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Saint Etienne to examine Marseille rebirth

St. Etienne are currently fourth on the Ligue One standings (Agency Photo)

Fourth place is up for grabs at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday when visitors Saint Etienne test Olympique Marseille’s rebirth after the December mid-season breather.

Rudi Garcia’s hosts are unbeaten since he recruited Italy forward Mario Balotelli and paired him with Valerie Germain.

Visitors Saint Etienne are playing within their element thanks to the prolific form of Carthage Eagles striker Wahbi Khazri, who earlier this season became the highest scoring Tunisian in French Ligue One history.

Sparks should fly in midfield as Marseille’s current Les Bleus stars Demitri Payet and Florian Flauvin try to get the better of former international Yann M’Villa.

Runaway leaders Paris Saint Germain could rest several first team stars in readiness for next week’s Champions League rubber with Manchester United when they defend a seventeen point points cushion away to relegation threatened Caen.

22-goal top scorer Kylian Mbappe Lottin is however expected to get a runout after sitting out of Tuesday’s Coupe de France 3-0 victory over Dijon.

Christophe Galtier’s surprise package, Lille Metropole, have a perfect opportunity to extend their points advantage over third placed Olympique Lyon when they welcome lowly Dijon to northern France.

Lille’s fabled front four of Nicolas Pepe, Rafael Leao and the two Jonathans – Ikone and Bamba, should have no problem tearing Dijon to shreds.

Bruno Genesio’s Lyon will meanwhile be hoping to bounce back from last week’s 0-2 reverse at the hands of Monaco when they battle Alain Casanova’s rejuvenated Toulouse at Stade Lyonnais.

Lyon’s Burkinane forward Bertrand Traore and Toulouse’s 14-goal Ivorian skipper Max Gradel will be key men for their sides.

At the opposite end of the table, basement club Guingamp host Nantes, Amiens are away to red-hot Reims whereas 2017 champions Monaco, who have rediscovered their mojo since the reappointment of Leonardo Jardim, face a tricky trip to Angers.

THE FRENCH LIGUE ONE FIXTURES:

SATURDAY: 

-Caen v Paris Saint Germain @7pm

-Angers v Monaco @10pm

-Reims v Amiens @10pm

-Nimes v Rennes *PP

SUNDAY: 

-Guingamp v Nantes @5pm

-Lille Metropole v Dijon @5pm

-Nice v Strasbourg @5pm

-Olympique Lyon v Toulouse @7pm

-Olympique Marseille v Saint Etienne @11pm

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