French Ligue 1 2011, Week 13 Preview And Fixtures: Rotating Pastore

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 23: Javier Pastore of Argentina's national football team looks to pass during a team training session on June 23, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

PSG looks to break away from the pack, Marseille looks to rejoin the pack after wandering off and getting lost in the woods for a few weeks and Montpellier hope to continue being the only good thing left in the entire world.

24 games to go and someone is still within three points of PSG. Maybe Santa Claus isn't dead after all.

Saturday November 5th

Lille vs. Evian TG

19:00 CET/4:00 PM ET

Evian has got to be the weirdest team in Ligue 1 in terms of results. They're objectively bad (or at least objectively not very good) and should really by all rights be struggling mightily, but though it's still early they aren't in terrible shape and have picked up a few very impressive results. Lille has had a pretty terrible go of things in the Champions League and had a few head-scratchers in league play, but there seems to be a general feeling that their overall level of play has fallen off significantly and their domestic season has been a major disappointment so far. I've insinuated that myself. Really though, it's just not true. Despite losing some key players they're still in an excellent position to make a return to the Champions League and though winning the league seems a bit of a long shot PSG has kind of changed the game. Maybe everyone is just practicing for when Eden Hazard leaves.

Pick: Lille, 3-1

Sunday November 6th

AJ Auxerre vs. Toulouse

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Toulouse having as much success playing the way they do is almost physically painful.  Yes, results are what matter and building an excellent defense is more cost effective than investing in attacking players. It's a good way to build a team as success leads to more money which makes adding the more expensive pieces possible. I get all of that.

But ughhhhhhhh.

Pick: Draw, 0-0

Nancy vs. Brest

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Nancy is so bad. It's kind of amazing, really. Their defense is best described as mediocre while their attack is best described as "oh god why". It should surprise no one that they are scoring 0.666 goals a game because watching them is what football in hell is like.

Pick: Brest, 2-0

Caen vs. Dijon

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Does Dijon actually employ defenders? Are there actual people that receive what I am assuming would be fairly sizable paychecks whose job description is basically "prevent the other team from scoring goals"? Because if so, I think we may need to Occupy Dijon.

Pick: Caen, 3-1

Lorient vs. AC Ajaccio

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Lorient are wonderful in many ways, but they are more than a little bit boring a lot of the time. Luckily, they'll be playing a team that allows more than two goals per game. Against Ajaccio, every coach is Pep and every winger Ronaldo. They are the video games of Ligue 1.

Pick: Lorient, 4-1

Marseille vs. Nice

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

It would appear as though Marseille are not in fact terrible, which is really annoying in so many ways. It's not that I have anything in particular against Marseille, it's just that any time a big club with a lot of fans goes through a rough patch the fallout is absolutely hilarious. Is that petty and mean? Yes, of course. But it's still true.

Pick: Marseille, 3-1

Sochaux vs. Lyon

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Sochaux are the perfect team for neutrals to watch. They score a lot, they concede a lot and they're totally unpredictable. Being a fan of a team like that is awful but for the rest of us it's great to have them around. As for Lyon, are they the most anonymous big club in world football? I quite often completely forget they exist until looking at the table. They're fun to watch and quite good but I just never think of them. It's probably just me. Usually is.

Pick: Lyon, 2-1

St. Etienne vs. Montpellier

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Every single game that Montpellier plays is automatically the best Ligue 1 game of the weekend.

Pick: Montpellier, 3-0

Stade Rennes vs. Valenciennes

15:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Rennes should have little trouble with Valenciennes; they've got a potent attack that should be able to break through against an above-average Valenciennes back line and a strong enough defense to deal with a less than threatening Valenciennes attack. But here's the thing; despite being in the drop zone, Valenciennes have worked some good results against high-quality sides. 0-0 against Lille, 1-1 against Marseille and even a 2-1 loss at PSG are all far better than you'd expect, while most of their bad losses have come against bad teams. That's almost certainly meaningless, but whatever. Narratives are fun.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Bordeaux vs. PSG

19:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Javier Pastore playing in Ligue 1 is one of the most ridiculous things on earth. It's not fair PSG gets to keep him; he should just rotate teams every week. Who wouldn't want to see Pastore playing for Evian? That would be amazing!

Pick: PSG, 3-1

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