MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has scoured the Ligue 1 coupon in search of winners. What do you make of his latest batch of French fancies?
Lille v Nice | Saturday 19.00
I opposed Lille last weekend when they went away to Montpellier but big credit to goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama who produced another string of superb stops to help give Les Dogues all three points at Montpellier.
It was Rene Girard’s team’s first away league win since mid-August and although LOSC rode their luck, Nolan Roux and on-loan Manchester City midfielder Marcos Lopes were clinical enough to take their chances following two dreadful lapses in the home defence.
The 2-1 victory means Lille have now W4-D3-L3 in their last 10 Ligue 1 fixtures but it was only the second occasion in 19 that Girard’s charges have scored two goals or more. This weekend they return to their Stade Pierre-Mauroy base where 10 of their last 12 games have featured fewer than three goals and another low-scoring encounter looks likely.
Nice travel north having collected successive goalless draws against Metz and Nantes. It’s certainly put the brakes on their fine start to 2015 (W3-D2-L0) and Les Aiglons' now sit as far from the European qualification places as they do from 16th-placed Lorient.
Like their hosts, Nice remain solid at the back but can lack consistency in front of goal. Last weekend they fired in 19 shots at home to Nantes and missed a few sitters but they’re unlikely to be gifted many gilt-edged opportunities on Saturday night.
Nice have seen Under 2.5 Goals bank in 13/18 away league outings now but with a repeat just 1/2, we need to look elsewhere for a decent runner in the goals markets. So let’s reopen that door to BetBright’s Both Halves Under 1.5 Goals offering with 5/6 on the table. That’s good enough for me.
Lille have already kept eight clean sheets in their 12 Stade Pierre-Mauroy matches this term and seven of those would have also seen us paid out in this particular market. It’s been a similar story in six of Nice’s 11 away days in 2014/15 too whilst it’s also worth noting that 14 of the last 16 meetings between the two teams were settled by two goals or fewer.
Metz v Guingamp | Sunday 16.00 | ESPN
On Sunday, struggling Metz entertain Guingamp and it’s hard not to resist a plunge on the visitors with BetVictor offering a smidgen better than evens (30/29) on Guingamp with a 0 start on the Asian Handicap line (the same as a punt on the Draw No Bet market, we’ll get our cash back if the match ends all square).
EAG were the better side in last week’s 1-1 draw with Monaco despite playing with 10 men for nearly 70 minutes. Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side have now W6-D2-L1 in their last nine Ligue 1 outings (only Lyon have taken more points since December than Guingamp) and in Claudio Beauvue, have one of the league’s most in-form players.
The inseparable duo of Beauvue and Christophe Mandanne should spearhead the visitors attack and with Beauvue having a hand in 50% of his team's goals in Ligue 1 this season (14/28: 11 goals, 3 assists), EAG will be looking to the Frenchman to shoulder their challenge.
Metz were 2-0 losers at Bastia, meaning the rock bottom side have now lost nine of a winless run of 12 matches, failing to score in five of their last six. We can look further back to see they’ve now W1-D4-L11 of their last 16 in Ligue 1 and failed to score on 14 occasions this campaign already.
With goals hard to come by, Metz might need two just to grab a point against a free-scoring Guingamp on Sunday and that’s why I’m happy to invest my faith in the travellers with the added insurance of the draw being kept onside.
Lorient v Lyon | Sunday 20.00 | BT Sport 2
Lyon were thankful to stopper Anthony Lopes in last weekend’s blockbuster against PSG. The Portuguese keeper kept the defending champions at bay to help earn Les Gones a point and keep their position at the top of the league ladder untouched.
But this weekend Hubert Fournier’s team face an altogether different task when they travel to Lorient. The league leaders have W14-D5-L1 in their last 20 Ligue 1 games but they’ve now D3-L2 in their last five league fixtures without top-scorer Alexandre Lacazette.
Lyon must also come to terms with the artificial surface at Lorient’s Stade du Moustoir and it’s a venue many of France’s big guns have found tricky in recent years. With Les Merlus now boasting a W3-D2-L1 record in their last six on home soil, plus the nature of their come-from-behind 3-1 win at Reims last weekend, the hosts will fancy their chances.
Lorient should have African Cup of Nations runner-up Jordan Ayew available for selection again and I fancy them to get a goal in a game that should feature goals at both ends. Sylvain Ripoll’s side have scored in 10 of their previous 11 Ligue 1 outings and Ladbrokes’ offer on 5/6 for Both Teams To Score appeals.
Although Lyon are without Lacazette, they’re also weaker in defence. Christophe Jallet is likely to sit this game out whilst Milan Bisevac remains out of contention. However, Clinton N'Jie and Nabil Fekir proved they were an efficient partnership up top against PSG last Sunday and with Lorient leaking in 18 of their 24 Ligue 1 matches this term, it’s hard to see Fournier’s visitors not getting on the scoresheet.
Lille v Nice – Both Halves to feature Under 1.5 Goals (5/6 BetBright)
Metz v Guingamp – Guingamp 0 Asian Handicap (30/29 BetVictor)
Lorient v Lyon – Both Teams To Score (5/6 Ladbrokes)
Who do you fancy in France this weekend? Has Mark overlooked a better bet on the Ligue 1 coupon?
We’d love to hear your thoughts so let us know in the comments box below.