by SCOTT TAYLOR
Paris Saint-Germain eased any concerns about a ‘crisis’ at the club with a less than convincing 3-1 win at Ludogorets, but return to league action on Saturday when they host Bordeaux.
Edinson Cavani will look to answer his critics after receiving an indifferent reception since replacing Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the club’s main striker in the summer.
However, after Alphonse Areola’s penalty save turned the tide in midweek, and Unai Emery’s side will have to be on their best form in this potential banana skin at the Parc de Princes, as they look to close the four-point gap on leaders Nice.
Before that, Rennes host Guingamp in the first Breton derby of the season, with the fixture officially being unveiled as ‘El Costico’ before the two sides face off on Friday evening.
Both sides go into the game at the Stade de la Route-de-Lorient having lost twice in the last three games, with the Rennes having beat their rivals just once in the previous six home games.
Another derby taking place this weekend is the Samba derby between Olympique Lyonnais and Saint-Etienne at the Parc OL. Christophe Galtier’s side had just ten fit outfield players last week and rested goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier in the Europa League yesterday.
Galtier confirmed after last night’s 1-1 draw with Anderlecht in the Europa League that he will use the club’s younger players on Sunday.
The hosts have also suffered from recent injury problems of their own, but are starting to see their full squad come together, with Nabil Fekir and Maxime Gonalons returning to the starting line-up.
The fixture has already seen its pre-game mind games, with Saint-Etienne blaming Lyon for limiting their away support to just 771, with the hosts claiming that the government confirmed the figure.
Elsewhere, Nice are the only unbeaten team left in Ligue 1 after seven matches, and Lucien Favre’s men will look to continue that run when they host Lorient, who moved off the bottom of the table last week.
Mario Balotelli scored his fifth goal in four games since joining from Liverpool in last night’s 5-2 defeat at Krasnador, but the striker is doubtful after suffering from a fever, but will they miss him?
Monaco will look to pounce on any potential slip-ups by Nice, but Leonardo Jardim’s side face a tricky visit to FC Metz, with the in-form striker Mevlut Erdinc having scored six goals in his last seven games.
The visitors, who sit in second, may have Radamel Falcao back from concussion after he sat out the 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, but his side will have Kamil Glik in their ranks.
The centre-back has been in fine form since joining from Torino in the summer, and has been involved in every Monaco goal in the previous two matches.
Third-placed Toulouse are the surprise package so far this season, and they can go top if results go their way and they beat Caen when the two sides meet on Saturday.
However, coach Pascal Dupraz has warned that his side have yet to fulfil their potential, despite his players experiencing a positivity that he has never before seen at Toulouse.
They will head into the tie at the Stade Michel d’Ornano full of confidence after beating the Champions PSG 2-0, whilst missing top scorer Martin Braithwaite.
Lille are bottom of Ligue 1 for the first time since November 1995, with manager Frederic Antonetti under pressure.
They will be looking to end a run of four straight defeat when they face Nancy in a bottom of the table clash at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Saturday evening.
Another manager under pressure is Marseille’s interim manager Franck Passi, despite his side beating Nantes 2-1 last week.
Marseille are in talks with potential new owners, and they’ll be hoping that this investment will bring a change of results.
Bafetimbi Gomis goes into the game on a rich vein of form, having scored five goals in his last seven matches and will no doubt cause Nancy problems on Sunday.
However, before last weekend’s defeat at Monaco, Angers had won three games on the bounce, and can be a tricky opponent.
Elsewhere on Saturday night, Dijon host Montpellier and Bastia make the trip to Nantes.