MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Tuesday night’s continental action from Ligue 1 and Serie A.
Monaco v Bastia | Tuesday 18.00 | BT Sport 2
Monaco fell to a convincing 3-0 defeat against fellow Champions League-chasing Angers at the weekend with Leonardo Jardim’s men barely putting up a fight.
Considering the style and swagger they displayed a week earlier when taking Toulouse apart (4-0), it was a puzzling performance. The loss meant Les Rouge et Blanc failed to put a six-point gap between themselves and their main competitors for a top-two finish.
The principality club have now conceded more goals in their first 23 Ligue 1 games of the season (28) than in the entirety of their 2014/15 campaign (28). Nevertheless, I’m willing to override that stat and get stuck into a home win and Under 2.5 Goals at 19/10 with Betway.
Jardim’s unlikely to make drastic changes with a number of injury issues still needing to be resolved. And in recent weeks, Monaco have shown their teeth when hosting league action at the Stade Louis II once more.
The hosts have taken 14 points from a possible 18 in front of their home supporters (W4-D2-L0), keeping their sheets clean in all four victories. Indeed, Les Rouge et Blanc have now shutout their opposition in four of their previous five and are capable of doing so against terrible travellers Bastia.
The Corsicans secured a fortuitous but much-needed win against Lyon on Saturday night in François Ciccolini's debut as head coach. The triumph moved Les Blues five points clear of the drop-zone, alleviating some of the growing pressure on the club.
It was a backs-against-the-wall display with Brandao grabbing the all-important winner as Bastia looked to play on the break having defended for their lives. But whilst their form on the island is formidable, they’re yet to win on the road this term (W0-D4-L7).
In fact, the visitors have fired blanks in six of their last eight away days and notched just five goals across their 11 as guests. They’ve posted a pathetic 26.56 shots-on-target ratio on the road and the injury and suspension problems that dogged their selection on Saturday has shown little sign of clearing.
Defenders Gilles Cioni, Alexander Djiku and Florian Marange, midfielders Yohan Cahuzac and Seko Fofana and winger Floyd Ayite are all absent for Bastia this weekend. Francois Modesto does return but it’s still quite a bleak picture for a club that’s lost 18/30 (60%) on their travels since the start of last season.
Head-to-head fans will like the sound of Monaco's recent seven match winning streak against their Tuesday guests and in 25 previous league matches between the two at the Stade Louis II, the hosts have enjoyed a W20-D5-L0 return.
Monaco’s home league record since Jardim took charge is a mediocre W12-D14-L4 but they should have more than enough in their locker against a side that’s lost by two or more goals in 11 of those aforementioned 18 losses.
Across the same samples, Under 2.5 Goals has proven a winner in 22/30 (73%) of Monaco’s home outings and the same figure when viewing Bastia’s away record so the likelihood of a runaway home success remains slim.
Sassuolo v Roma | Tuesday 19.45 | BT Sport Europe
Returning Roma coach Luciano Spalletti guided the Giallorossi to victory on Saturday evening against lowly Frosinone and has now set his sights on back-to-back wins when the Wolves visit Sassuolo.
Looking laboured under the stewardship of Rudi Garcia, a pair of new signings combined to help Roma return to winning ways. Ervin Zukanovic supplied the cross, but it was Stephan El Shaarawy who produced the magic – beating the keeper with a backheel volley on the turn for the Giallorossi’s second goal.
However, despite their victory against the Canarini, Spalletti has seen his injury list increase with Lucas Digne the latest player on the Roma treatment table. He will be joining fellow absentees Vasilis Torosidis, Alessandro Florenzi and Maicon, leaving the Giallorossi short at the back.
Sassuolo boss Eusebio Di Francesco has injury issues of his own. Emanuel Terranova, a long term absentee, was recently joined by Simone Missiroli and Antonio Floro Flores on the sidelines. Davide Biondini and Diego Falcinelli should therefore continue for the Neroverdi.
The hosts are without a win in four (W0-D2-L2) and kept just one clean sheet in 10 as they've gradually started to slip away from European qualification contention. But their strong record at the Mapei Stadium – one loss in 10 Serie A fixtures – confirms they’re far from an easy nut to crack.
So with both sides missing a number of players, I’m going to dive into the goals markets with Coral’s 19/20 on Both Teams To Score standing out. It’s a selection that’s won in 7/10 (70%) of Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium outings and 7/11 (64%) of Roma’s road trips this term.
And it’s a trend that’s remained strong since the start of last season with 19/29 (66%) BTTS winners for the Neroverdi as hosts and 18/30 (60%) of the Giallorossi’s away matches.
Taking both samples into account, the probability of a repeat on Tuesday night is around the 63%-65% mark. The implied odds of that percentage chance is about the 4/7 mark so the 19/20 on offer is big value.
Montpellier v Marseille | Tuesday 20.00 | BT Sport 2
Marseille overcame Montpellier 2-0 in the Coupe de France just a fortnight ago and look underrated to do the business against the same opposition this midweek.
Antoine Rabillard's injury-time equaliser against Lille on Friday night gave Michel’s men an undeserved point as home supporters grew even more disillusioned and frustrated with L'OM’s Stade Velodrome form. But Les Phocéens are grinding out results of late.
Hopes of Champions League qualification are reducing but even so, Marseille have now lost just once since mid-October (W10-D9-L1) and that includes an excellent W7-D3-L0 on their travels across all competitions.
With Le Classique scheduled for this weekend, the visitors will hope to arrive in good nick. Michy Batshuayi is suspended but Florian Thauvin may feature after re-signing on loan whilst Steve Mandanda and Romain Alessandrini are also fit to return to the ranks.
Even without Batshuayi, L'OM have quality, craft and composure in Remy Cabella and Georges-Kévin N'Koudou to hurt a Montpellier side that’s lost three of their last four at their Stade de la Mosson home and are without suspended defender Daniel Congre.
To be fair to the home side, Frédéric Hantz experienced a dream start to life as Montpellier head coach as his new club came back from GFC Ajaccio with all three points following an impressive 4-0 win. It moved MHSC out of the relegation zone but one swallow certainly doesn’t make a summer.
Hantz has revealed his intention to stick with his 4-4-2 diamond formation here but with five defeats in their most recent seven, I’ll need convincing Montpellier are anywhere clear to being out of the woods yet.
Opposing the hosts is the sensible solution and with Marseille available at 21/20 (BetVictor) in the Draw No Bet market, we’ll only lose our stake if the hosts bag an unexpected win.
Monaco v Bastia – Monaco to win and Under 2.5 Goals (19/10 Betway)
Sassuolo v Roma – Both Teams To Score (19/20 Coral)
Montpellier v Marseille – Marseille draw no bet (21/20 BetVictor)
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