European NAP: Raise a glass to the class of Champagne

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EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) is heading to France for his next best bet from the continent.

Toulouse v Reims | Sunday 10th February 2019, 14:00

Reims were runaway champions in Ligue 2 last term and returned to the top-flight of French football this season for the first time since 2015/16. Stade’s success was largely built upon a dour defence that conceded only 29 times in 38 matches en-route to Ligue 1, and the Champagne region club have followed the same well-organised approach in 2018/19.

Under the astute stewardship of David Guion, Reims have continually upset the odds to perch themselves inside the top-half of the table. Remarkably, the newly-promoted outfit have been beaten only five times – three of which came against teams occupying berths in the top-five, just three points adrift of the top-four.

Stade’s efforts were epitomised last weekend when the relative minnows toppled big-spending Marseille at their atmospheric Stade Auguste Delaune base. The competitive outfit have only twice been beaten since September, whilst only four clubs have scored more than a solitary strike against Guion’s group.

Reims can avoid defeat

The Champagne side are likely to be broken up in the summer, but with youngsters such as Remi Oudin and Mathieu Cafaro finding their feet, Reims remain a compelling side to watch at the moment and have to be supported to avoid defeat when they travel to Toulouse on Sunday afternoon.

Only PSG (5.24) and Montpellier (5.36) are facing fewer shots from inside the penalty box than the visitors (5.43), with the same pair only bettering Reims’ record of giving up 1.01 Expected Goals (xG) per-game. Looking purely at xG from open play, no Ligue 1 team can match Stade’s outstanding 0.54 conceded figure per-game.

Across the three major metrics – shots in the box, xG and xG from open play – Reims boast a better than 50% ratio return and they’re coming up against a Toulouse side that’s flattered to deceive for quite some time now.

Toulouse toiling

The hosts head into this showdown having claimed only six victories in 2018/19 – three of which arrived before September’s international break – taking maximum points just twice on home soil this term (W2-D4-L4). Meanwhile, Les Pitchouns have scored twice or more in only four of their past 19 league outings.

Those figures are backed up by uninspiring performance data numbers. Les Violets are averaging the fourth-fewest attempts from inside the penalty area and their 0.60 xG from open play per-game figure is the fifth worst in the division. What’s more, Toulouse rank second-bottom for shot ratio and fourth from the bottom for on-target ratio.

Les Pitchouns inconsistent campaign took another turn last weekend as TFC became the first side to suffer defeat away to Monaco. Alain Casanova's charges rallied for a route back but were unable to find an equaliser to leave them marooned in lower mid-table ahead of this awkward encounter.

The betting angle

Having earmarked Reims as a potential punt here, I’m keen to explore Bet365’s Bet Builder by supporting the guests in the Double Chance market alongside Under 4 Goals.

Essentially, we’ll make money at 8/11 should the underrated away side avoid defeat in 0-0 or 1-1 draws, as well as 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 victories – scorlines that would have provided profit in 17 (74%) of their 23 matches since promotion.

Collectively, the duo have seen only 8/46 (17%) of their combined games feature more than four goals.

Best Bets

Toulouse v Reims – Reims double chance and Under 4 Goals (8/11 Bet365)

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About Author

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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