Ligue 1 Preview: Can Nancy stop Mario Balotelli and table-topping Nice?

taylor by SCOTT TAYLOR

It’s not often that Paris Saint-Germain aren’t at the top of the Ligue 1 table, but after six round of matches, Unai Emery’s sde find themselves playing catch up.

Despite scoring nine goals in their last two outings, the Champions are one point off top spot, a position currently occupied by Nice, led by the in-form Mario Balotelli.

The Italian outcast has scored four goals in two games for his new side and will look to add to his tally when Lucien Favre’s side travel to Nancy on Sunday, fresh from their 4-0 thrashing of previously unbeaten Monaco.

However, Nice could have dropped to fourth in Ligue 1 by the time they travel to the Stade Marcel Picot with PSG, Monaco and Bordeaux all playing.

Despite this, Nice have been turning heads in France this season not just due to the arrival of Balotelli, as they are the only unbeaten team in Ligue 1.

PSG will look for their third straight victory when they travel to fifth-placed Toulouse but come up against a side that has only lost once so far this season.

Hatem Ben Arfa has been left out of the matchday squad for the fourth straight game, but are boosted with the return to form for Edison Cavani, with El Matador now joining Alexandre Lacazette as the league’s top scorers.

cavani
Edinson Cavani netted four times against Caen last weekend. (Image Credit: espnfc.com)

An interesting battle with develop when Cavani lines up against Toulouse defender Issa Diop, with the 19-year-old being labelled as one of the best young central defenders in Europe.

Elsewhere, Monaco will be looking to bounce back from that heavy defeat against Nice when they host in-form Angers.

Stephane Moulin’s side lost their first three games of the season, but after wins against Dijon, Bordeaux and Caen, they will head to the principality full of confidence.

Monaco are without Radamel Falcao after the striker suffered concussion in the defeat at Nice, and Leonardo Jardim has ordered other players to step up in his absence.

Lille have made their worst start to a Ligue 1 season in over seven years, and Frederic Antonetti is a man under pressure with his side sitting in the relegation zone with just one win all season.

They travel to tenth-placed Saint Etienne, a team unbeaten in five games and a side that has conceded just one goal in four games, but they had to make three enforced changes in midweek.

Their defensive solidity has come from Stephane Ruffier, with the goalkeeper’s recent performances, including a penalty save against Nantes, being praised by manager Christophe Galtier.

Another manager who desperately needs a victory is Marseille’s Franck Passi. Les Olympiens have won just once so far this season, but will take solace from their unbeaten home record.

passi
Marseille manager Franck Passi needs a win to keep fans off his back. (Image Credit: alchetron.com)

They face fellow struggler Nantes in a 15th vs 16th clash at the Stade Velodrome, and the interim manager will be hoping Bafetembi Gomis can continue his recent form which has seen him score four goals in six matches.

Other games in Ligue 1 see an injury-hit Lyon travel to bottom side Lorient, with Nabil Fekir set to make his first away appearance in over a year following a cruciate knee injury.

Guingamp are one of five teams to have tasted defeat once this season, and Antoine Kombouare’s side travel to Bastia, and it will be interesting to see whether the pitch at the Stade Armand-Cesari has improved after the goalless draw with Nancy in the week.

The home side’s Petrignani stand will be closed for the tie and Bastia have been fined €20,000 after their fans threw a missile at PSG forward Lucas Moura in August.

Elsewhere, Bordeaux will look to climb into the top three when they host Caen whilst Dijon can climb out of the relegation zone with a win at home to Rennes.

Finally, Montpellier host newly-promoted Metz but will be without Morgan Poaty, who was sent off just seven minutes into his Ligue 1 debut in the 5-1 defeat at Lyon.

Ligue 1 Fixtures 23rd-25th September:

Toulouse vs Paris Saint-Germain

Lorient vs Lyon

Bastia vs Guingamp

Bordeaux vs Caen

Dijon vs Rennes

Monaco vs Angers

Montpellier vs Metz

Saint-Etienne vs Lille

Nancy vs Nice

Marseille vs Nantes

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