MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP takes him to Ligue 1 on Sunday night as he chases an eighth winner in 10.
Lyon v Monaco | Sunday 20:15 | BT Sport
Monaco’s quest for a first Ligue 1 crown since 2003/04 takes them to Lyon on Sunday evening for arguably the most perilous fixture in their campaign’s conclusion.
Beaten 6-1 here last season, Lyon are also the only side to come away from the Stade Louis II with maximum points in league action this season. But the table-topping visitors couldn’t have picked a better time to face Les Gones.
Lyon have switched their entire focus towards the Europa League with a top-three finish in France out of reach. It means head coach Bruno Genesio will rest and rotate almost his entire side for Sunday evening’s encounter.
Les Gones arrive off mentally exhausting trips in Bastia and Besiktas, the latter of which saw the side book a place in the Europa League semi-finals on penalties. Travelling back from Turkey in the early hours of Friday morning has left the group with little time to prepare.
Even if Genesio did opt to field his big guns, star striker Alexandre Lacazette limped out of the Besiktas game with a hamstring problem and won’t feature at Parc OL with Maxime Gonalons rumoured to be the only outfield player to keep his place here.
The betting angle
The hosts are a full 23 points behind Monaco in the Ligue 1 standings and of course they’re capable of competing should they wish to turn it on but the hard truth is, Lyon are unlikely to be too bothered about the result this weekend.
This selection would see us make money should Monaco avoid defeat, pocketing a half-stakes profit should the match end in a draw and a full-stakes pay-out should Leonardo Jardim’s side collect a victory.
The principality outfit have won each of their last six in Ligue 1, claimed nine triumphs from 10 in domestic action and have W18-D4-L1 since mid-October in league football whilst playing some stunning stuff.
In midweek Les Rouges et Blancs swept aside Dortmund 3-1 to secure a 6-3 aggregate win and a first semi-final berth in the Champions League since they finished runners-up in 2003/04. Nevertheless, the club, players and coach have all reiterated their desire and focus on securing Ligue 1 glory.
Monaco are level on points with PSG with a game in-hand and need to secure a success to ensure their advantage at the top of the table on goal difference. The visitors can ill afford any slip in their final six matches of the season and I expect them to avoid defeat on Sunday night.
Radamel Falcao could be rested but Jardim will pick as close to a first XI as possible and Monaco should be good enough to take advantage of Lyon’s distractions. That’s why I’m making the guests my weekend NAP.
Lyon v Monaco – Monaco +0.25 Asian Handicap (7/10 BetVictor)