MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his French fancies ahead of the weekend’s Ligue 1 action.
Rennes v Metz | Saturday 19.00
It’s starting to become a staple part of my week. Friday rolls around, I scour the Ligue 1 prices and oppose beleaguered Metz. This weekend they head to Rennes and I’ll be putting my cash down on Les Rouges et Noirs recording back-to-back top tier wins for the first time since December on Saturday night.
Despite failing to record three points in 10 league fixtures (their worst winless streak in 23 years), the Rennes board have been looking to offer coach Philippe Montanier a new deal. And their faith was rewarded last weekend when the former goalkeeper guided the Normandy club to a 1-0 success at struggling Lens.
Returning to Route de Lorient on Saturday, I’m happy to put my faith in the hosts with Sportingbet offering a very attractive 10/11. Ola Toivonen is set to join Paul-Georges Ntep and Pedro Henrique in a tasty looking attacking trident and Montanier’s men should have enough quality to put this Metz side to bed comfortably.
True, the home side’s record at their Normandy base is relatively uninspiring (W5-D4-L4) but four of those five three-pointers have been secured by a margin of two goals or more while their results against teams below in the table offer plenty of promise (W7-D2-L5).
The visitors suffered their 11th defeat in 15 winless Ligue 1 matches last weekend when entertaining Evian, have already failed to score a goal in 16 fixtures this season and have lost eight of their previous 10 road trips with seven of those defeats arriving by two goals or more. It’s looking bleak for Les Grenats.
Albert Cartier's visitors are expecting a number of players back from injury but trying to turn a sinking ship won’t be easy. They’ve failed to net in eight of their previous 10 away fixtures and with just two points earned on their travels since September, the almost even-money on offer looks a gift.
Caen v Bordeaux | Saturday 19.00
Any of you who follow me on Twitter will know, Caen have cemented their place in my heart with a number of spectacular displays in 2015. Whatever Santa bought them for Christmas, I want it…
Going into the winter break, SMC were looking bewildered in the bottom three. But a 1-0 loss away to Lille was soon forgotten about as the northerners have embarked on an emphatic set of results and performances.
Last Friday’s 3-2 win in Marseille was fully deserved and Patrice Garande’s men have gained more points (19), scored more goals (20) and attempted more shots-on-target than any other Ligue 1 side this calendar year. Skipper Julien Féret has led from the front while Emiliano Sala, derided at Bordeaux, has even hit a hot streak in front of goal.
Saturday’s hosts now sit five points above the drop zone in the dizzy heights of 12th. But rather than back Caen to win against a Bordeaux side that’s suffered just 7/27 (26%) defeats under Willy Sagnol, I’m happy to go balls deep into the 4/6 from 888 Sport that this fixture features Over 2 Goals on the Asian Goals line.
This selection means we’ll get our cash back should exactly two goals be scored and we’ll have ourselves a winner should three or more be plundered. It offers us a bit of security should the game go against the grain with only one or zero goals seeing the bet lose.
Caen have scored at least twice in six of their previous seven while 10 of their 13 matches at Stade Michel d'Ornano have featured at least two goals. Just two clean sheets since September is always a concern for SMC but we’re backing goals and it’s another positive in our favour.
As for Bordeaux, Sagnol’s charges made it six games unbeaten as they were held by Reims to a 1-1 draw last weekend. Eight of their away games have producing two goals or more with Les Girondins netting in 21/27 league outings this term – seven clean sheets across the same timeframe suggests they’re yet to find the magic formula in defence and so it would be a surprise if they were to keep in-form Caen out.
Montpellier v Lyon | Sunday 20.00 | ESPN
Does anyone want to win Ligue 1 this season? For the third matchday in four, none of the top-five clubs recorded a victory, leaving the title race wide open as we approach the final furlong.
Lyon were beaten 2-1 at Lille, downing our punt on Les Gones in the Draw No Bet market. What made the result all the more galling was the fact Hubert Fournier’s men were leading and seemingly in control before crumbling under Les Dogues’ pressure.
This weekend they face another tricky task with a visit to Montpellier and I’m not prepared to follow the table-toppers in again. The young squad could be suffering from the demands and expectation of leading the league as we enter the business stage and their road record (W4-D5-L4) just isn’t good enough to warrant support.
Montpellier have W6-D3-L1 to rise up to sixth and are only two points off Monaco in fourth. Rolland Courbis’ charges are certainly no slouches especially at Stade de la Mosson (W8-D1-L4). However, those four losses have come when entertaining top-half teams so I’ll look elsewhere for the best bet.
Coral are offering 19/20 on Both Teams To Score and that holds plenty of appeal. The home side have only failed to trouble the scorers once at La Mosson since September and claimed only five clean sheets in 13 outings when hosting. Only 5/13 (38%) of those fixtures returned BTTS winners but under Courbis’ watch that figure increases to 11/23 (48%).
Lucas Barrios has found his shooting boots this year, netting five goals in his previous six and he’ll fancy his chances against a Lyon defence that’s leaked in four of their last five league games. Les Gones have recorded 8/13 (62%) Both Teams To Score winners on their travels this term and it’s difficult seeing them fail to score for only a fifth occasion in 28 starts.
If you take the BTTS % rate of Montpellier home matches under Courbis as well as Lyon’s BTTS % rate on the road this season, the stats suggest there’s a 55% chance of a Both Teams To Score winner on Sunday. The 19/20 offering from Coral implies the odds of a repeat is a squeak better than 50%, meaning we’ve a slice of value too.
Rennes v Metz – Rennes to win (10/11 Sportingbet)
Caen v Bordeaux – Over 2 Goals on the Asian Goals line (4/6 888 Sport)
Montpellier v Lyon – Both Teams To Score (19/20 Coral)
Do you have a bet in Ligue 1 you want to rave about? Reckon Mark’s got it all wrong?
We’d love to hear your views so let us know in the comments box below.