Brest v Troyes | Saturday 12th January 2019, 14:00
A top half encounter between two teams that have aspirations of playing alongside the likes of Paris Saint-German, Lyon and Marseille in Ligue 1 next season face-off on Saturday afternoon. Brest enter this contest certainly as the favourites considering they are situated second in the French second tier, just three points behind league leaders Metz.
Troyes are aiming for an instant return to Ligue 1 after relegation last season. They started the campaign poorly but picked things up in October and November to now leave them only three points off the play-off positions.
The market has priced this contest quite fairly. As mentioned, Brest do sit second in the table and they also hold the best home record in the division. Jean-Marc Furlan’s side has made their home base something of a fortress this season, winning seven out of ten, losing just the once. Another tick in their column is that no other side has scored more goals than they have this season. Attack is certainly their best form of defence.
Troyes to their credit aren’t exactly short of goals themselves. Only three other teams, including Brest, have netted more than they have done this season. If the league table was based purely on the last ten games, Troyes would be second, with Brest in third. It is fair to say two in-form sides will collide on Saturday and it is likely to be tough to separate the two. This has been a regular fixture over the years. Almost all of them have been close contests. The last nine head-to-head delivers the following scores: 1-2, 1-0, 2-1, 2-1, 1-0, 0-2, 1-1, 2-1, 2-1 and 0-0. History therefore suggests this won’t necessarily be any different, although there is an angle to take which suggests that this should be quite entertaining.
We’ve touched upon the fact that both teams like to be among the goals, certainly in terms of scoring. Brest have experienced 2.80 goals in their matches this season, with 10/19 ending above the 2.50 goal line. That number reduces to 2.40 for Troyes, with 12/19 ending below the same line. Brest however don’t necessarily pride themselves on clean sheets. Although they have earned exactly that in their last two at home, only 3/10 clean sheets at home isn’t bombproof. Only twice in the league has Troyes failed to score away as well.
Both teams are on quite a productive run in terms of scoring goals. It is nine games running that Brest has scored at home, and six in a row for Troyes netting on the road. Whilst those runs will end at some stage, there is no reason to suggest that cannot continue this weekend. It is the sort of game where both will play to win, even Troyes, rather than to avoid defeat. Brest concede all of their goals at home in the first half, 100% of them, so Troyes might look to start brightly in this one. Both Teams To Score is available at 1/1 (William Hill). With the scoring run of both sides, there is every chance this evens shot appears quite generous.
Sporting CP v Porto | Saturday 12th January 2019, 15:30
Two of the big three in Portugal go head-to-head on Saturday, and it is Porto who hold a clear
advantage going into the 17th round of fixtures in the Primeira Liga. Porto hold a six-point lead at the top of the standings, and they’re one of the form teams in world football at present. You have to go all the way back to October for the last time they failed to win any game in both league and cup, domestically or on the European stage. Every match has been a win since that narrow loss in Benfica, but that suggests that the away games versus the likes of Sporting and Benfica are anything but routine. Form can often count for very little heading into a match like this.
That is exactly what Sporting will be hoping going into the weekend at least. They’re not exactly in terrible form, even if two defeats in four may suggest otherwise. However, they too have been on a great run of form in relation to victories, too. Eleven wins in their last 14 is certainly good going, but they’re still six-points off the league leaders in the Portuguese top flight. Their away record is what has let them down this season, but they’re much more reliable at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.
Sporting in fact are the only team in the league to hold a 100% record at home. The fact that they’ve not faced any of the big clubs, even the likes of Braga, at home may over-exaggerate their record to a degree, but it is still good going nonetheless. Porto have won six of their seven league contests on the road as well, which is the best in the division. However, they are certainly not as prolific away as they are at home. Their last five away wins in all competitions has been by a one-goal margin. They’re certainly made to work hard to win on the road.
Home advantage has counted for a lot in this particular head-to-head meeting. Since 2007, only on four occasions has the official away team won in this battle. They play an awful lot too, and that statistic is simply too notable to be ignored. It will also shock many, considering Porto are the second-most successful club in Portuguese top flight history, that they last won away in Sporting all the way back in 2008. Only five times in this millennium have they won away in Sporting. A draw would often be a good call in a game like this. Normally when two of the big three meet, it is generally low scoring with little to separate the two. That is the notion we’ll continue to back heading into this weekend.
With Porto have quite a horrible away record at this particular venue, we’ll look to go against them this weekend. They are rightly the favourites and whilst they are winning games for fun at this stage, they are not as prolific on the road and that long run will of course end at some stage. Sporting arguably need the points more to maintain any chance of a title push, which already looks a little slim.
We’ve used the Bet365 Bet Builder tool to come up with a nice little play for Saturday. Sporting Double Chance and Under 3 Goals is available at 7/4. There has been two goals or less in 13/21 head-to-head. When focusing just on games where Sporting were the home side, ten of the last eleven has featured a maximum of two goals overall. A tactical battle will certainly play out. It is often a game both are keen not to lose, rather than go out to win.
Brest v Troyes – Both Teams To Score (Evens William Hill)
Sporting CP v Porto – Sporting CP Double Chance and Under 3 Goals (7/4 Bet365)