THREE tasty fancies from the French coupon this weekend? Allow Ligue 1 fan Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) to reveal all.
Lille v Toulouse | Saturday 19.00
Lille produced their best away performance of the season last weekend when winning 2-1 at Bastia. Defending in their standard stout way, Les Dogues were effective in possession and incisive going forward.
Playmaker Sofiane Boufal was really in the mood to perform and managed to grab a goal and deliver plenty of pivotal passes; he’s now been involved in four of Lille’s last five goals in a welcome return to form.
The victory in Corsica lifted Frédéric Antonetti’s charges into the top-half of the Ligue 1 table as they secured back-to-back wins for the first time this year and their European dreams haven’t yet been dashed.
So I’m going to count on a buoyant Lille side producing the good at their Stade Pierre-Mauroy home once more on Saturday night. Here, Les Dogues have won 18/34 (53%) of their home league fixtures since the start of last season, including seeing off 10 of their past 15 bottom-six visitors.
The hosts have scored in each of their last 11 games on home soil and a W4-D3-L1 return from their past eight matches should stand them in good stead. Sure, Sebastian Corchia, Marvin Martin, Franck Beria and Mike Maignan are still sidelined and several others are rated doubtful but Lille have enough to get over the line.
Toulouse have W2-D6-L8 in their last 16 Ligue 1 meetings with Lille and have managed just W2-D8-L15 when visiting Les Dogues – the latter includes five successive defeats with TFC failing to even score on four occasions.
Les Pitchouns picked up their first triumph in 10 (W1-D3-L6) in Pascal Dupraz‘s debut game in charge, thrashing local rivals Bordeaux 4-0. Without taking too much away from the travellers, two goals came from the penalty spot and the final blow came when Bordeaux had all but given up on the game.
Dupraz hasn’t changed a huge deal since arriving and although Wissam Ben Yedder’s recent form deserves plenty of respect – he’s notched nine of TFC’s last 12 goals – Les Pitchouns have only W6-D5-L27 in their past 38 away trips in Ligue 1 and look far from likely to improve on those stats here.
We can take Lille at even-money but I’ll add in Under 3.5 Goals to boost the price to 7/5 (Stan James). Only 4/34 (12%) of Lille’s home games have broken the three-goal barrier as they’ve kept 19 clean sheets in that run.
Toulouse have been shutout in exactly half of their past 34 away trips but at least with the Under 3.5 Goals option we’re covered against a possible 2-1 win.
Caen v Troyes | Saturday 19.00
There’s no major need to go into detail on this one, eh?
Only PSG (24) have won more Ligue 1 games than Caen (13) this season and the hosts should be more than capable of enhancing their current home record (W7-D2-L6) against rock-bottom Troyes with European claims still alive and well.
Patrice Garande's side are only missing Saidi Ntibazonkiza this week and have bagged five wins in nine when welcoming bottom-six sides to the Stade Michel d'Ornano. This season they’ve W4-D0-L1 against the current bottom-six.
The hosts were much the better team against Gazalec last weekend but wayward finishing cost Caen as they slipped to defeat. Nevertheless, there should be no problem in supporting Garande's men off a -1 Asian Handicap at 4/5 (Stan James) quotes.
With this selection, we’ll get our cash back should Caen secure just a one-goal win and we’ll make money if the home side run out winners by at least a two-goal margin.
Only two sides in Ligue 1 history have collected fewer points than Troyes’ tally of 14 from 30 games and their W2-D8-L20 return has come alongside a dreadful -47 goal difference.
Last weekend’s humiliating 9-0 home reverse to PSG may take some time in getting over and l'ESTAC will be confirmed as relegated this weekend if results go against last year’s Ligue 2 clubs.
For the record, Troyes have W2-D2-L11 on the road, failing to score in six and shipping 39 gaols. With six defeats in seven previous trips to the top-half, it would be no surprise at all if that became seven from eight on Saturday night.
Nice v GFC Ajaccio | Sunday 16.00 | BT Sport Extra
Nice have recorded back-to-back wins to cement their place in Ligue 1’s top-three and keeping their Champions League dream alive and kicking.
Les Aiglons’ bounce back to form has coincided with Hatem Ben Arfa’s return from injury and on Sunday, head coach Claude Puel should be able to call-upon his first-choice front-three for the first time in 2016 with Ben Arfa joined by Alassane Plea and Valère Germain.
It would offer the south-coast club a huge boost in their quest to complete the season in those top-three positions and coming into this weekend’s match, a W6-D4-L3 return, including W5-D1-L1 at their Allianz Riviera base means Nice look a great bet price at 10/11 with Marathon.
Puel’s troops were clinical, solid yet unspectacular in last weekend’s 2-0 triumph at Montpellier but a return home should give Les Aiglons the necessary boost to continue their upward curve. Take out results against PSG and Monaco and Nice have W8-D2-L3 when welcoming Ligue 1 opposition.
GFC Ajaccio picked up 23 points in a 10-match spell before and after Christmas period but Ligue 1 debutants have hit the buffers again in recent weeks thanks to a heavy draw count.
Last weekend’s scratchy 1-0 success over Caen was their first triumph since 20th December and the strugglers have been beaten in four of their past 10.
As guests, Le Gaz have been at their most vulnerable – defeated in exactly half of their road trips, including a W0-D2-L6 return at top-half teams.
Lille v Toulouse – Lille to win and Under 3.5 Goals (7/5 Stan James)
Caen v Troyes – Caen -1 Asian Handicap (4/5 Stan James)
Nice v GFC Ajaccio – Nice to win (10/11 Marathon)
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