French Ligue 1 2011, Week 6 Preview And Schedule: In Which I Rant At Length About The Underutilization Of Purple

Michel Bastos of Olympique Lyonnais controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League group D match between AFC Ajax and Olympique Lyonnais. Lyon takes on Marseille this weekend. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

After a strong showing in the mid-week European competitions Ligue 1's power teams are back in action, but a few upstarts look determined to parlay their strong starts into sustained top-table relevance.

Saturday September 17th

AJ Auxerre vs. Caen

17:00 CET/1:00 PM EST

The thing that's a bummer about the early is season is that you can be humming along pretty well, not really blowing anyone away but scoring goals, playing nice football and garnering mostly positive reviews. And then you go and draw 0-0 to Nancy. But on the plus side, at least you're not Caen.

Pick: Auxerre, 2-0

Brest vs. Montpellier

17:00 CET/1:00 PM EST

Montpellier continues to impress with a far from embarrassing loss away to Lyon the only mark against them on the season. The defense is still quite impressive having allowed the fewest goals of any team in Ligue 1 but the attack appears to have been completely reborn; this is a Montpellier team that scored just 32 goals all of last season and already this year they've notched 10. While all of the caveats about small sample size certainly still apply, that level of transformation is astonishing. Luckily for the human need for continuity, Brest is still awful and boring.

Pick: Montpellier, 2-0

Lorient vs. St. Étienne

17:00 CET/1:00 PM EST

Lorient is another surprising team so far in the young season; despite having arguably the greatest loss of on-paper talent in all of Ligue 1 over the summer they've played quite well, a somewhat perplexing early season loss to Dijon notwithstanding. St. Étienne has been almost exactly the same team so far this season, but because they don't wear orange it's not as interesting.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Nice vs. AC Ajaccio

17:00 CET/1:00 PM EST

Ajaccio are a fun underdog team from a stunningly beautiful place with a fantastic crest and sharp looking kits. Nice is terrible.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Toulouse vs. Bordeaux

17:00 CET/1:00 PM EST

Toulouse as a club is a pretty great story. They weathered some pretty dire financial storms and were at one point threatened with the loss of their professional status, only to get their house in order, return to Ligue 1 rather quickly. In no time at all, they were okaying Champions League football and though they haven't been able to quite reach that level since their triumphant 2006-07 season they're quite a respectable, well run club that's unlikely to fall too far below the middle of the table any time soon. That said, I've got a bone to pick with you Toulouse; how can your club count purple as its main color yet at the same time have three kits, none of which is solid purple? It's such a fantastic color. If I were in charge the players would all go through a spray tanner filled with violet tempra paint before every game.

Pick: Toulouse, 2-1

Valenciennes vs. Dijon

17:00 CET/1:00 PM EST

Valenciennes has a story of death and rebirth that's perhaps even more inspiring than Toulouse, but their kits are red. BORING. They've also gotten off to a pretty appalling start but they did the same thing last season and ended up okay. It's just kinda what they do, until it's not any more and then all the people like me that insist they'll figure it out eventually sure will look like idiots. Dijon sure does seem like the kind of team that scores more than one goal per game, but according to these numbers I am currently looking at they're averaging exactly that. Still, I don't believe it. Lies, damned lies and statistics you know. Fairly certain they've been good for at least three a night each time out.

Pick: Valenciennes, 1-0

Lille vs. Sochaux

19:00 CET/3:00 PM EST

Since Joe Cole showed up, Lille have won every game. Except against CSKA Moscow, but that's Champions League;doesn't count. Nope, just talking about the domestic league here. And in those games, they're outscoring the opposition by a margin of 3-1. Quite impressive. I knew he still had it in him.

Pick: Lille, 3-1

Sunday September 18th

Évian TG vs. PSG

15:00 CET/1:00 AM EST

Évian has been quite "good" this season. I mean, they've just lost the one game, and that's not so bad (even if it was to Dijon) considering they've played some pretty respectable teams. Still, there's just no way you're going to stay up averaging 0.8 goals per game and...(looks at last year's table)...oh. Eeewwwwwww.

Meanwhile, PSG seems to have noticed we were all laughing at them. Whoops.

Pick: PSG, 3-0

Stade Rennes vs. Nancy

15:00 CET/11:00 AM EST

Stades Rennes has a pretty nice attack and a hilarious defense. Nancy has a hilarious attack and a mediocre defense. No matter what, this should be funnier than hell.

Pick: Stade Rennes, 2-0

Lyon vs. Marseille

19:00 CET/3:00 PM EST

Lyon is now the only unbeaten left in Ligue 1, and they've looked pretty convincing these first five games. It's early yet and all, but it's always struck me as funny when people talk about Lyon as though their much-hyped downfall actually came to fruition. Last season clearly wasn't their best, but they re-grouped, ended up in the Champions League and look to have shaken off their struggles.

As far as Marseille, THEY'RE DOOOOOOOOOOOMED!!!

Pick: Lyon, 2-1

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