EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) is chasing a fourth consecutive European NAP winner on Sunday night as France's two leading lights cross swords in Paris.
PSG v Lyon | Sunday 7th October 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
Paris Saint-Germain are bracing themselves for their toughest test of the domestic season so far as they welcome Lyon to the Parc des Princes in a heavyweight contest on Sunday evening.
It has been a serene start to the campaign for Thomas Tuchel's troops, who last week equalled the record for the longest winning run at the beginning of a Ligue 1 season (W8-D0-L0) when they rolled over Nice 3-0 at the Allianz Riviera.
PSG have now matched the record set in 1936, and are now hoping to break that mark this weekend. Les Parisians are also scoring goals for fun, notching at least three times in all eight league outings – across all competitions this term, their goals tally stands at a barely believable 39.
The capital club routed Red Star Belgrade 6-1 in the Champions League in midweek, with Neymar netting a hat-trick. The hosts generated an eye-boggling 6.41 Expected Goals, firing in 34 efforts, 18 on-target and 27 from inside the penalty area, with Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe also in breathtaking form.
Lyon’s inconsistent campaign
Lyon have already won at record-breaking Premier League champions Manchester City, as well as putting four goals past Marseille, and Bruno Genesio's exciting – if unpredictable – side are capable of beating their French counterparts on their day.
Les Gones do tend to reserve their best performances for the biggest matches but away fans have been left frustrated by an inconsistent opening to the campaign. OL have already lost to Reims and Nice, drawn with crisis-hit Nantes and failed to beat nine-man Caen, to leave them trailing by eight points in PSG’s wake.
On Tuesday night, Lyon struggled to get going against Shakhtar Donetsk in a behind closed doors encounter. The Ukrainians took advantage to pick up a precious 2-2 draw and Genesio was displeased by his team’s efforts as they conceded 16 shots and 2.48 xG on home soil.
The seven-time champions are now unbeaten in six but the lack of leadership in the middle of the park has been blamed for their on-off performances. Les Gones do boast great quality in forward areas, although Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore have also been blowing hot and cold; nevertheless, the threat is real.
An alternative Asian Handicap approach
Lyon will certainly be encouraged by PSG missing both Adrien Rabiot and Lass Diarra in midfield. Tuchel is likely to opt to bring in Marquinhos to the hosts’ holding role alongside Marco Verratti and that’s an area of concern defensively with Paris already leaking goals in seven of 11 games in all competitions.
So while Les Parisians have won all eight of their domestic encounters by at least a two-goal margin, produced an aggregate 20-3 success rate on home soil this season and won half of their past 10 tussles against top-six opposition in the capital by two goals or more, I’m happy to swerve the -1.5 Asian Handicap line.
PSG to score in both halves
Instead, the 4/5 (William Hill) available on the defending champions scoring in both halves is a much more appealing play. Considering PSG are just 4/9 to win in a match featuring Over 1.5 Goals, and 2/7 to score twice or more on Sunday night, this alternative angle of attack is just too good to ignore.
As already mentioned, PSG have scored three or more goals in all eight Ligue 1 matches under Tuchel, won each of their past seven when welcoming Lyon – scoring twice or more on every occasion – and Les Parisians are averaging 2.50 goals per-game when welcoming top-six sides here since 2016/17.
In a similar sample, Lyon have silenced only one of their past 10 top-six hosts, conceding on average 1.70 goals per-game. Les Gones leaked twice in four of their five trips to Ligue 1’s leading lights last term and have kept their sheets clean in only three of their past 15 away days in the league.
What’s more, over the past two campaigns, PSG have struck in the first-half in 69% of their Parc des Princes contests, as well as 83% after the interval. Meanwhile, Lyon have conceded a goal in 45% of their first-half encounters in the same timeframe, and in 45% of games after the break.
PSG v Lyon – PSG to score in both halves (4/5 William Hill)