MARK O’Haire’s (@MarkOHaire) European NAP is back in business. His first port of call is a trip to Ligue 1.
Nice v Caen | Saturday 19.00
Nice have taken just a point from their first two Ligue 1 encounters and Claude Puel will no doubt be frustrated with such a poor return. Les Aiglons displayed plenty of craft and guile when going down to Monaco 2-1 on the opening weekend before squandering a 3-1 lead against newly-promoted Troyes last Saturday night.
New signing Hatem Ben Arfa has already looked at home on the French Riviera alongside fellow forwards Valere Germain and Alassane Plea and Nice now look a serious beast when going forward. The hosts have netted in 13 of their past 14 league fixtures whilst Plea has been involved in three of their four already this season.
Unfortunately for Puel though, Les Aiglons have looked less than impressive at the back. Nice have been hampered by a bout of injuries with the likes of Romain Genevois, Niklas Hult, Mathieu Bodmer, Mahamane Traoré and Simon Pouplin all sidelined. Jordan Amavi’s yet to be replaced and the home side may well field an experimental defence for Saturday night’s match.
With France a traditionally a low-scoring league, both the hosts and this weekend’s opponents Caen buck that trend and I’m hopeful the two can serve up an entertaining encounter that sees Both Teams Score (8/9 888 Sport). It’s a bet that’s won in 13/20 (65%) of Nice’s matches at their Allianz Riviera home since the start of last season and in 12/20 (60%) of Caen’s road trips across the same span.
The visitors have snatched 1-0 victories over Marseille and Toulouse in their first two fixtures but SMC’s goal led a charmed life in both outings. Patrice Garande’s men are slightly fortunate to have posted back-to-back wins ‘to nil’ and head south without the services of left-back Emmanuel Imorou and centre-back Alaeddine Yahia, weakening an already wobbly backline.
Still, former Wigan forward Andy Delort has looked sharp leading the visitors forward line that’s failed to net in only six of their past 32 matches. Caen have only shut their opposition out in four away days since promotion back to the top-flight but managed to score in 15/20 and will expect to continue that streak against a Nice side that’s collected six clean sheets since September 2014.
Nice v Caen – Both Teams To Score (8/9 888 Sport)
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