MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) shares his final European NAP of the season with Ligue 1 the focus on Saturday night.
PSG v Nantes | Saturday 20.00
It seems like an age ago that PSG were crowned Ligue 1 champions, again.
It was mid-March (for the record) but Les Parisians will only lift the trophy this weekend when Nantes arrive at the Parc des Princes for what’s likely to be a punishing evening in the capital for the Canaries.
For the second successive season Les Rouge-et-Bleu are odds-on to seal the French domestic treble with the league and Coupe de la Ligue already secured before a date with old foes Marseille next weekend in the Coupe de France final.
Bar the disappointment of exiting the Champions League at the quarter-final stage, it’s been another successful season in Paris and head coach Laurent Blanc has challenged his side to finish their Ligue 1 campaign with a flurry.
Les Rouge-et-Bleu have amassed the most points in a single Ligue 1 campaign this term, while Angel Di Maria’s return of 16 assists is also a new benchmark in the French top-flight.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 36th Ligue 1 goal in 30 games this season in the midweek draw with Bordeaux leaving the legendary Swede just one goal short of Carlos Bianchi’s record of 37 league goals in a season for PSG.
Zlatan limped off with a minor calf problem in that match but is expected to play a part in what will be his final home appearances for the club before departing this summer, whilst Blaise Matuidi is also close to a comeback.
Despite that 1-1 stalemate with Bordeaux, PSG have actually put in some of their most convincing performances since taking the title, accumulating 16 points from a possible 21. Les Parisians are playing with more freedom, creating more chances and scoring more goals.
The hosts have racked up 14 goals in their last three matches at the Parc des Princes and having beaten Nantes in each of their last eight league meetings, scoring 24 goals in the process, another heavy home win looks likely.
PSG have W30-D7-L1 in their last 38 home outings and during Blanc’s reign, the hosts have W44-D10-L2 in the capital. A huge 38/56 (68%) of those fixtures saw Les Rouge-et-Bleu win by a margin of at least two goals with 23/56 (41%) triumphs claimed by three or more goals.
So backing a repeat on Saturday night looks the obvious option with the 13/16 (BetVictor) available on the hosts overcoming a -1.5 Asian Handicap hurdle making most appeal. The odds suggest a 55% chance of success but as we’ve seen in the paragraph above, the capital club are routinely accustomed to beating this handicap.
Opponents Nantes were the better side when going down 2-1 against Caen last weekend but the Canaries have been in holiday mode for some time now with the squad looking exhausted. The visitors have claimed just four points from a possible 21 and have suffered 11 losses at 13 top-six clubs.
Moreover, Nantes have won just two of their past 11 top-flight matches to meander into the bottom-half of the Ligue 1 table with this encounter marking the last for head coach Michel Der Zakarian, who will hand the reigns to Rene Girard for next season.
The way these two teams have been performing in recent weeks, it should be a hugely one-sided affair and I’m more than happy to dig deep and throw my weight and wagers behind PSG delivering at least a two-goal victory.
PSG v Nantes – PSG -1.5 Asian Handicap (13/16 BetVictor)