Ligue 1 2012, Week 22 Preview And Fixtures: Marseille-Lyon Is The Perfect Cap To A Huge Weekend In France

Didier Deschamps coach of Marseille smiles during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Marseille and Manchester United. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The rest of the important action takes place at the crowded lower end of the table, with Dijon-Valenciennes, Caen-Auxerre and Ajaccio-Nice all facing off in games that could drastically change the face of the relegation battle.

St. Etienne vs. Lorient

Saturday February 4th
15:00 CET/9:00 AM ET

In a combined 42 games, these teams have scored 45 goals and allowed 48 between them. That's 1.07 goals for per game, 1.14 goals against per game. But yeah, you should get up earlier than you do for work to watch this. Totally.

Pick: St. Etienne, 1-0

Dijon vs. Valenciennes

Saturday February 4th
15:00 CET/9:00 AM ET

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via hotdoghalloweencostume.net

(Yes, I know Dijon's kits are red. Shut up.)

Nancy vs. Rennes

Saturday February 4th
15:00 CET/9:00 AM ET

Rennes persist in hanging around the top of the table, but with Marseille now ahead of them the odds of a European tour seem unlikely. Shame too, because Rennes is a fun team that could probably make a run at Europa or take an unsuspecting team or two by surprise and eke their way into the Champions League knockout stages. The positive there is that no one will be deprived of whatever garish abomination of a third kit Marseille and Lyon decide to run with next season.

Pick: Rennes, 3-1

Ajaccio vs. Nice

Saturday February 4th
19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Pass

Pick: Draw, 0-0

Montpellier vs. Brest

Saturday February 4th
19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

My crush on Montpellier isn't exactly a secret, nor is my disdain for clubs like Brest who play boring, negative football and play into negative stereotypes about a league that's actually quite entertaining overall. In a just world, Montpellier would lay a thorough whipping down in this game. Of course, in a just world Montpellier would still be at the top of the league and Antoine Kombouaré would still have a job.

Pick: Montpellier, 3-0

PSG vs. Evian

Saturday February 4th
19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

As good as PSG is, there's generally little point in watching their games (unless you're a Javier Pastore fetishist, which is completely understandable.) They've got plenty of excellent players, but they still beat every team the same exact, clinical way and nine times out of ten they don't get out of second gear in doing it. The only compelling thing about them is how easy they are not to like.

Pick: PSG, 2-0

Bordeaux vs. Toulouse

Saturday February 4th
21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

The thing about this game is that...

...

...

...

...

...

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...oh I'm sorry I appear to have fallen asleep.

Pick: Draw, 0-0

Caen vs. Auxerre

Sunday February 5th
17:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

If you read this matchup backwards it sounds like a redneck affirming his ability to complete a task. (Assuming your French pronunciation is terrible.)

Pick: Caen, 2-1

Sochaux vs. Lille

Sunday February 5th
17:00 CET/11:00 AM ET

Lille's hold on a Champions League place feel quite tenuous, so they'll be quite happy to see Sochaux on the calendar this weekend. There's really nothing else to add; Sochaux is just a really bad team and if Lille can't pick up three points against teams this poor they're not going to be going to Europe at all.

Pick: Lille, 3-1

Marseille vs. Lyon

Sunday February 5th
21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

It's been a long road back from a pretty disastrous start from L'OM, but if there is still any remaining doubt that this isn't one of the two best teams in France Marseille can kill it off this weekend. This is clearly a huge game for Lyon as well given the tightly packed top 6, but for Marseille a win would put an exclamation point on an absolutely tremendous run of form. If you're a fan of big, important matches between established powers, this makes a nice double-header with the earlier Chelsea-Manchester United game.

Pick: Marseille, 3-1

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