Nantes will no doubt be glad they were able to skirt the rules at the start of the summer in appointing Claudio Ranieri. When Sergio Conceicao left for Porto in June, the 2001 Ligue 1 champions sought to hire the Italian, who led Leicester City to that famous English Premier League success in 2016, but first had to navigate the division rule of managers over the age of 65.
Nine months on, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea by any means, Nantes lie in sixth place, but things have taken a downturn in the past few weeks. Nantes’ inconsistency has seen them relinquish the stronghold they previously had on fifth place, at one point even challenging the top three, and have dropped behind Montpellier.
Their league slide hasn’t been helped by their home form of four losses in five, so perhaps it’s a good thing that this weekend they travel to Marseille. Perhaps it’s even better that they face L’OM who come off the back of successive Le Classique defeats, in both league and cup games, to Paris Saint-Germain.
Marseille lie in third, a position aided by the laxity of Lyon below them as much as anything else, five points ahead of the team in fourth. But Lyon are bound to stop their league rot, hence the need to pick up the pace as soon as possible.
The pressure to bounce back, to keep pace with the top two and keep number four at bay, as well as playing in front of an unforgiving Stade Velodrome crowd, may well play into Nantes’ hands.
Elsewhere, Lyon’s league horror show has become a domestic horror show, as they found themselves out of the Coupe de France. Bruno Genesio’s side travel to Montpellier, the side directly below them, On Sunday.
PSG play their first league game without Neymar away at Troyes, Monaco host Bordeaux, who have recovered their form of late, while Nice welcome Lille to the Cote D’Azur.
Montpellier v Lyon
Troyes v PSG
Marseille v Nantes
Monaco v Bordeaux
Nice v Lille
Amiens v Rennes
Angers v Guingamp
Metz v Toulouse
St. Etienne v Dijon
Caen v Strasbourg