Are Nice the Real Deal in Ligue 1?

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Ligue 1 Preview: PSG's auditions, Lille and Lyon in crisis corner and a Nice v Marseille demolition derby

 

Who will be the Club Med Kings?

Ligue 1 has gotten off to a fantastic, French flyer with 60 goals being scored in just two rounds. That's an average of three goals a game, don't cha know. 

Nine of those have been scored by the two teams facing off on Sunday in the undisputed match of the week in Ligue 1 - Nice vs. Marseille. First off, it's rivalry night on the Mediterranean. Secondly, it's an early clash between two teams with hugely ambitious projects. Reboot vs. Reboot: The battle to be the main rivals to PSG's expected supremacy this season. 

Nice recruited Lille's title-winning coach, Christophe Galtier, who has already installed a watertight defense with a top-class goalscorer in Kasper Dolberg. The 4-0 hammering of Lille last weekend was a statement game of great things to come from Nice. 

A completely revamped Marseille are absolutely madcap this season under Jorge Sampaoli with five goals scored and four conceded. USMNT star, Konrad de la Fuente, is inspiring a gung-ho attacking approach to Marseille's game, but how effective it will be long term is another matter. A 2-0 lead was lost against Bordeaux last weekend in a 2-2 draw, while a comeback from 2-0 down was needed in matchday 1 to win 3-2 against Montpellier. 

The round's standout sizzler is all bangers and no clangers. 

Nice vs. Marseille - live on beIN SPORTS on Sunday from 2:30PM ET / 11:30AM PT. 

PSG continue audition process

While Mauricio Pochettino begins the process of integrating new and returning players into the squad - hello Messi, Neymar, di Maria, VerrattiMarquinhos, Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos - the match against Brest could be the last chance to make life very difficult for Poch on how to place his pieces. At the time of writing, the squad for Friday's game has not been released.

There may be fewer decisions to be made in defense which has been shaky in the two games against Troyes and Strasbourg with three goals conceded against sides in the bottom two places in the relegation zone. 

Upfront? If such a thing is possible, it's a pleasant headache for Mauricio Pochettino. Mauro Icardi is expected to make way for Messi but the Argentinean striker has scored two in two in Ligue 1, almost a third of his entire total last season.

Meanwhile, Julian Draxler has been in sterling form in place of Neymar with attack-stopping tackles, defense-splitting balls and a goal to boot. 

Pleasant problems to have. 

Brest vs. PSG - live on beIN SPORTS on Friday from 2:30 PM ET / 11:30 AM PT. 

 

Crisis-hit Lyon face best team in Ligue 1 history 

The season hasn't exactly gone to plan Lyon.

Despite losing Memphis Depay to Barcelona, there was more than enough talent in the team for new coach, Peter Bosz, to work with and get the campaign off to a flyer. Instead, Lyon have picked up just one point from six and earned a front cover this week from L'Equipe breathlessly declaring a 'Psycho-Drama' at the club.

Everything came apart at the seams in Sunday's disastrous 3-0 loss to Angers which produced a bad-tempered red card for Maxwel Cornet and a sorry own goal from Brazilian defender, Marcelo. The player then kicked off in the locker room to see Marcelo demoted to the reserves for "inappropriate conduct."  Bosz is set to start sweeping out the bad seeds of Lyon, possibly with Houssem Aouar on that hit list as well.

 

Lyon are back at home on Sunday and facing the most successful team in the history of Ligue 1. In fact, it's a side that has won every single Ligue 1 game it has ever played. Granted, that's only two matches, but let's not take anything away from newly-promoted Clermont Foot which has gotten its debut top-flight season off to a flyer, boosted by three goals from Guinean rising star, Mohamed Bayo. 

Lyon vs. Clermont Foot - live on beIN SPORTS on Sunday from 6:50AM ET / 3:50AM PT. 

 

Timothy Weah - A Lille light at the end of the tunnel 

On the positive side for USMNT fans, the new campaign for Timothy Weah has been a bright one with 95 minutes of action across two league games including a start against Nice. 

On the negative side for Lille fans, the reigning Ligue 1 champions are in the relegation zone with just one point from six. Last Saturday was a traumatic affair with Lille fans back in the stands seeing their team hammered 4-0 by a Nice side that had former boss, Christophe Galtier, in charge.

While a repeat Ligue 1 win for Lille was realistically not on the cards, a top-four season was expected, especially after the Trophee des Champions victory over PSG. 

Instead, Lille have now conceded seven goals under the stewardship of new coach, Jocelyn Gourvennec, the same number let in during the final 12 Ligue 1 games under Galtier. 

For club captain, Jose Fonte, the challenge for Lille is moving on from the title win last season, and quickly - "what happened last year – it’s over now, we have to concentrate on the new season. We have to write a new story, forget the celebrations and concentrate on the work we have to do."

Saint Etienne vs. Lille - live on beIN SPORTS on Saturday at 2:50PM ET / 11:50PM PT. 

 


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