We’ve already had a look at the games in the last 16 between French teams who’re playing against Ulster, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers, so now here’s a guide for punters interested in the matches between French sides only.
Stade Francais v Racing 92 – Saturday
A massive crowd will attend the Paris derby involving Stade Francais and Racing 92 at the Stade Jean Bouin which can hold 50,000 spectators, kick off 18.30 Paris time on Saturday.
Going into this potentially thrilling contest, Stade Francais have been in poor form in the previous rounds of the competition, winning only one of their games, losing two and drawing the other.
And when it comes to the league, the Top 14, the form has been disappointing too. 11th in the table with 10 victories and 11 defeats from 22 games.
But with star players of the stature of fly half Leo Barre and Tongan winger or full back, Telusa Veainu, in their squad, with home advantage, Stade Francais will certainly be competitive.
As regards Racing 92, watch out for Grand Slam winner, centre Gael Fickou, who causes havoc whether in attack or defence. His tackling was outstanding during the Six Nations and one of the principal reasons France won the title with five straight wins.
Another major player is Scottish international, fly half Finn Russell, one of the most enterprising, skilful and entertaining performers in world rugby.
Racing are in top form in the Champions Cup and take on their Paris rivals having finished in first place in Pool A, winning all their four games.
As to form in the Top 14, this glamorous club are eighth with 12 victories and nine defeats in 21 games. Contests between clubs in the same city where there’s so much passion and emotion on the playing field are hard to forecast, but the probable outcome over two legs will see Racing 92 go through to the quarter-finals.
Bordeaux- Begles v La Rochelle – Saturday
The other clash between two French teams is at the Stade Chabin-Delmas in Bordeaux which has a capacity of more than 30,000.
Here on Saturday Bordeaux-Begles have home advantage in the first leg against La Rochelle, kick off 15.00 French time.
This promises to be a cracking game because both teams are evenly matched. If you look at the Top 14 table, you’ll see that Bordeaux-Begles are second(13 wins from 22 games on 63 points) and just below them in third place, La Rochelle(12 victories in 22 contests) are on 58.
Coached by the former Ireland international fly half Ronan O’Gara, La Rochelle won the first of what will be three contests by 16-15 at Bordeaux-Begles last weekend, so they enter the fray with so much confidence, and, importantly, a better record in Europe this season than their opponents.
While Bordeaux-Begles won only one game in Pool B before qualifying for the last 16, La Rochelle were in decent form in Pool A, winning three games in four and drawing the other one.
In the La Rochelle side, Grand Slam winner, number eight Gregory Alldritt, is all set to play a major role as is fly half Pierre Popelin who’s an accurate goal kicker.
However, don’t expect Alldritt to be allowed to dictate events in the battle for possession. In the Bordeaux-Begles pack, one of the best forwards in France’s Grand Slam winning pack, second row Cameron Woki and a local hero, is all set to deliver another eye-catching performance which could mean that his club take a lead, however small, into the second leg at La Rochelle.
* Rugby odds correct at the time of writing. All odds subject to change.