Top flight giants Monaco and Marseille look set to entertain on the south coast of France this weekend, writes James Eastham...
Lille to get back to winning ways
Lille vs Metz (5th vs 19th) Saturday, 19:00 GMT Live on BT Sport Extra 2 and Betfair Live Video
It's difficult to know what state of mind the Metz players will be in after the off-pitch incident that has marred their build-up to this game and put footballing matters into perspective.
Last weekend the Metz left-back Manuel Cabit was left with serious injuries following a car crash in which his team-mates Kevin N'Doram was the driver. Cabit's injuries are not life-threatening but football will be the last thing on the minds of many of the Metz players that will take to the pitch this weekend.
It says something about the high standards that Lille have set over the past 12 months that the consecutive defeats they have suffered from their last two outings constitutes a marked dip in form even though they faced high-calibre opposition: Christophe Galtier's players lost 2-1 at Marseille last weekend before a second-half collapse saw them slip to a 4-1 defeat at Valencia in the Champions League in midweek.
Les Nordistes remain high in the table (5th) but the Ligue 1 table is so tight they are actually only three points above the bottom three, an indication of how quickly things can change. With good team news and the depth to rotate in certain important positions, however, Galtier ought to steer his side back to winning ways this weekend.
Lille are 1.60 to claim victory. Backing the hosts at bigger odds is possible via the Asian Handicap market: by supporting Lille -1, you'll get your stakes back if Lille win by a single goal and make a profit if Lille win by two or more goals. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.
Slimani back to make crucial difference
Monaco vs Dijon (15th vs 16th) Saturday, 19:00 GMT Live on Betfair Live Video
Dijon pulled off one of the shocks of the season last Friday when they beat PSG 2-1. They were magnificent on the night but it would be a major surprise if they were able to produce a repeat performance this weekend.
France youth international Mounir Chouiar and Venezuela striker Jhonder Cadiz netted the vital goals as Dijon claimed their sensation win. While the workrate of Stephane Jobard's players all over the pitch could not be faulted, however, Dijon rode their luck: PSG hit the frame of the goal twice and might easily have won by a couple of goals.
Many of Dijon's players are inexperienced at this level and lack the maturity to raise their game against superior opposition for a second consecutive week. Monaco have established internationals all over the pitch, and will be hungry to claim all three points after their narrow 1-0 defeat to a resurgent St Etienne last weekend.
The return from injury of Monaco striker Islam Slimani could be crucial. He and Wissam Ben Yedder have struck up a superb partnership this season, and Ben Yedder was less effective without the Algeria international alongside him last weekend. With the pair working in tandem once again, Monaco have the attacking potential to win by a couple of goals.
Goals on cards in Sunday night showdown
Marseille vs Lyon (4th vs 10th) Sunday, 20:00 GMT Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video
"Finally, some character" read sport daily L'Equipe's headline after Marseille's 2-1 win over higher-ranked Lille last weekend. It was arguably Marseille's best performance of the season and suggested the team are finally capable of putting together a run of good results under manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Marseille have played well in patches this season but the convincing nature of their victory over last season's Ligue 1's runners-up ought to embolden the players. Now the question is: can Marseille produce a second consecutive polished performance as Lyon prepare to arrive on Sunday night?
All eyes will be on Rudi Garcia, Marseille manager until last May, whose appointment as the new Lyon manager last month provoked angry reactions among the contingent of Lyon fans yet to forgive him for the harsh things he said about their team while he was in charge of l'OM. Garcia is winning the fans over, however: l'OL were 3-2 victors at Toulouse last weekend and even more impressive in beating Benfica 3-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
From a betting perspective, it would be smart to expect an open, attacking game. As the hosts, Marseille will play to win, yet they struggle to keep clean sheets against better opposition: they won 4-3 at Monaco, lost 4-0 at PSG and lost 2-1 at Monaco in the League Cup before their 2-1 win over Lille last weekend.
Lyon have scored eight times in their last three outings, with Garcia encouraging his players to get forward at every opportunity. Attackers look more capable than defenders for both teams, and that should become evident as the game unfolds. 'Yes' in the Both teams to Score? market at 1.80 and Over 2.5 Goals at 1.90 are the selections to consider.