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France Ligue 1 - Match Prediction: Lyon VS Angers
Match Time：4/12/2021 03:00 Monday (GMT+8)
France Ligue 1 -- Lyon VS Angers
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Lyon will be more desperate than ever to reignite their Ligue 1 title charge when they welcome Angers to the Groupama Stadium for Sunday evening's top-flight fixture.
While the hosts are battling for glory as the season enters its business end, Angers realistically have very little to play for in the coming weeks.
A spate of below-par performances has seriously hampered Lyon's chances of a long-awaited Ligue 1 crown, and Rudi Garcia's side dropped two more points in the race for glory when they played out a 1-1 draw with European hopefuls Lens last weekend.
Prolific right-back Jonathan Clauss broke the deadlock for Sang et Or in the 65th minute, and Lyon were staring down the barrel of defeat before Lucas Paqueta restored parity nine minutes from time with an acrobatic effort, but the game ended on a sour note as Islam Slimani was sent off 20 minutes after being introduced.
Les Gones are now winless in three in the top flight following defeat to Paris Saint-Germain and a draw with Reims, and they made hard work of their Coupe de France battle with Red Star on Thursday night, but they eventually advanced on penalties after squandering a 2-0 lead in normal time.
None of the four title-chasing teams has been able to string together an impressive set of wins recently, but with Lyon boasting just one win from their last five in the top flight, Monaco have leapfrogged them in the table and the fourth-placed Gones are now five points below leaders Lille with seven games to go.
Garcia's side still have to face Lille and Monaco in potentially decisive fixtures before the season concludes, and they now prepare to play host to Angers at a ground where they have actually lost three of their last six in Ligue 1, although the visitors are equally short of inspiration before gameweek 32 gets underway.
With eight points separating Angers from the top five and 12 separating them from the bottom three, Stephane Moulin will simply hope to see his players consolidate their mid-table standing in the final weeks of the season.
As is the case with Lyon, Angers played out a 1-1 draw in the league - sharing the spoils with Montpellier HSC - before booking their spot in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France, as right-back Vincent Manceau's winner was enough to send fourth-tier side CS Sedan packing on Wednesday night.
The 11th-placed Scoistes have only managed to win one of their last nine matches, so any fleeting hopes of a push for Europe will be dashed if results continue in the same vein, but Moulin may start to prepare for the 2021-22 campaign very shortly, unless a catastrophe somehow drags his side into a fight for survival.
Angers should not be in any danger of dropping down that far, though, and they have managed to string together a three-game unbeaten run away from home - keeping three clean sheets to boot - and a fourth successive away shut-out would represent a new club record for Angers in the top flight.
However, Moulin's potential record-breakers came up short against Lyon earlier in the season in a 1-0 home defeat, and Les Gones are unbeaten in their last nine league games against Les Scoistes - most recently suffering a 2-0 defeat in December 2015.
Lyon Ligue 1 form: WDWDLD
Lyon form (all competitions): WWDLDW
Angers Ligue 1 form: DDWLDD
Angers form (all competitions): WWLDDW
Lyon striker Slimani served his suspension in the cup so is ready to be called upon this weekend, and he could come into Garcia's thinking after Tino Kadewere missed out against Red Star following an injury in training.
It remains to be seen if Houssem Aouar will shake off a muscular problem in time to feature, while full-backs Leo Dubois and Maxwel Cornet also missed out the cup win and remain doubtful for the visit of Angers.
Anthony Lopes will hope to return in between the sticks despite being unavailable for Thursday, while Jason Denayer and Karl Toko Ekambi are set to reclaim their rightful spots in the first XI.
Angers' injury problems continue to mount, as goalscorer Manceau and midfielder Pierrick Capelle both had to be forced off in the win over Sedan, and the former is unlikely to take part in this game.
Abdoulaye Bamba will make an immediate return at right-back, although Capelle's issue is not thought to be too serious, while Lassana Coulibaly, Sofiane Boufal, Jimmy Cabot and the COVID-positive Mathias Pereira Lage all remain out of contention.
Ismael Traore is expected to displace Mateo Pavlovic at the back, and number one Paul Bernardoni will return in between the sticks for 38-year-old Ludovic Butelle after being given the night off in midweek.
Lyon possible starting lineup:
Lopes; De Sciglio, Marcelo, Denayer, Cornet; Mendes, Caqueret, Paqueta; Slimani, Depay, Toko Ekambi
Angers possible starting lineup:
Bernardoni; Bamba, Traore, Thomas, Doumbia; Amadou, Mangani; Thioub, Fulgini, Capelle; Bahoken
Lyon VS Angers
Lyon 1-0 Angers
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