MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP returns on Saturday with France's Ligue 1 in focus.
Dijon v Caen | Saturday 1st September 2018, 19:00
Dijon have made their best ever start to a Ligue 1 season having taken maximum points from their opening three games. The Mustards are the only side to be keeping pace alongside PSG, having notched eight goals in victories over Montpellier (2-1), Nantes (2-0) and Nice (4-0).
Olivier Dall'Oglio’s side benefitting from a disastrous final half hour’s defending from Patrick Vieira’s under-fire Nice outfit last weekend. Of course, the schedule has been relatively kind on the Burgundy boys but even so, Dijon have been delivering very impressive and dominant displays.
Saturday night’s hosts are operating off a 73% Expected Goals from open play ratio thus far and with a return to their Stade Gaston Gerard base, I’m very keen to have them onside here at even-money (BetVictor). In fact, they’re my best bet of the 2018/19 campaign.
Dijon have delivered match-winning profit in 12 of their last 20 Ligue 1 games as hosts and have proven clinical against bottom-half dwellers. The Mustards have W12-D3-L1 when entertaining teams outside of France’s top-four since the start of last season.
Struggling Caen to be rolled over
This weekend they welcome a Caen side I’ve backed for relegation. SMC survived last season by the skin of their teeth – they finished one point above the drop-zone following a run of seven defeats in 10 winless matches to conclude the campaign.
Head coach Patrice Garande left after six years in charge in the summer and the incumbent Fabien Mercadal stepped in for his first taste of Ligue 1 action. The visitors also lost five of their first-choice starting XI, including top goalscorer Ivan Santini and centre-half captain Damien Da Silva.
Goals were a real struggle for Caen. The Normandy club tabled just 27 last term – comfortably the lowest in the league – and they fired blanks in 11 (59%) of their away days, losing on 13 (68%) occasions.
SMC were well beaten by PSG on the opening day and have since picked up a point apiece from encounters against Nantes and Nice. However, both goals arrived from the penalty spot and Mercadal’s men were out-shot 15-2 when hosting Nantes last weekend.
The strugglers are averaging less than 0.2 xG from open play in their first three fixtures and I can only foresee a relegation battle for Caen ahead. And so I’m more than happy to get against them on Saturday night.
Dijon v Caen – Dijon to win (1/1 BetVictor)