In a refreshing change from PSG’s dominance 12 months ago, the title race in France is arguably the most fascinating in Europe right now. That’s thanks to the efforts of Monaco and Nice, as the south coast duo sit first and second ahead of the most anticipated Derby de la Cote d’Azur in a generation.
The two sides boast 11 Ligue 1 titles between them, but both have suffered difficult times in the 21st century.
Monaco’s championship success in 1999-00 was the most recent top-tier title for either side.
But it’s a much brighter picture on the French Riviera today. The rivals each sit three points clear of former champions PSG, and now 22 games into the campaign, we can be assured this is no fluke.
Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco sit top on goal difference, thanks to a quite stunning display of attacking football.
The highest scorers in Europe, Les Monegasques have scored 65 league goals this season, one shy of a three goals per game average. They’re by far the most potent attack force in the continent’s top five divisions, and even Barcelona have only scored 52.
But with Nice conceding just 15 goals this term, no side in France has been more difficult to break down – and only Bayern Munich have let in fewer across England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
Five of the last seven meetings in all competitions between this pair have ended in a 1-0 scoreline, but with so much attacking talent on show, surely we’re in for multiple goals here.
Despite their attacking prowess however, Monaco came unstuck in September, when they were hammered 4-0 at Nice’s Allianz Riviera stadium.
Mario Balotelli netted twice that day, and now free from the scrutiny of British media, is revelling in France with nine goals from just 11 appearances.
Alongside Balotelli leading Nice’s charge is Alassane Plea, and the impressive 23-year-old is the club’s top scorer this season with 11 league goals.
A certain Radamel Falcao is Monaco’s top scorer on 12, and the worrying thing for Nice will be just how many players are regularly netting for the hosts.
Behind the former Chelsea and Manchester United forward, each of Guido Carrillo, Valere Germain and 21-year-old Thomas Lemar have bagged seven goals.
It doesn’t end there, 20-year-old Brazilian talent Boschilia has six, while Fabinho and Bernado Silva can count five strikes each.
But with eight assists, Nice’s Jean Seri will be the most selfless player on the pitch this weekend.
If there’s one Cote d’Azur derby you need to watch, it’s this one as two historic clubs and local rivals boasting thousands of passionate fans chase a rare and treasured championship. Everything is on the line.
And handily, you can watch it all unfold on Ladbrokes.com thanks to our live streaming – kick off is 16:00 Saturday.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing