French Ligue 1 Review - Matchday 6Sep 25
If anyone was in any doubt that Paris Saint-Germain are the Ligue 1 team to beat this season, then their 7-1 thumping of Lille definitively banished those questions.
A Kylian Mbappe hat-trick, along with a double by Neymar and further strikes by Lionel Messi and Achraf Hakimi stunned the Stade Pierre-Mauroy as Christophe Galtier's men made it 17 goals in three games (it took them until their sixth match last season to reach the same figure).
Now PSG host mid-table Monaco in one of 10 matches this weekend across France's top flight. Here's the lowdown on each of those contests.
Matchday 3 fixtures live on BT Sport
Saturday 27 August
Lens vs Rennes, 8pm on BT Sport 2HD
Sunday 28 August
Nantes vs Toulouse, 12pm on BT Sport 1HD
Nice vs Marseille, 2pm on BT Sport 1HD
Reims vs Lyon, 4pm on BT Sport 3HD
PSG vs Monaco, 7.30pm on BT Sport 2HD
It is hard to tell what frame of mind Lille will be in after the traumatic events of last weekend.
Will they use the humiliation as fuel to produce an emphatic response against their Corsican hosts, or will the manner of the defeat weigh heavily on them as they prepare to face the islanders?
It's hard to imagine that Paulo Fonseca's side will again be stung by the sort of clinical kick-off routine that saw them trail 1-0 against the reigning champions, but they will need to reassess when they play out from the back in future after being punished on a couple of occasions when dithering in possession.
Meanwhile, Ajaccio slipped to a narrow loss at Rennes last time out. It was a case of what might have been for the newly promoted outfit, who saw Thomas Mangani's retaken penalty saved at 1-0 down after the midfielder's initial conversion was ruled out for encroachment.
A swift counter-attack then led to Mangani making amends, whipping in a cross for Mounaim El Idrissy to head in a equaliser.
Arthur Theate scored what proved to be the winner at the back post though as he flicked in a header unmarked, and although Rennes were reduced to nine men late on, the Bears could not capitalise and now sit 18th, still searching for their first win of the campaign.
Auxerre won their first Ligue 1 match since May 2012 with a 2-1 comeback victory at Montpellier on Matchday 3 in a match that featured four red cards.
Former Liverpool centre-back Mamadou Sakho's header from a well-worked corner broke the deadlock just before the break.
After visiting debutant M'Baye Niang, once of Milan fame, was giving his marching orders for elbowing Sakho in the head during an aerial duel, Jean-Marc Furlan's men levelled when Montpellier keeper Jonas Omlin's errant goal-kick was seized on and Nuno da Costa produced a cheeky nutmeg on a recovering defender before sweeping home.
The turnaround was complete when a clumsy Sakho challenge saw Mathias Autret sweep home the penalty and although Da Costa blotted his copybook with a second yellow card late on, the three points were ultimately secured in large part due to some smart stops by Benoit Costil, bought from financially stricken Bordeaux this summer in what could be one of the shrewdest signings of the window.
The suspensions of Niang and Da Costa leave Auxerre badly lacking in attacking areas, although Lassine Sinayoko will be back after serving a one-match ban and is likely to be leading the line with Gaetan Charbonnier out for at least a month due to a fractured tibia.
The visitors were the surprise package of Ligue 1 last season, but have got off to a slightly slow start this term, losing at home to Monaco before draws with Nice and Reims.
One of the matches that promises the most excitement this weekend is Lens against Rennes, as seventh and fourth from last season meet.
Having picked up seven points from their opening three games, Lens are again in the conversation to qualify for Europe - you need to finish fifth or above to qualify in France - and their dismantling of Monaco in their own backyard underlined their lofty credentials.
Summer signing Lois Openda got the Blood and Gold off the mark from close range, before Deiver Machado's drilled effort doubled the lead. Benoit Badiashile got one back, but Seko Fofana restored the two-goal margin from the spot and substitute Wesley Said rounded off the win by firing in at the near post having come on to exploit the space left by the sending-off of Vanderson for two bookable offences.
