IT’S the penultimate week in Ligue 1 and Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) has scanned the French fixtures to bring us the best three bets on the coupon.
Lyon v Bordeaux | Saturday 20.00
It was a defining weekend in France last time out. Lyon’s shock 3-0 loss at Caen, coupled with PSG’s 6-0 romp against Guingamp has all but handed the capital club the Ligue 1 title. Nevertheless, Lyon’s return to the Champions League next season should see a number of their star players commit their future to the club for at least another year.
Dreamy front pairing Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir have both promised to stay at the Stade Gerland for 2015/16 and although morale is likely to be low after last week’s defeat, Hubert Fournier’s charges will be hoping to sign of their season on home soil with a decent display.
Les Gones were 40/1 shots pre-season and deserve huge credit for running PSG close but picking themselves up might not be quite so straightforward against a Bordeaux side gunning for European qualification. Willy Sagnol’s side secured a hugely important win in their final ever outing at the Stade Chaban-Delmas last Saturday, giving Les Marine et Blanc a three-point cushion over Montpellier in seventh.
Securing a place in next season’s Europa League remains high on the agenda for Les Girondins who should pose problems when they venture forward. The visitors’ road record (W5-D6-L7) is far from convincing but their goals return, plus the question marks over Lyon’s mind-set makes a punt on Both Teams To Score at 4/5 with Ladbrokes look a decent port of call.
Bordeaux have netted in 28/36 (78%) Ligue 1 fixtures this term and played their part in 9/18 (50%) BTTS winners on their travels. Hosts Lyon have scored in all bar one of their Stade Gerland outings under Fournier with four of their five matches when welcoming top-seven clubs also banking in the Both Teams To Score column.
Evian v St Etienne | Saturday 20.00
Evian’s crushing 3-2 home defeat to Reims has left Les Roses four points from safety and starring at a return to Ligue 2 after three seasons in the top-flight. Pascal Dupraz’s men went into the game defending an excellent record against their fellow strugglers but were made to pay for their sloppy defending and lack of concentration.
L'ETG are back at their Parc des Sports home this weekend to face St Etienne and it’s difficult to see the hosts bouncing back. Evian have collected 29 of their 37 points against bottom-half dwellers and come up against a Les Verts outfit that crushed Nice 5-0 in their last outing following boss Christophe Galtier's stinging criticism a week earlier.
Galtier’s visitors remain in the hunt for a Champions League qualification place and although they’ve won just twice on the road in 2015, will be looking to enhance their record of W6-D1-L0 when facing the bottom-four and are nicely priced at 19/20 with William Hill to claim maximum points.
Evian have returned horrid W2-D2-L15 figures from their encounters with top-half clubs and have suffered six defeats in their most recent 10 at the Parc des Sports. Requiring a victory to keep their faint survival hopes alive, the home side will need to go looking for the win and that could prove costly against one of France’s best counter-attacking sides. Away win please.
*Reports on Friday afternoon suggested Evian have excluded star man Daniel Wass from the squad for Saturday night's game with a move away from the club looking almost certain this summer. Another negative mark against the hosts.
Lille v Marseille | Saturday 20.00
Lille’s European dreams were all but ended by a late Toulouse comeback last Saturday but Les Dogues could hand out a punishing result for another club chasing continental competition this weekend.
Two late goals saw Marseille clinch a crucial 2-1 victory against Monaco last time out to keep their Champions League hopes alive but a trip to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy is unlikely to be comfortable. OM’s W7-D4-L7 away record is a little deceiving when you take into account recent road results.
Marcelo Bielsa’s visitors have W3-D2-L7 of their most recent 12 fixtures on their travels with all three victories coming against sides in the bottom-five. Les Phocéens were second best against Monaco for the majority of that match and only looked likely winners once Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour went off injured.
So how will they cope against a resolute Lille side? Since boss René Girard took charge at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Les Dogues boast a W28-D8-L5 record in Ligue 1 on home soil, including a W11-D5-L2 return from their 2014/15 games. The season may be up for Lille but I still fancy them to put in a decent performance in their final home game of the season and that’s why backing the hosts +0.25 (7/8 Bet365) in the Asian Handicap market looks the best solution.
With this selection, we’ll win if Lille are victorious on Saturday night. But if the match ends in a draw, half of our stake is returned and the other half is deemed a winner at the 7/8 odds on offer from Bet365. The only way in which we’ll end up empty-handed is if Marseille win their first away fixture at a top-half club under Bielsa.
Lille have triumphed in eight of their last 10 as hosts and with this game probably marking René Girard's last match at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy as Les Dogues’ boss, I’d expect the home side to compete. Simon Kjaer and Sébastien Corchia both return from suspension and with January signing Sofiane Boufal continuing to earn rave reviews, the hosts should have enough to inflict more misery on a Marseille side that’s lost six of their last eight at top-half teams.
Lyon v Bordeaux – Both Teams To Score (4/5 Ladbrokes)
Evian v St Etienne – St Etienne to win (19/20 William Hill)
Lille v Marseille – Lille +0.25 Asian Handicap (7/8 Bet365)