Marseille faces stern test against Monaco

After opening the Ligue 1 season with three consecutive victories, Marseille will get its first true test of the campaign when they face Monaco on Sunday at the Velodrome.

Marseille opened its season with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Ligue 1 newcomers Guingamp and followed that performance with a 2-0 result over Evian on August 17.

Last week, Marseille received an 84th minute winner from Andre-Pierre Gignac and held on for a 1-0 result over Valenciennes. Valenciennes went toe-to-toe with Marseille for the majority of the match, but Andre Ayew headed a cross into the path of Gignac and he easily tapped it home to give his club the victory.

Monaco made a big splash in the transfer market over the summer by signing Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid, while also nabbing Joao Moutinho, James Rodriguez and Jeremy Toulalan.

All the big-money signings however, have paid off early in the season as the promoted club opened the campaign with a 2-0 victory over Bordeaux on Aug. 9 and then rolled to a 4-1 drubbing of Montpellier on Aug. 18.

But Monaco hit their first stumble of the season last week after the were held to a scoreless draw against Toulouse. The club will need to be on its game to keep Gignac, Jordan and Andre Ayew and Dimitri Payet in check for 90 minutes.

"Marseille is a good team, they play in the Champions League, it will be for us a real test," said Monaco head coach Claudio Ranieri. "I want to see how my players are against this kind of team. Moutinho should play, we'll see tomorrow how it feels during the last training.

I think with Moutinho, Falcao has more balls because they have automation... What matters to me is to play and win as a team. Hopefully this will be the case on Sunday."

Also on Sunday, St. Etienne welcomes Bordeaux to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, while Nice tangles with Montpellier at the Stade Municipal du Ray.

Defending league champions Paris Saint-Germain stumbled out of the gate as they were held to draws in their first two outings against Montpellier and Ajaccio before finally getting on the winning track last week with a 2-1 result against Nantes.

Summer signing Edinson Cavani from Napoli leads the club with two goals and will hope to increase his total on Saturday against Guingamp.

Also on Saturday in France, Evian plays host to Lyon, while Bastia welcomes Toulouse to the Stade Armand-Cesari and Lorient battles Valenciennes at the Stade du Moustoir.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Sochaux tangles with Ajaccio, Reims welcomes Nantes to the Stade Auguste Delaune II, while Rennes hosts Lille at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.