Ligue 1 - Mid-Season ReviewNov 17
Four things to watch during Ligue 1 Matchday 12 after Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe tear Ajaccio apart
Messi and Mbappe combined sensationally for all three goals against the Corsicans, and Paris Saint-Germain now sit six points ahead of nearest challengers Lorient ahead of the weekend's nine remaining fixtures.
PSG have kicked off the weekend with a 3-0 win at Ajaccio to move six points clear at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of the rest of the division's Matchday 12 fixtures.
Amid talk of a feud between Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, of the latter’s apparent intention to leave, and now a legal saga involving a group of Barcelona fans claiming PSG’s signing of Lionel Messi broke European laws on state aid, the actual football has often been overshadowed.
But, with Neymar suspended, the French champions ripped their Corsican opponents as Messi and Mbappe sumptuously combined for all three goals.
Without further ado, let's get into the biggest stories across the remainder of France's top flight heading into Saturday and Sunday.
Marseille target response after derby defeat
Defeat to PSG was a blow for Marseille and followed a surprise loss to Ajaccio the weekend before.
After a strong start to the season, there is a sense now that Igor Tudor’s team need a response to get their Ligue 1 season back on track.
Back-to-back wins against Sporting in the Champions League have left Marseille in a good position to qualify for the last 16, but attention now is on domestic football.
Olympique sit fourth in Ligue 1 and take on third-place Lens on Saturday, with just a point separating the two teams.
With Marseille on home soil at the Stade Velodrome, it’s a chance to move back into the top three and put the PSG loss behind them.
Jonathan David in the running for Golden Boot
Few would have looked past Mbappe for the Ligue 1 Golden Boot this season. And if not the PSG striker, perhaps Neymar or Messi would fire in more goals than anyone else.
But Lille’s Jonathan David is very much in contention to finish as the division’s top scorer, with a brace in last week’s 3-0 win at Strasbourg taking him to nine for the season, level with Neymar and one ahead of Mbappe.
The rapid forward is well on course to beat his return of 15 league goals last season, and his early season form has led to reports of interest from Chelsea and Everton.
David’s form has helped Lille climb the table in recent weeks, with three wins from four taking Paulo Fonseca’s side up to seventh in the Ligue 1 standings.
If the 22-year-old keeps on scoring at his current rate, Lille may well find themselves in contention for a European place.
Keep an eye on Ligue 1’s top scorer as he and his teammates take on sixth-placed Monaco on Sunday night.
Rennes surge into top-three contention
Rennes were a little inconsistent in the opening weeks of the season but they are now very much the team to beat after an excellent run of form.
Bruno Genesio’s side have put together a run of three straight wins, beating Strasbourg 3-1, Nantes 3-0 and, most recently, Lyon 3-2.
The goals are flowing - only PSG have managed more than Rennes’ 23 in 11 games - and there is a real swagger about the Brittany-based outfit at the moment.
Martin Terrier, who scored 21 goals in Ligue 1 from the left of Rennes’ attack, has continued where he left off, netting seven times already this term.
Given Marseille’s slight dip in form and Lens’ recent defeat to Lille, Rennes are now just three points off the Champions League places and look in good shape to mount a sustained push for Europe again this season.
Can Lorient keep up at the top?
Given Lorient only narrowly avoided relegation last season, few expected them to be challenging at Ligue 1’s summit 11 games into the new campaign.
But head coach Regis Le Bris has guided his team to second in the table, a remarkable achievement even if it proves difficult to maintain.
From early September until last weekend, Lorient went on a six-match winning run in Ligue 1, only brought to an end with a goalless draw against Reims last time out.
The challenge now will be to begin another sequence of wins, with a trip to 12th-placed Troyes next on the fixture list for Les Merlus.
It’s unrealistic to expect Lorient to hang onto the coattails of PSG throughout the season, but they will be aiming high after an astonishing start.