Ligue 1 Preview, Mid-Week 34: Lille Look To Take Total Command In Title Race

It's a busy, busy week in Ligue 1. After a full slate on the weekend and another seven games on Sunday, all eyes will be on Lille and Marseille as the season enters the home stretch.

Tuesday

PSG vs. Nancy

Time: 21:00 CET/3:00 PM EDT

PSG's Champions League hopes to a rather massive hit with Lyon's victory over Marseille this past weekend, but they're clearly still in things. Nancy meanwhile are in a dreadful stretch; when a 0-0 draw at home against Arles is the best result you've had in a month, things aren't going especially well. With just four games left to escape the drop a team still fighting for a spot in the more prestigious of the two European competitions is not the type of side you look forward to traveling to meet. But it's a funny old game, as they say, and there's every reason to believe that Nancy could make a game of this one and-dare I say it-shock the world with a massive, season-saving upset.

Just kidding. There is quite literally no reason at all to think that.

Pick: PSG, 4-1

St. Etienne vs. Lille

Time: 21:00 CET/3:00 PM EDT

Lille haven't won a Ligue 1 title since the 1954-55 season, a year in which they also took home the Coupe de France. They'll have the opportunity to complete one half of the double this coming weekend when they meet PSG in the Coupe de France final, and while they can't wrap up the league this weekend they can take a huge step in the right direction. St. Etienne are really very much the picture of an average Ligue 1 side, not especially strong in attack and reliant on a solid defense in order to grind out results. In short, they're the kind of team that really stands no chance against Lille.

Pick: Lille, 2-0

Wednesday

AJ Auxerre vs. Lyon

Time: 19:00 CET/1:00 PM EDT

Lyon brought their name back into title discussion with a massive win over Marseille over the weekend, but unfortunately their name is generally followed by the words "are playing much better but still have no real shot at the title." They're still in excellent shape for the final Champions League spot, which seems fairly incredible considering their start to the season. Auxerre, meanwhile, are the football equivalent of. Toast is good, perfectly serviceable food. It's never ruined an otherwise good breakfast. Sometimes when you're eating it you'll remark to yourself that the toast is quite enjoyable. But it's not very often that you hear someone say "Man, you know what would be really good right now? Some toast."

Pick: Lyon, 2-1

Lens vs. Bordeaux

Time: 19:00 CET/1:00 PM EDT

Lens could theoretically catch Nice and pull of a great escape kind of scenario, but they'll need to get things going with a big win this week.

Luckily for them, Bordeaux! If Bordeaux's team bus showed up to the stadium on fire with arrows sticking out of the side, would anyone be surprised?

Pick: Lens, 3-2

Montpellier vs. Lorient

Time: 19:00 CET/1:00 PM EDT

Is it just me or is Lorient only good when they're trying to crush another team's hope?

Pick: Montpellier, 2-1

Nice vs. Arles

Time: 19:00 CET/1:00 PM EDT

If Arles hope win another game this season, this is one of their better chances.

Pick: Nice, 5-0

Sochaux vs. AS Monaco

Time: 19:00 CET/1:00 PM EDT

Sochaux still have an outside shot at the Europa League, which is kind of like having an outside shot at a job at a grocery store the summer before your senior year in high school so that instead of drinking beer down by the river and making out with babes in your friend's basement you're learning how many boxes of mac and cheese can fit in a bag with eggs in the bottom so that you can build a mac and cheese fort around the eggs.

I mean yeah, the money is nice and there's the whole experience thing but, you know, beer and making out.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Stade Rennes vs. Caen

Time: 19:00 CET/1:00 PM EDT

Caen's defense is shockingly bad, but because they score a reasonable people admire them to a certain extent; yes, they allow goals, but they go after results. They're not going to sit back and play negative and actually risk being good, because that''s not the way you play or somesuch. People cluck their tongues at Stade Rennes because they do the opposite. Stade Rennes are battling for Europe while Caen are fighting for their lives. Sports are weird and kind of dumb.

(With that said, oh my god Stade Rennes, score some goals. Good heavens.)

Pick: Stade Rennes, 1-0

Toulouse vs. Valenciennes

Time: 19:00 CET/1:00 PM EDT

In the 'Games neutrals could possibly care about' draft, this match is Mr. Irrelevant.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Marseille vs. Brest

Time: 21:00 CET/3:00 PM EDT

If Lille wins (as should probably be expected) and Marseille drop points to Brest, OM's title hopes are probably over. And while Brest aren't the caliber of team Marseille should be dropping points to, there's pretty clearly something not quite right with the club at the moment and while their fightback against Lyon showed that the fight is clearly still there, they could be ripe for a shocker. On the other hand, Brest is kind of bad.

Pick: Marseille, 3-1

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