Rennes were one of the most ruthless teams in Europe last season and after picking up one point in their opening two games this term, they finally bagged three as one of their lethal trio, Martin Terrier, found the bottom right-hand corner with deadly accuracy against Ajaccio, before Arthur Theate ultimately won Bruno Genesio's men the game after Mounaim El Idrissy had levelled.
The Red and Blacks have failed to beat their upcoming opponents in their last four meetings and have scored just once in those contests, but don't be surprised if both sides net several.
A very familiar opponent to Lens fans will be Arnaud Kalimuendo, who was on loan at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis for the last two campaigns, scoring 19 in 60 league games. Now at Rennes, he has slotted into their line-up and is now on the hunt for his first goal in new colours. This match would represent an opportune moment to break his duck.
Nantes are another club still searching for their first win and will be desperately disappointed not to have taken at least a point at Marseille after Moses Simon missed two gilt-edged chances.
After falling behind, last season's Coupe de France winners levelled through Ludovic Blas' penalty after Samuel Gigot was shown a second yellow, but the 10 men ultimately prevailed at the Stade Velodrome as Nicolas Pallois cruelly headed past his own keeper when attempting to react to Luis Suarez's header.
Toulouse's positive start to the campaign after being promoted as Ligue 2 champions has been rocked after star striker Rhys Healey suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in the 2-2 home draw to Lorient.
The injury to the Englishman rules him out of most of this campaign at the very least and despite his absence being a severe blow, the southern French outfit have shown that they have multiple attacking threats, as Rafael Ratao and Thijs Dallinga both demonstrated in netting for the second time already this term against Lorient.
Les Violets will need to be sharpen up defensively though. Both goals let in against their most recent opponents came from clumsy challenges - leading to a free-kick and a penalty - while another conceded spot-kick was saved by Maxime Dupe.
Brest vs Montpellier
Brest scored three away goals in a single league game for the first time since January 2020 as they saw off Angers thanks to Jeremy Le Douaron's double.
The opener came courtesy of a stooping header from the forward and the Pirates must have been confident of sailing off with their loot when the hosts went down to 10 men on 34 minutes.
Le Douaron doubled his tally for the afternoon by tucking home from close range following some direct running by Mathias Pereira Lage before Achraf Dari's unmarked header virtually ensured victory.
Montpellier will miss both teenager Khalil Fayad and talisman Teji Savanier for the trip to Brittany. Savanier's red card was undoubtedly deserved after the midfield maestro did a horrible two-footed lunge from behind, but Fayad will feel he has a chance of overturning his ban, with his trip looking like it warranted just a yellow card.
Having conceded at least two goals in each of their first three games, Olivier Dall'oglio's side may put Christopher Jullien straight into the side after his move from Celtic.
Lorient vs Clermont
Lorient's draw at Toulouse could have been all three had Terem Moffi's penalty not been saved by Maxime Dupe, but the game was another reminder of Armand Lauriente's ability from distance as the 23-year-old crashed a free-kick in off the bar in the second minute. The video below is a previous illustration of his capabilities.
Despite coming into this campaign as one of the favourites to go down, Regis Le Bris' men currently sit on four points (and have a game in hand after their last scheduled home match against Lyon was postponed due to an unsafe pitch).
Clermont were also strongly tipped to be bound for Ligue 2, but since losing 5-0 at home to PSG, they stormed back from 2-0 down to defeat Reims 4-2 and then made a rapid start against Nice, ultimately netting the winner inside six minutes as Saif-Eddine Khaoui steered home.
A win for either side could take them as high as second - an unthinkable proposition just a few weeks ago.
Last season's corresponding clash between these two French footballing heavyweights showcased the ugly side of the Beautiful Game.
As Dimitri Payet prepared to take a corner in front of the Nice fans, he was struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd and decided to pick it up and throw it back.
At this point, the home supporters became incensed, with a sizeable number making it onto the pitch to confront players as security personnel urged the intruders to leave the field, while a scuffle broke out on the touchline involving Marseille's then-boss Jorge Sampaoli.
