MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP returns on Sunday with France's Ligue 1 in focus as he bids to pick up a hat-trick of winners.
Lille v Marseille | Sunday 30th September 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
PSG might already be eight points clear at the summit of Ligue 1 but Lille are amongst the chasing pack after clinching four victories from their first seven fixtures (W4-D1-L2), including last weekend’s 2-1 success at home to Nantes.
Les Dogues were undone at Bordeaux in midweek but Christophe Galtier's men are certainly one of the early surprise packages in France having been embroiled in a relegation battle for the majority of last season.
LOSC regrouped in the summer and the early signs suggest the current crop can at least table a cushy mid-table finish with European qualification possible should Galtier's group continue to produce such eye-catching performances.
Lille have been posting an Expected Goals from open play ratio above 70% for the most part of the Ligue 1 campaign – a divisional best – with standout stars such as Nicolas Pepe and summer signing Jonathan Bamba earning rave reviews.
However, before we get too ahead of ourselves, Les Dogues’ only meeting with any side of note came against a Monaco side struggling to find any sort of form. Sunday night’s hosts haven’t faced a current top-six club ahead of their weekend match-up with Marseille.
Defensive personnel absent
The hosts will need to make-do without the suspended Adama Soumaoro in defence and that should encourage a Marseille side that’s remained unbeaten in their past nine encounters with Lille. Nevertheless, L’OM have their own selection concerns to contend with.
Les Phoceens are without banned centre-half Duje Caleta-Car and full-back Jordan Amavi, while Adil Rami remains a major doubt. Should Rami be unavailable, Rudi Garcia will be forced to pair Luiz Gustavo alongside youngster Boubacar Kamara in the heart of Marseille’s defence.
With the visitors shipping at least two goals in five of their seven Ligue 1 games, keeping only six clean sheets on the road since the start of last season, and Lille scoring at least twice in 8/13 (62%) of Stade Pierre-Mauroy matches under Galtier, there are plenty of potential punting options to explore.
The betting angle
With possible tired legs from midweek excursions and patched up backlines, our best form of attack is surely to support Over 2.5 Goals at 8/11 (Betfair) in Sunday night’s showdown. It’s a selection that’s banked in all seven of Marseille’s matches, as well as all three of Lille’s home fixtures thus far.
L’OM’s league games are averaging 4.57 goals per-game this term – three already featuring Over 4.5 Goals – and if we look back at the duos results since the beginning of 2017/18, Over 2.5 Goals has made money in 15/22 (68%) of Lille’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy outings, and 14/22 (64%) of Marseille’s away days.
Therefore, the proposed bet has banked in 29/44 (66%) of their combined Ligue 1 dates. The 8/11 available for a goal-filled game implies a percentage success rate of 58%, suggesting there’s decent value in supporting an entertaining Sunday night encounter from France.
Lille v Marseille – Over 2.5 Goals (8/11 Betfair)