Ligue 1 2011, Week 14 Preview: Marseille vs. PSG The Highlight Of The Weekend For Some Reason

Olympique de Marseille Manager Didier Deschamps gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal FC v Olympique de Marseille at Emirates Stadium in London, England. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Marseille and PSG face off in the weekend's biggest game featuring two clubs no one likes on any level other than the aesthetic, one of which is not very good. But luckily, there are actual good games!

Saturday November 26th

Nancy vs. Dijon

17:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

So far this season I've spent a great deal of time insulting Nancy, both directly and through inference. Last week I claimed that Javier Pastore would beat them 8-0 single-handedly. So of course Nancy went into the Parc des Princes and emerged with an unlikely 1-0 victory. PSG wasn't at their best on the day but they were also horribly unlucky, somehow managing to miss the goal completely despite taking 27 shots and maintaining 70% of the possession. Still, fair play to Nancy; they went to Paris, did what they had to do, picked up a huge three points and made me look like an idiot. They're still pretty bad though.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Bordeaux vs. Caen

17:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Caen: top half, well-balanced, within shouting distance of Europe. Bordeaux: relegation zone, no attack of which to speak, still winless at home. Bizarro world is a strange place.

Pick: Caen, 2-0

Sochaux vs. Montpellier

17:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

If you're a fan of football (and it seems reasonable to think that you are) that is not a fan of the dominance of the big European leagues by massive clubs that outspend everyone and make things completely predictable, there aren't many good stories out there right now. Montpellier is one of them. Just over two-thirds of the way through the year, they're even on points with newly-moneyed PSG at the top of the table, just a goal behind the top spot. They play exciting, attacking football without having forgotten how to defend and most everything about them is completely likable. Everyone keeps waiting for them to fall off the pace, but they just keep scoring and winning. Realistically, PSG will almost certainly take an iron grip of Ligue 1; if not this year, then soon enough. But for now, Montpellier are playing spoiler and it's just fantastic.

Pick: Montpellier, 3-1

St. Etienne vs. Ajaccio

17:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

St. Etienne is more cynical than a 27-year-old with a Masters degree in English Literature working 25-hours-per-week at Half Price Books and choosing to ignore their use whisky to self-medicate  their worsening cough rather than paying the $1,500 ER bill and getting it checked out. But results and so forth.

Pick: St. Etienne, 1-0

Rennes vs. Evian TG

17:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Rennes are a bit of an under-the-radar version of Montpellier; they've been a pretty good team for a while,  quite good fairly recently and they're not making near as big an impression with their current season, but they're far from a traditional power and their brand of pragmatic but attacking football is a nice change of pace from the style employed by many other Ligue 1 sides. Evian is also neat, for completely different reasons. This is an "I wish they could both win :(" sort of game. They can't though, because they aren't eight years old. (Okay, yes, technically Evian is eight years old but that isn't in the spirit of what I was saying and you know it.)

Pick: Rennes, 3-1

Toulouse vs. Valenciennes

17:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

People will pay actual money to watch this game. People will break numerous domestic and international laws to illegally watch this game for free. Somewhere in Southern France, thousands of people are going to go to bed tonight excited to pay money to go drinking and then watch this live." Sports are so incredibly weird.

Pick: Draw, 0-0

Lille vs. Brest

19:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Given Lille's recent domestic struggles and difficult go of things in the Champions League, facing Brest may seem like just what the doctor ordered. That doesn't make a lot of sense though, because while most doctors would encourage regular exercise that doesn't seem like an issue for professional footballers and more commonly you'd expect a team physician to prescribe painkillers, allergy medication or the RICE method.

Pick: Lille, 2-0

Sunday November 27th

AJ Auxerre vs. Lyon

14:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Lyon seems decidedly, well not mediocre exactly, but certainly mediocre given their typical standards. It fits a comfortable narrative to point out that their slip from league dominance came around the same time they abandoned some of the highly-publicized methods that got them to their lofty heights in the first place, and while there may well be a smidgen of  truth to that in reality it's far more likely one of those cyclical things that tend to be more evident in competitive leagues and Lyon are a good team in a bad stretch in a young season that started well. So there's that whole narrative thing again. Auxerre, on the other hand, are genuinely mediocre. But they're also unlucky, if you put stock in performance over results as a means of analysis (which you should.) In other words, I have nothing insightful to say about this game.

Pick: Lyon, 2-1

Lorient vs. Nice

14:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Despite being lovable, Lorient is just kind of boring. Nice is bad at everything. This game hasn't even started yet and it's already bumming me out.

Pick: Lorient, 2-0

Marseille vs. PSG

21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Massive game! Big clubs! Top of the table! Europe! New money! Proud history!

Oh, right. Marseille is bad.


Pick: PSG, 3-1

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