MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has three French fancies he’s keen to get involved with in Ligue 1 this weekend. Are you following him in?
Bastia v Metz | Saturday 19.00
Bastia returned to Corsica late on Wednesday night as heroes. A penalty shootout victory against Monaco in the principality secured a historic place in the Coupe de la Ligue final. It was just another example of the defensive resolve and character now in the side following Ghislain Printant’s appointment as manager.
The previous weekend Les Blues survived an onslaught from Lens to pinch a point on the road. On-loan goalkeeper Alphonse Areola was inspired but he did give the late penalty away that cost the Corsicans two points. But as they return to the island, I’m happy to take the plunge on Bastia again.
Les Blues are rated at 5/4 (William Hill) and are notoriously tough to beat on their home patch. Despite enduring a difficult season, Bastia can still boast a W6-D8-L3 record in their last 17 games at the Stade Armand Cesari and are now unbeaten in six Ligue 1 outings.
Skipper Yannick Cahuzac might be missing having been forced off on Wednesday night but there’s enough gas in the tank to believe the hosts can make a mockery of the odds on offer, despite their marathon match in midweek.
Opponents Metz failed to beat 10-man Nice last weekend in wintery conditions meaning they’ve now W0-D3-L8 since early November. The visitors are rock bottom of the league and have scored just three goals in their 12 road games, nine of which have ended in defeat.
With star man Florent Malouda on the sidelines and a lack of creativity or cutting edge in attacking areas, I’m expecting another loss in the Metz column come Saturday night.
Montpellier v Lille | Saturday 19.00
Montpellier are now seven games unbeaten (W4-D3-L0) in France’s top tier following last weekend’s 0-0 draw away to Lorient. Boss Rolland Courbis was fiercely critical of the synthetic surface at the Stade du Moustoir and so his team will relish a return to home comforts on Saturday night.
La Paillade will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak at La Mosson, their home ground that has seen Courbis’ charges collect 15 points from the last 18 available. It’s a run of form that has seen MHSC move to within four points of the likes of Monaco and St Etienne in fourth and fifth.
Opponents Lille arrive on the back of a rotten run, having W3-D4-L8 in their last 15 Ligue 1 games. On the road, the northerners record looks even bleaker with only three points garnered from a winless streak of 10. Rene Girard’s team earned a draw at Nantes last weekend but Les Dogues were under the cosh for the majority of that match.
Montpellier are available to back at 5/4 with BetVictor and that looks more than fair. When hosting teams in ninth and below, La Paillade return an impressive W6-D1-L0 record whilst Lille have W0-D2-L6 of their eight games away to teams above them in the standings, failing to score in five.
What’s more, the visitors are averaging just 2.27 shots-on-target in their road games so it’s no surprise they’ve managed just five goals in 11 games away from their Stade Pierre-Mauroy base.
The only negative I can find against the hosts is Jonas Martin’s shoulder injury picked up at Loreint last time out. It will keep the highly-rated midfielder out of action for around six weeks but it’s not off-putting enough to ignore Montpellier’s claims at 5/4.
Lyon v PSG | Sunday 20.00 | BT Sport 1
Football fans have an array of mouth-watering games to sink their teeth into this weekend but Sunday night’s showdown between Lyon and PSG has arguably the most at stake.
Lyon’s incredible 19-game run (W14-D4-L1) since September has seen Les Gones take a two-point lead at the summit and there’s no doubt they’ll need to avoid defeat against the capital club if they’ve serious aspirations in taking the Ligue 1 title this season.
Ten successive home wins and a defence that has not conceded a goal for 566 minutes in league action show Hubert Fournier’s side are no pushovers. But lacking their leading man in attack, Les Gones could find the going tough against the defending champions.
Lyon drew a blank away to Monaco without Alexandre Lacazette meaning they’ve recorded D2-L2 in the four matches the 21-goal hitman has missed. And with PSG’s defence starting to show their mettle, it’s difficult to see the home side having enough penetration to hurt the Parisians.
The visitors will line-up with all-Brazilian back-four of Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Maxwell and Marquinhos and that’s led to three successive clean sheets for Laurent Blanc’s men. PSG have W15-D8-L2 of their last 25 Ligue 1 games and I’m certain they’ll be ready for the big occasion.
PSG have won six of their last 10 away games to top-six sides and only suffered two defeats in nine matches against Lyon. Yes, they’ve bagged just two wins in 20 away to the fallen French giants but they look a little on the large side to pocket three points from what could be this season’s title decider.
Bastia v Metz – Bastia to win (5/4 William Hill)
Montpellier v Lille – Montpellier to win (5/4 BetVictor)
Lyon v PSG – PSG to win (5/4 Betfred)
Is Mark barking up the wrong tree? Will Lyon take down the French champions?
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