Ligue 1 Tips | 28th February – 1st March 2015

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FOUR bets from France that have got Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) saying ‘ohh la la’…

Lille v Lyon | Saturday 15.00

League leaders Lyon scuppered our chances of a winning European NAP last weekend. Skipper Maxime Gonalons missed a stoppage time penalty but OL still managed to bag three points in their 1-0 home win over Nantes; it gave us a push rather than profit but I won’t be deserting Les Gones just yet.

Hubert Fournier’s table-toppers were far from their best last weekend as they struggled to breakdown a determined Nantes side. The good news was the return of star striker Alexandre Lacazette, who started that fixture. The run out will have done him the world of good and I’m hopeful he’ll be ready to fire this young squad to an unlikely Ligue 1 triumph.

This weekend they head north to face Lille and the visitors are well worth siding with off a 0 start on the Asian Handicap line with Bet365 at 37/40. It’s effectively the same bet as a Draw No Bet market but we’re getting a better price – we’ll profit should Lyon win, lose our stake if they’re beaten and get our cash back if the match ends all square.

Last weekend Lille were on the wrong end of a 2-1 result against in-form Bastia in Corsica as they continue to labour around mid-table. Their awful record in front of goal is a big reason for their failure to compete for a European place, netting just 21 goals this campaign; that’s the third worst tally in the top tier.

That Bastia loss saw the Les Dogues defence stretched on the counter-attack and it’s most definitely an angle that the visitors will look to expose. Simon Kjaer marshals the hosts backline but even he appeared suspect and although Lille’s W6-D5-L2 record at Stade Pierre-Mauroy is respectable, it’s noticeable they’ve failed to beat PSG, Monaco and St Etienne in their own backyard, conceding goals in each.

The travellers have lost one Ligue 1 game since August and have found the back of the net in 22/26 outings. I’d fancy that record to be extended and I’m happy backing close to even-money on Les Gones knowing I’ve got the draw onside.

Lorient v Bastia | Saturday 19.00

Lens and Metz look to be boarding the first bus back to Ligue 2. So with just one relegation place looking like needing filling, Lorient will be hoping for a positive result when they take on Bastia this weekend. Les Merlus are hovering just two points above the drop zone as they bid to keep their nine-year stay in the top-flight intact.

Last weekend’s away day at Evian was postponed but W2-D2-L1 in their previous five outings has given home supporters encouragement and coach Sylvain Ripoll will be all to aware his charges will now need to improve their home form. On their artificial surface, Lorient are always a tough assignment for visiting sides but a W4-D4-L5 record at their Stade du Moustoir base represents the second worst home record in the league.

Bastia arrive in town enjoying their best run of form in Ligue 1 since 2003 (W5-D4-L0) and they’re now unbeaten in 14 matches in all competitions. The Corsicans have been a revelation since Ghislain Printant stepped up to the role from his reserve team position following Claude Makelele’s sacking.

Bastia can be backed at 39/40 with Bet365 when being given a +0.50 start on the Asian Handicap market and that holds plenty of appeal. Les Blues are riding high in 10th, haven’t suffered an away loss since the first week of December and are well capable of picking up at least a point in Saturday night’s showdown.

Sebastian Squillaci signed a new deal recently and his presence has been instrumental in the visitors sound defensive record; Bastia have leaked two or more goals just twice in their previous 15 Ligue 1 outings and having scored in 10 of their last 12, I’m delighted to be taking almost even-money on the Corsicans going home with at least a point.

Bordeaux v Reims | Saturday 19.00

Much was made of Bordeaux’s electric start to the season under new boss Willy Sagnol. But as the injuries began to pile up, Les Girondins lost their way, winning just four of 11 matches in the lead-up to Christmas.

Sagnol wasn’t helped by an exodus of players to the African Cup of Nations but with key personnel returning, Bordeaux’s season is turning in the right direction. Eight points from 12 in February have lifted the 2009 champions back to within touching distance of the European places and they’ll be keen to build on that progress when Reims arrive.

The visitors were held to a goalless draw at home to rock bottom Metz last weekend and boss Jean-Luc Vasseur is beginning to feel the heat as the fallen giants remain on the cusp of a relegation scrap. Despite only coming away with a point, Reims had enough opportunities to add to their tally of scoring in 19/25 league games before that fixture.

It’s that forward-line I’m looking to take advantage of this weekend. The visitors have scored goals in all bar three of their 12 trips away from their Champagne-region home but just two clean sheets since November (and an average of 1.83 goals-per-game conceded on the road) has hindered SDR significantly.

Both Teams To Score can be backed at evens with William Hill and I’m hooked. Between the two teams, this bet has proven a winning selection in 30/52 (58%) league matches in 2014/15, which means we’re getting a value price. And I’m a sucker for a bit of value.

Montpellier v Nice | Sunday 16.00 | BT Sport 2

Injury crisis alert! Nice head west across the French Riviera for a showdown with in-form Montpellier, without a host of defenders through injury. Right-back has proven a particular hole in the head for Claude Puel as Lloyd Palun and Gregoire Puel are both expected to miss out with centre-halves Mathieu Bodmer and Romain Genevois also crocked.

In their last outing, Kevin Gomis’ mistake allowed Bernardo Silva the chance to win the derby against Monaco as Nice went down for the first time in 2015. With their injury problems, I’m expecting that figure to rise to two on Sunday afternoon. After all, the visitors have failed to even score in their last four!

Montpellier boss Rolland Courbis says his side are safe from relegation following their 2-0 success at Guingamp. The hosts are now aiming to reach the 50-point mark with a possible run at the European qualification places in mind. With this the first of three successive fixtures at the Stade de la Mosson, they could well go up through the gears.

La Paillade have won seven of their last 11 games on home soil and have bagged maximum points in four of their previous six home or away. Lucas Barrios is available again following the virus that saw the striker miss that Guingamp victory and the hosts have beaten Nice at the Stade de la Mosson in their last five encounters.

As for the visitors, Nice have lost 17/28 away games now and that figure stands at 17 defeats from 22 matches when they’ve conceded a goal. Considering the issues at the back, it would be a big surprise if Montpellier failed to breach their beleaguered guests. Sportingbet make the home win odds-against at 23/20. Yes please!

Best Bets

Lille v Lyon – Lyon 0 Asian Handicap (37/40 Bet365)

Lorient v Bastia – Bastia +0.50 Asian Handicap (39/40 Bet365)

Bordeaux v Reims – Both Teams To Score (1/1 William Hill)

Montpellier v Nice – Montpellier to win (23/20 Sportingbet)

Your View

Who do you fancy in France this weekend? Has Mark overlooked a better bet on the Ligue 1 coupon?

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After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production. With a huge passion for stats, the Football League and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.

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