After the players went inside, the match was suspended for 90 minutes before the contest was abandoned when the visitors refused to re-emerged. Nice were docked two points for the crowd disorder, with the rearranged fixture played at Troyes' Stade de l'Aube behind closed doors. That game finished 1-1.
Coming into this encounter, Marseille are riding high under new manager Igor Tudor, having collected seven points from their opening nine on offer, and could offer a debut on-loan Manchester United centre-back Eric Bailly with Samuel Gigot suspended after his red card against Nantes.
In the opposite dugout, Lucien Favre is still trying to find his feet after draws to Toulouse and Strasbourg and a 1-0 defeat at Clermont, a game which saw Mario Lemina and Jean-Clair Todibo dismissed, meaning both will miss this match. Mattia Viti, signed from Empoli in the summer, is set to replace Todibo and make his debut in the process.
Troyes vs Angers
Troyes are the only side yet to register a point, and they won't have many better chances to get off the mark than against Angers, who are yet to pick up a win themselves.
The home side have conceded 10 goals so far this term, a league high, and were the architects of their own downfall early on in their last outing against Lyon as Adil Rami played a blind pass straight into the path of Alexandre Lacazette, who didn't need a second invitation.
While ESTAC equalised at Groupama Stadium thanks to Romain Tardieu's penalty, poor defending again proved the visitors' undoing as Nicolas Tagliafico had all the time in the world to tuck home from Tete's ball across, before Tete got on the scoresheet after more slack Troyes passing and then doubled his account as he wriggled between two half-hearted challenges to fire home.
Simply, the defending has to improve drastically if Bruno Irles' men are to survive, but they are also facing a side in Angers who shipped three at home to Brest last weekend as Jeremy Le Douaron bagged a brace and Achraf Dari scored the third, with all the goals demonstrating an alarming lack of awareness as the attackers were left with too much room.
The Black and Whites will also be without recent signing Halid Sabanovic, who was dismissed for a reckless challenge last weekend. Troyes meanwhile could hand a debut to Sevilla loanee Rony Lopes, who bagged 15 Ligue 1 goals in 2017/18 for Monaco.
It is the battle of Arsenal's future versus their past as Folarin Balogun goes up against Alexandre Lacazette.
Gooners will be excited by Balogun's start to life as Ligue 1, the 21-year-old steering in to equalise at Strasbourg last weekend and make it three strikes in three games.
Lacazette's goalscoring pedigree in France needs no introduction. The 31-year-old has already struck twice in as many matches since returning to his homeland and is forming a great understanding with Tete, who has hit the ground running since his summer loan move from Shakhtar Donetsk, as underlined by the second of his finishes against Troyes as he nipped in between two challenges and lashed home.
Despite Balogun's good form, 19th-placed Brest need to add to their solitary point sooner rather than later. Lyon, however, have aspirations to finish in the top three and qualify for the Champions League for the first time in four years, and may even be PSG's biggest challengers for the title.
Emmanuel Agbadou remains suspended after his red card against Clermont two weeks ago, while visiting goalkeeper Anthony Lopes serves the last of a three-game ban after being sent off against Ajaccio.
While Paris Saint-Germain are finally unleashing the full potential of a Lionel Messi-Kylian Mbappe-Neymar front three, it's hard to shake off the feeling that the triumvirate's devastating displays are not the best thing for the competitiveness of the league.
Christophe Galtier's men made a strong Lille side look like amateurs as they danced, feinted and dribbled their way to a 7-1 win.
Twelve of PSG's 17 league goals so far this term have been scored by their all-star forwards and it's difficult to see them failing to that jaw-dropping tally against a Monaco outfit that conceded four at home to Lens last time out (albeit the fourth came after a red card for Vanderson, who is now suspended).
However, Monaco, who sit 11th, can perhaps take heart from some of their recent meetings with PSG, having picked up four points from their last three matches at the Parc des Princes. Philippe Clement's men will need all the inspiration they can find.