LOOKING for the best Ligue 1 betting analysis and tips? French football connoisseur Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his favourite fancies.
Rennes v Lyon | Sunday 20.00 | BT Sport 2
It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Lyon supporters in 2015/16. Following the exceptional season that went before, many fanatical OL fans were hoping/dreaming/praying the fallen French giants would be able to compete consistently alongside all-conquering PSG.
It’s easy to forget that, with five games to play and in the depths of April last year, Lyon were actually topping the Ligue 1 table and giving the capital club a serious run for their money in the title race.
Hubert Fournier’s men were unable to match Les Parisians stride-for-stride this time around but as the players made their way off for the international break in early November, Les Gones were sitting second in Ligue 1 having W7-D4-L2. Sure, there first 14 weeks were far from exceptional, but the club remained on course for another top-three finish.
However, a terrible downturn in performance levels (W1-D2-L7) and injuries contributed to Fournier’s sacking and Lyon sliding down to 10th in the standings. Bruno Génésio was handed the reigns and given the opportunity to rejuvenate ailing OL.
It wasn’t a quick fix but finally we seem to be seeing the old Lyon return. Les Gones dished out PSG’s first domestic defeat of the season with a rampant, polished, all-action performance and their 5-1 demolition of Guingamp last weekend cemented their position back in the top-three following a W5-D0-L1 return.
Maxwell Cornet is now being talked about in the same breadth as Karim Benzema – a former Lyon youth product – and with Alexandre Lacazette now relishing his more expressive role in Les Gones attack; it’s difficult to see the upward curve dipping again under the calming influence of Génésio.
For all the positivity, OL remain vulnerable visitors on domestic duty. Les Gones have W2-D3-L7 of their last 12 away Ligue 1 road trips, only beating rock-bottom Troyes and bang out-of-form Angers along the way.
Lyon have fired blanks in five of their most recent eight away days and conceded the opening goal in eight of their last 11. It’s concerning and enough reason to put a big black mark through an away success here.
Rennes have found solace under the leadership of Rolland Courbis and last weekend’s 4-1 derby destruction of Nantes was a real standout success.
Les Rouges et Noirs were clinical in the final third with young prodigy Ousmane Dembele hitting a hat-trick. Alongside Chelsea loanee Jeremie Boga, Rennes boast a collection of talented and attack-minded youngsters who’ll relish the occasion as they bid to enhance a recent W3-D0-L1 run.
It’s an important showdown in the race for European qualification positions and Rennes’ new-found resistance should stand them in good stead.
Les Rouges et Noirs have suffered just 4/14 (29%) home defeats this term and only 10/33 (30%) since the beginning of 2014/15 at their Roazhon Park home so there is value with keeping the hosts onside. However, Lyon have looked electric of late and should be able to contribute to an enjoyable game.
I’d fancy Les Gones to grab at least one goal – they’ve struck twice in five of their last six and their new 4-3-3 formation has added pace, rhythm and confidence to the ranks – but Both Teams To Score is going to be my weapon of choice.
Although the stats don’t point us strongly in the right direction, the two teams have accumulatively scored in 45 of their 58 fixtures and only eight of their collective 28 matches home/away have featured clean sheets – that’s good enough for me to invest in the 10/11 (Coral) on BTTS.
Toulouse v Bordeaux | Saturday 19.00
Toulouse are looking down and out in their battle for Ligue 1 survival but the club officials have refused to down tools and went out of their way to appoint Pascal Dupraz as their new boss in the hope of inspiring a great escape.
Unfortunately for Les Pitchouns, Dupraz suffered a heart scare prior to his first game in charge against Marseille last Sunday, spending several days in hospital as a result. The suggestion is, he’ll be able to lead his men from the touchline this weekend and the noises are positive about him limited impact thus far.
A former striker, Dupraz is an attack-minded coach and will want his team to play on the offensive; after all, TFC don’t really have any option but to go for it in their battle against relegation.
On Saturday night, Dupraz has a full squad to pick from and will have been encouraged when viewing the tape of last Sunday’s creditable draw at Marseille. With Martin Braithwaite named the new club captain and a Derby de la Garonne ahead, it’s now or never for the hosts.
Star striker Wissam Ben Yedder – he’s netted seven of Les Pitchouns’ past eight goals and is their second-ever top goal-getter in Ligue 1 – might be leaving in the summer but he’ll be as keen as any to put on a show here.
Toulouse have accrued their second lowest points tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1994 and are winless in nine (W0-D3-L6). As hosts, TFC have managed just a solitary success in 13 (W1-D7-L5) so it would be wrong to plump for a home win.
However, I’m keen to get goals onside, especially the 19/20 from 888 on Both Teams To Score as Bordeaux arrive.
