 table couldn’t be much tighter, with the 15th and 19th separated by just three points coming into the round. Strasbourg find themselves in the midst of that cluster of sides vying to avoid the extended drop-zone, and with two wins from their last four league games (D1, L1), they have given themselves a fighting chance of living to fight another day.
Another relegation-threatened side is next up for Strasbourg, with Brest making the long trip east for what has the feel of a proverbial relegation ‘six-pointer’. A five-match unbeaten H2H run (W3, D2) should fuel the belief that Le Racing can pull further clear of the drop zone, while the prospect of winning three straight home Ligue 1 games for the first time since late 2019 may also incentivise them further.
Brest find themselves in serious relegation trouble, and on the back of a five-game winless league run (D2, L3), are likely wondering where their next victory is coming from. A 2-1 defeat against Lille last time out bookends that run, and after Lille boss Paulo Fonseca voiced his displeasure at Brest’s “excessive time-wasting”, justice was perhaps eventually served as Brest squandered a 1-0 lead in a league game for the seventh time this season (D4, L3).
That accounts for an eye-watering 17 points dropped after scoring first this season, which has proved costly as Brest would be sitting comfortably in mid-table if they hadn’t dropped them. It’s a clear area of improvement for Eric Roy’s side, but considering their record when falling behind in Ligue 1 this term is even worse (D1, L10), it’s an issue Brest will likely have to face head-on if they’re to claim three huge points in their battle to beat the drop.
📋 Players to watch: It would perhaps be unfair to suggest Strasbourg’s hopes of a goal rest on the shoulders of one man, but considering Habib Diallo has scored their last five league goals, that may, in this case, be true. All five of those goals arrived in the first half, but Brest’s Jérémy Le Douaron prefers to score in the second half, with three of his last four strikes arriving after the break.
⚡ Hot stat: Strasbourg has scored 60% of their league goals this season in the first half, the highest portion of any Ligue 1 side.
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