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Ligue 1 Midweek Preview: French top tier swings back into action

Wednesday sees the return of Ligue 1 following the break for the Qatar World Cup, with Paris Saint-Germain top of the table and seeking to extend their lead.

Before the break PSG thumped Auxerre 5-0 at home to go five points clear of Lens, as head coach Christophe Galtier seeks to win the title in his first year in charge of Les Parisiens.

Their first task on the resumption is a home game against relegation-threatened Strasbourg and even though they will not have Lionel Messi to call upon, it looks ripe for a big victory for the champions.

Elsewhere, Lyon have underachieved this season as they sit eighth in the table and they will be hoping to kickstart their campaign when they go to Brest.

Monaco could also jump on to the coattails of fourth-place Marseille with a win, as they travel to Auxerre looking to secure a Christmas period win.

Messi-less PSG still too strong for Strasbourg

What: PSG v Strasbourg
Where: Parc des Princes
When: 20:00, Wednesday 28th December
How to watch: BT Sport 1
Odds: PSG 2/9, Draw 11/2, Strasbourg 11/1

It will be interesting to see what sort of reception Messi gets when he returns to PSG following his World Cup heroics, where his brace helped take Argentina to a World Cup final penalty shootout, where they triumphed over Didier Deschamps' Bleus.

That remains to be seen as Messi will not be in action after being granted an extra period of rest with the Argentina squad back home celebrating in Buenos Aires.

Despite that, Kylian Mbappe has been back training and should be fit to play - the 23-year-old will be fiercely determined after becoming only the second player to hit a hat-trick in a World Cup final after Geoff Hurst - yet somehow he was on the losing side.

Mbappe is the top scorer in Ligue 1 with 12 goals, while team-mate Neymar sits one goal behind, with the former 11/4 to be First Goalscorer against Strasbourg.

After 15 games, PSG remain unbeaten in the French top-flight and it doesn't look like there are too many teams who can stop them, particularly with the formidable attack they have at their disposal.

As a result, Strasbourg may be fearful coming into this game, as they arrive 19th in the table and without a win in their last five games.

They did earn a creditable point against high-flying Lorient in the last pre-World Cup contest, but they will do very, very well to get anything from this trip.

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Lyon desperate for positive results

What: Brest v Lyon
Where: Stade Francis-Le Blé
When: 20:00, Wednesday 28th December
How to watch: BT Sport 4
Odds: Brest 11/4, Draw 13/5, Lyon 19/20

This season has certainly not gone to plan for Lyon and, right now, their prospects of qualifying for Europe next season are hanging by a thread.

It began very well indeed with 13 points from their first five games, but since then they have embarked upon generally poor form.

It led to a change in manager with Peter Bosz departing in early October to be replaced by former French central defender Laurent Blanc, who is still getting to grips with the task in hand.

Lyon have won only two of their last ten games and the break for Qatar may have offered them a chance to reset and try and get to grips with the rest of the campaign.

The first task will be the trip west to Brest, who are hovering just above the relegation zone in 16th following a tough season so far.

However, there was some pre-World Cup positivity for them as they secured their first home win of the campaign - a 2-1 victory against Troyes.

A repeat would lift them further clear of trouble, while giving Lyon further post-Christmas problems.

Monaco aim to gatecrash Champions League race

What: Auxerre v Monaco
Where: Stade de l'Abbé-Deschamps
When: 16:00, Wednesday 28th December
How to watch: BT Sport 1
Odds: Auxerre 7/2, Draw 3/1, Monaco 8/11

With all of the teams placed second and fifth not in action until Thursday, Monaco have a chance to steal a march on their rivals as they hope to end the season with Champions League football.

This season has been pretty good so far, with eight wins, three draws, and four defeats from their 15 Ligue 1 matches while Philippe Clement's side got through their Europa League group stage to enter the play-offs.

Currently, they are on a run of two wins from five games and stuttered slightly before the break, so a chance to refresh may have done them the power of good.

A win, at 8/11, would take them level on points with Marseille and if they can get a big victory then they could potentially leapfrog them to go fourth.

Auxerre are struggling in 17th with only three wins all season, so the visitors will be confident heading into this game.

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