Les Girondins are in their own rut with Willy Sagnol’s side managing just W1-D2-L3 in their last five. The travellers have managed just W2-D8-L8 on their travels and failed to keep their sheets clean in 12 away from their south-western base.
Les Marine et Blanc are out of the major European race following a 1-1 draw Gazalec last weekend as a late equaliser cost the club maximum points. Centre-half Pablo returned from an injury layoff in that encounter and appeared distinctly off the pace.
It’s certainly not an ideal scenario for a Bordeaux side that prefers to play on the front foot. And with Sagnol’s squad already missing Mathieu Debuchy, Grégory Sertic, Robin Maulun, Cédric Carrasso, Nicolas Maurice-Belay, Jaroslav Plasil and Nicolas Pallois this weekend, it’s difficult to see the guests shutting Toulouse out.
As hosts this season, Toulouse have only failed to net twice and that’s led to 11/14 (79%) of their Ligue 1 matches on home soil featuring winning BTTS bets. Include last season’s results that figure stands at 24/33 (73%).
Bordeaux have only fired four blanks on the road this term and with a haphazard backline, it’s no surprise to see Les Girondins involved in 9/14 (64%) of Both Teams To Score duels when playing away. Go back to the beginning of 2014/15 and that stat extends to 19/33 (58%).
So whether we take 2015/16’s trends or indeed the longer-term form, these two boast strong Both Teams To Score stats. In fact, going on the above records, odds of 4/6 would be a much more accurate price for Saturday night’s encounter.
I shan’t complain, mind. Instead, I’ll gobble up the 19/20 on offer at 888 and it's also my European NAP.
Bastia v Lille | Saturday 19.00
It’s back-to-back goalless draws at the Stade de Furiani for Bastia now after Nantes departed Corsica having shared the spoils with the islanders in an uneventful encounter. Having suggested François Ciccolini’s side were decent Draw No Bet value, I wasn’t too displeased.
Bastia left several key players on the bench on Wednesday but the likes of Yannick Cahuzac, Julian Palmieri, Floyd Ayité and Sébastien Squillaci are all expected to feature from the off here as the Turchini look to keep their faint hopes of European qualification alive.
This campaign has been another rollercoaster ride for their fanatical fans but Bastia remain rock solid, supremely organised and ridiculously efficient at their atmospheric home – only PSG (36) and Lyon (30) have picked up more points than the Corsicans’ tally of 29 this term and since the start of last season the Turchini have returned W17-D9-L8 as hosts.
Sure, they’re a little timid in the offensive phase but having silenced 13 of their 29 opponents, ground out five consecutive shutouts and boasting a goalkeeper in Jean-Louis Leca that’s kept his sheets clean for 546 minutes on home soil, you’re always going to be in with a chance.
In all, 10 visitors to the Stade Armand Cesari have failed to score this season and take out results against the top-two in (PSG and Monaco) and Bastia have returned W9-D2-L2 figures at their island base. Outstanding.
This weekend Lille pitch up and Les Dogues have managed just one victory on their travels all season – that came against rock-bottom Troyes. So how on earth can the northerners be considered pre-match favourites here? It’s astounding.
Bastia will be quite happy to hand over the initiative to Frédéric Antonetti’s troops before hitting them hard and fast on the counter. It’s a tried-and-trusted Turchini method and I’m willing to get it right onside again on Saturday.
Going back to the beginning of 2014/15, Lille have collected just W6-D12-L15 in their games as guests, failing to even score in 15/33 (45%). Their 2-0 victory over Reims last time out flattered the visitors and although they boast a tight defence themselves – four clean sheets in six, only PSG shipping fewer goals – Sebastian Corchia’s absence does weaken their backline a bit.
Rather than take Bastia in the Draw No Bet at a ridiculous odds-against quote, I’m going to be bold and back the hosts at a wondrous 15/4 (Betway) to win alongside Under 2.5 Goals.
The Corsicans have won ‘to nil’ in eight of their 15 home fixtures this season and seen fewer than three goals on 9/15 (60%) occasions. Including away matches, Bastia’s last 12 have feature Under 2.5 Goals winners with 12/14 (86%) of Lille’s road trips joining them on the Unders list.
To be fair to Les Dogues, they have only suffered four defeats on their travels this term and so with Bastia’s recent penchant for goalless draws, I’ll stick the 0-0 correct score in for cover – collectively it’s banked in 6/29 (21%) of their home/away matches, implying odds of just under 4/1 – it’s an 11/2 play with William Hill.
Toulouse v Bordeaux – Both Teams To Score (19/20 888)
Bastia v Lille – Bastia to win and Under 2.5 Goals (15/4 BetVictor)
Bastia v Lille – 0-0 correct score (11/2 William Hill)
Rennes v Lyon – Both Teams To Score (10/11 Coral)
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