MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his three favourite bets from the weekend’s coupon in France.
Lorient v Toulouse | Saturday 19.00
The battle for Ligue 1 survival continues this weekend with a huge six-pointer between Lorient and Toulouse on Saturday night. The two teams are tied on 35 points but with only four points separating 12th-placed Caen with 18th-placed Toulouse, it’s all to play for.
Hosts Lorient suffered a damaging 0-0 draw at rock bottom Lens last weekend but back at their Stade du Moustoir base, boss Sylvain Ripoll will be bullish about his side’s chances of collecting a vital three points. Les Merlus boast an excellent record on home soil having W5-D3-L2 in front of their home supporters dating back to November.
The demanding artificial surface at Lorient’s ground makes life difficult for opposition teams and Toulouse make the journey with new head coach Dominique Arribage looking to enhance his record of two wins from his first three outings in the hot-seat.
Montpellier and Bordeaux have been seen off at home but a dismal 3-2 defeat at lowly Metz followed a worrying pattern on the road. Les Pitchouns have now lost seven on the spin on their travels and 13/16 (81%) of their away fixtures this term in Ligue 1. The visitors have failed to even score in six of their previous nine on the road and failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 away fixtures.
Since the start of the 2013/14 campaign, Lorient have recorded a 40% win rate at the Stade du Moustoir and although home coach Ripoll has a lengthy injury list to contend with, Les Merlus should be unchanged. At 6/5 (Paddy Power) Lorient are worth a punt against a Toulouse team that struggle to keep the goals out on the road and for those who like head-to-head stats, the hosts have W8-D7-L4 of the last 19 meetings in top tier action.
Bastia v Reims | Saturday 19.00
Goals should be on the agenda for Bastia’s clash with Reims. Bastia suffered a 4-0 League Cup final loss to PSG last Saturday before being edged out by two late goals at Lyon in midweek. But back at their Corsican base the Islanders will be keen to get back to winning ways.
Ghislain Printant’s men have kept only five clean sheets in 18 league matches now and although they’ve shutout half of the visitors to arrive at their Stade Armand Cesari home, I’m inclined to think Reims have the quality to get a goal.
Sebastian Squillaci returns from suspension for the hosts and so although only 7/16 (44%) of Bastia’s home games have produced BTTS winners, that trend is swallowed by the frequency of Reims’ road matches featuring goals at both ends.
A whopping 11/15 (73%) have proven profitable for Both Teams To Score punters, thanks in the main to Reims’ record of scoring in all bar three of their away days.
Olivier Guegan is now in charge of the visitors following Jean-Luc Vasseur’s sacking a fortnight ago but the new man was unable to stop Reims’ falling to a fourth successive defeat at Nice last time out. With the league’s worst defence (but a better record in front of goal than most in Ligue 1), we should be confident of Guegan’s team contributing to a Both Teams To Score bet; it’s 10/11 with William Hill.
Montpellier v Caen | Sunday 16.00
Montpellier’s hopes of snatching a Europa League qualifying place were hit for six last weekend as La Paillade fell to a 1-0 defeat at struggling Toulouse. Three defeats in six have left Rolland Courbis’s side seven points adrift of St Etienne in fifth with just six games to play. With little to play for and a dangerous Caen side still fighting for their lives, I’m happy to bypass the hosts at odds-on quotes.
The visitors were surprisingly poor when going down 3-0 at home to Monaco last Friday night. Patrice Garande’s charges managed just two shots-on-target across the 90 minutes, gave the ball away to easily and paid the price against a clinical Rouges et Blancs performance.
But the Normandy club tend to save their best displays when on the road. Caen have collected 20 of their 38 points on their travels and although they arrive with just W1-D1-L3 from their previous five, a return of W3-D1-L1 illustrates the capabilities of Garande’s enterprising and counter-attacking specialists when playing away from their home comforts.
But rather than take a chance on either side getting a result, it’s the Total Goals market that appeals. Paddy Power have chalked up Over 2.5 Goals as an even-money chance and I’m keen to get stuck into those quotes.
Montpellier’s last eight matches at Stade de la Mosson have broken the two-goal barrier with 13/16 (81%) featuring at least two goals. The hosts have found the back of the net in all bar three of those fixtures but can lay claim to just five clean sheets on home soil.
That should encourage a Caen side that’s plundered 12 goals in their previous five road trips, only failing to score in four of their 16 away days since winning promotion back to France’s top-flight. The visitors have kept a joint-low six clean sheets across their 32 Ligue 1 matches this term but can boast winning Over 2.5 Goals selections in 9/10 away and 11/16 (69%) overall.
Based on both side’s healthy returns in the Over 2.5 Goals columns, we should be expecting around a 62% chance of a repeat. Turn that probability into equivalent odds and we’d be looking at around a 3/5 shot. But thanks to Paddy Power’s generosity we can get involved at even-money. I certainly will be.
Lorient v Toulouse – Lorient to win (6/5 Paddy Power)
Bastia v Reims – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)
Montpellier v Caen – Over 2.5 Goals (1/1 Paddy Power)
Have you had a look at the Ligue 1 card this weekend? Found a bet that Mark might have missed? Then let us know!
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