EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) heads to France on Sunday for his latest best bet on the continent.
PSG v Monaco | Sunday 12th January 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
PSG picked up 17 points more than their nearest league rival in 2019 – winning 29 of 39 Ligue 1 fixtures, racking up 98 goals in the process – and Les Parisiens can continue their dominance of French football by swatting Monaco aside comfortably at the Parc des Princes in Sunday evening’s showdown.
Thomas Tuchel’s troops have made the perfect start to 2020, smashing amateur opponents Linas-Montlhery 6-0 in the Coupe de France last weekend before annihilating St Etienne 6-1 in the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals on Wednesday. In the latter encounter, Les Rouge et Bleu fielded all three of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi, as well as Angel Di Maria.
PSG have now taken top honours in each of their last nine domestic outings by an aggregate of 33-5, as well as triumphing in 15 of their 18 Ligue 1 matches thus far. Eleven of those league victories came by a margin of two goals or more, with seven successes delivered by at least three goals. Indeed, no European outfit enjoys such a stranglehold on their division.
The capital club boast a phenomenal 79% Expected Goals (xG) ratio ranking in the French top-flight with their return hitting 82% on the xG metric when only viewing opportunities arising from open play – that’s more than 20% clear of second-best Lyon.
Three of Les Parisiens’ top-five rivals have already been to the Parc des Princes this term and the trio departed pointless, without scoring, and having been beaten by at least two-goals. Meanwhile, under Tuchel’s watch the hosts have W25-D2-L1 in Paris with 20 (71%) games seeing the home side pick up maximum points by more than a solitary strike.
Baptism of fire for Moreno at Monaco
Visitors Monaco made a tumultuous start to the season, continuing their malaise from 2018/19. The principality club failed to triumph in their first six fixtures and were rooted to the relegation places before finally arresting their slump with an upsurge in performances and results from mid-October onwards.
However, Les Monegasques opted to make a change in the dugout before the end of December with Robert Moreno taking over from Leonardo Jardim. It’s the Spaniard’s first gig as a number one in club football and he began his reign with a scratchy Coupe de France win over Reims thanks to a double strike from Keita Balde.
Moreno has used his first weeks at the helm to get to know the Monaco squad and to get across his coaching philosophy, espousing possession football and a vigorous pressing game. Les Rouges et Blancs have moved away from a five-man defence and now look set to line-up in a more orthodox 4-3-3 system but defensive concerns remain.
The betting angle
The past five head-to-heads between these two teams in Paris have ended in five comfortable home victories for PSG via scorelines of 3-1, 4-0, 7-1, 3-0 and 5-0 and it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see Les Parisiens rack up another high-scoring triumph considering the firepower at their disposal on Sunday.
With that in mind, I’m happy to take PSG with a -1.75 Asian Handicap hurdle at 8/11 (Marathon) as my best European bet of the weekend. This selection pays out a full-stakes profit should the hosts win by three or more goals with a half-stakes return enjoyed should the hosts only see off Monaco by exactly two goals.
Since Tuchel arrived, PSG have W8-D0-L1 at home against top-six teams by an aggregate 27-5, scoring an average of 3.38 goals and keeping five clean sheets. The star-studded defending champions should be well capable of producing something similar against a visiting defence that’s allowing the fifth-most open play opportunities in the division.
PSG v Monaco – PSG -1.75 Asian Handicap (8/11 Marathon)