EUROPEAN football expert Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Tuesday night's Ligue 1 fixture between Dijon and Monaco.
Dijon v Monaco | Tuesday 20:00 | BT Sport 2
The 2016/17 football season is flying by – it’s hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner and it’s quite remarkable to see a Ligue 1 side are topping the goalscoring charts across Europe’s top-five leagues.
Yes, Monaco’s outstanding 3.07 goals per-game tally (43 in 14 league games) is better than Real Madrid (2.77 goals per-game), Barcelona (2.54 goals per-game), Liverpool (2.46 goals per-game), Roma (2.36 goals per-game), Bayern Munich (2.17 goals per-game) and fellow French outfit PSG (2.00 goals per-game).
Those who saw Les Rouges et Blancs dispatch Spurs 2-1 last midweek will know Leonardo Jardim’s built a side armed to attack and having already secured their Champions League knockout status, the principality club went and tonked Marseille 4-0 at the weekend.
Monaco created plenty in the final third as they claimed a fifth successive victory across all competitions and their season-to-date record is making very attractive viewing after 23 fixtures – W16-D4-L3. In 15 (65%) of those outings Tuesday’s visitors have notched at least twice and in 10 (43%) they’ve managed to score three goals or more.
If we take purely Ligue 1 games into account, Les Rouges et Blancs have smashed 30 goals in their last eight encounters since a shock 4-0 loss at Nice, only Lyon and PSG are firing in more efforts on goal from inside the opposition penalty box with Jardim’s charges average 2.43 major goalscoring opportunities per-game.
Saturday’s stroll against Marseille lifted AS to within a point of table-topping Nice and I’d fully expect the guests to take top spot on Tuesday night with a win at Dijon.
The betting angle
Monaco have won 23/45 (51%) of Ligue 1 away days under Jardim and we can boost the price from odds-on quotes to a generous 7/5 (Paddy Power) by adding in Over 1.5 Goals – it means we’ll make money should the visitors win by any score other than 1-0.
Les Rouges et Blancs have seen 11 of their last 12 league contests feature Over 2.5 Goals and there’ll be a wee defensive reshuffle as Jardim rests and rotates his squad. Benjamin Mendy (banned) and Jemerson (rested) will swap out with Andrea Raggi moving to left-back and Abdou Diallo partnering Kamil Glik at centre-half.
Elsewhere, Almamy Toure could come in for Djibril Sidibe whilst Thomas Lemar, Kylian Mbappe and Joao Moutinho will all be hoping for a recall with Jardim promising to “change between three or four players” for this game.
Selection woes for Dijon
But don’t fret; hosts Dijon are in serious selection strife for Tuesday’s showdown.
Head coach Olivier Dall'Oglio has a host of defensive concerns after both Cedric Varrault and Fouad Chafik were forced off through injury in their agonising 3-2 loss at Bordeaux on Saturday night. Les Chouettes (The Owls) were heading for a first away triumph of the campaign before conceding two goals in the dying embers of that encounter.
Those aforementioned backline quandaries mean Dall’Oglio is considering moving away from his preferred 3-5-2 formation for this fixture. But the hosts also have a collection of midfielders absent too – experienced Florent Balmont and Marvin Martin remain sidelined and now summer signing Mehdi Abeid has joined them on the treatment table.
Dijon regularly dominated
Dijon are unbeaten in six at their Stade Gaston Gerard base since their first outing since promotion (W3-D3-L1) but having shipped seven goals in their last three matches – as many they had in their previous seven – you have to doubt their capability to keep sharp-shooting Monaco quiet.
Only Metz have returned a high expected goals against record this term, their shots in the box supremacy is the lowest in Ligue 1 (Dijon’s shots take from inside the penalty box minus their shots conceded from inside the penalty box) as no club has faced more and only Metz have posted a lower shot ratio return.
All in all, I’d like to think I’ve made a pretty convincing case to continue siding with Monaco this midweek and at a very appetising price too.
Dijon v Monaco – Monaco to win and Over 1.5 Goals (7/5 Paddy Power)