WANT the best bets from Ligue 1? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his French fancies.
Metz v Toulouse | Saturday 19.00
Ligue 1 football is back on the menu this weekend and that means another chance to oppose bedraggled Metz. The famous French club are heading straight back to Ligue 2 and come into Saturday night’s crucial relegation clash with Toulouse without a win in 18 league fixtures (D5-L13).
Albert Cartier’s men have failed to score in seven of their last nine, drawn blanks in 18/30 overall and were also in the news this week as Florent Malouda and José Luis Palomino were both involved in an altercation in training. Neither are likely to figure on Saturday.
Yes, Metz shared the spoils with Caen last time out but the hosts are 11 points from safety and come up against a Toulouse side buoyed by a change of management and a massive 2-1 win against rivals Bordeaux before the international break.
Dominique Arribagé has been tasked with keeping the Violets in the French top-tier and although the visitors have lost 15 of their previous 18 top-flight fixtures on the road, there’s enough talent in the visiting squad to avoid victory at their beleaguered hosts.
I’m genuinely surprised to see Toulouse backabale at similar prices to Metz but I’ll take the Draw No Bet option for insurance. Toulouse are 10/11 with William Hill.
Montpellier v Bastia | Saturday 19.00
Montpellier have proven to be one of the most reliable sides to back when hosting Ligue 1 football and there’s no reason to believe they can’t sustain their excellent record at the Stade de la Mosson this weekend.
La Paillade have proven a profitable winning selection in 9/15 (60%) games as hosts this season but it’s their record against the lesser lights that really stands out. Taking results against teams in ninth and below, Rolland Courbis’ charges have returned W8-D1-L0 at home, scoring at least twice in eight of those games.
On Saturday it’s Bastia who make the journey to the Stade de la Mosson and although the Corsicans have managed to patch up most of their injured squad, their attention is turning towards the French League Cup final at Stade de France next weekend and they might not have their eyes firmly on the ball this weekend.
Since Ghislain Printant's appointment in November, the Blues have won just once on the road and will be seeking to avoid a ninth defeat in 15 away games this season on Saturday night. But looking further back, it’s now W4-D9-L19 in 32 away top-flight games and defeats in 14/17 trips to top-half teams.
I’ll happily take a home win at 10/11 (William Hill) even if hitman Lucas Barrios is rested by La Paillade.
Marseille v PSG | Sunday 20.00 | BT Sport 1
Could the biggest game in France be any bigger this weekend? The result of Le Classique could have serious implications on the Ligue 1 title race and as much as I’d prefer not to, it’s hard not to be seduced by the 8/11 (Coral) on PSG in the Draw No Bet market on Sunday night.
The Parisians top the table for the first time this season and while they’ve won just once in seven away, Laurent Blanc’s men boast a far superior squad to their bitter rivals and make the journey south with key men all fit and ready to fire.
The defending champions have W7-D1-L0 in their previous eight clashes against Marseille and arrive at the fixture having W3-D4-L0 in the seven matches they’ve played against the current top-five in Ligue 1 this season. Marseille can lay claim to just W1-D2-L3 in their six league fixtures against the same opponents.
What’s more, Marcelo Bielsa’s men are without two of their most influential defensive stars as holding midfielder Gianelli Imbula is unavailable and centre-half Nicolas Nkoulou won’t be fit to start. Les Phocéens have failed to record wins in any of their previous three at the Velodrome and although they trail PSG by just two points, I just can’t see Marseille clawing their way back into the title race.
PSG have won half of their last 12 trips to top-six teams and I’d be very surprised should Blanc’s men fall on Sunday night. So with the safety of the draw onside, I’ll happily invest my faith in the defending champions taking a step closer to another Ligue 1 title.
Metz v Toulouse – Toulouse draw no bet (10/11 William Hill)
Montpellier v Bastia – Montpellier to win (10/11 William Hill)
Marseille v PSG – PSG draw no bet (8/11 Coral)