THERE’S two fixtures from France’s top tier on the menu on Wednesday evening. Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his thoughts.
Bastia v Nantes | Wednesday 17.30
Since the start of last season, Bastia have returned outstanding W17-D8-L8 figures when hosting Ligue 1 action and the Corsicans look underrated at 28/29 (888) in the Draw No Bet market for their midweek match with Nantes.
Head coach François Ciccolini remains without injured duo Christopher Maboulou and Gilles Cioni for the Stade Armand Cesari fixture but the superbly organised side have been in great nick of late and deserve outright favouritism here.
The Turchini caused Lorient plenty of problems in their goalless weekend draw with winger Floyd Ayité looking especially dangerous on the counter-attack with his speed and vision key. Defensively, Bastia are one of the league’s tightest teams and in Jean-Louis Leca the hosts boast a goalkeeper in outstanding form.
The Corsicans have kept 12 clean sheets in their 28 outings this term, including in each of their last four. And at Stade Armand Cesari, the hosts have managed to silence nine of their 14 guests. Exclude results against PSG and Monaco and Bastia have W9-D1-L4 at their island base.
None of the Turchini’s past five visitors have managed to score in Bastia and the home side will be happy to hand over the initiative to Nantes on Wednesday night before attacking incisively when the ball is turned over.
Nantes suffered their first Ligue 1 loss of 2016 at the weekend when falling to a 4-1 defeat at local rivals Rennes. Les Canaris competed well in possession and created goalscoring opportunities but slack defensive errors proved Michel Der Zakarian’s men undoing.
Since the turn of the year, Nantes appear to have changed their strategy. Since promotion back to the top-flight, the Yellows have prided their approach on defensive stability. However, in 2016 Der Zakarian has released the shackles.
When things click in the Canaries camp, the visitors are a joy but after exiting the French Cup to Ligue 2 outfit Sochaux and having conceded 10 goals in their last three road trips, the westerners may not have the stomach for what’s expected to be another gruelling arm-wrestle of a match.
Nantes have W8-D10-L15 on their travels since the start of last season, failing to score on 16 occasions. With just a 24% win-rate away from 33 games and Bastia suffering defeats in just 24% of their home fixtures across the same sample, should the hosts be trading at odds as big as 28/29 (888) in the Draw No Bet market?
I don’t think so.
GFC Ajaccio v Marseille | Wednesday 17.30
Marseille are seven points shy of the European qualification places in Ligue 1 and after another below-par performance at their Stade Velodrome home on Sunday, Michel’s men must focus on securing French Cup glory and avoid being dragged into a relegation battle, to save their season.
L’OM have failed to record maximum points as hosts since mid-September but Les Phocéens have enjoyed much more success on the road. The visitors are unbeaten on their domestic travels since October (W6-D3-L0) and have managed to net the opener in all nine of those encounters.
Runaway league leaders PSG are the only side to beat Marseille since November in Ligue 1 (W4-D10-L1) but that high draw count is a little off-putting. There’s an overreliance on Michy Batshuayi in attack and the influential midfield marauder Lassana Diarra is set to sit this one out.
L’OM just don’t seem a cohesive unit and for that reason they’re hard to second guess, or find the faith to wager your hard-earned cash on. So I’ll gladly look for an alternative angle as they take a trip to Corsica to face relegation-haunted Gazalec.
An 11-match unbeaten streak rapidly petered out for Thierry Laurey’s team after the short winter break and Le Gaz are winless in 2016 (W0-D5-L4). But Mohamed Larbi's stoppage-time equaliser at Bordeaux at the weekend should have given the Ligue 1 debutants a handy boost ahead of their journey home.
Gazalec’s small stadium will be packed to the rafters with fanatical fans and although the home side were booed off after a 3-2 reverse to rock bottom Troyes in their last Stade Ange Casanova date, this side relishes their role as underdogs – I reckon they can cause a Diarra-less Marseille problems.
There’s a suggestion Laurey could switch to a 3-5-2 formation and look to shut-up shop but that’s not really in Le Gaz’s nature and so finding a way of getting goals onside looks just the ticket.
These two teams have been involved in 34/56 (61%) of winning Both Teams To Score bets, including 15/26 (58%) when looking at their respective home/away records. With 28/29 (888) on offer for BTTS, I’ll stick happily get involved at a value price.
I’m also going to have a small interest in the 1-1 correct score. A chunky 36/56 (64%) of their collective league matches have featured fewer than three goals, including 17/26 (65%) when looking at their home/away records.
Interestingly, 21 of the aforementioned successful 34 BTTS games have ended all-square, 16 of which were 1-1. So this correct score has banked in 29% of the duos domestic fixtures this term – the implied odds of that percentage figure is 5/2 – making the 6/1 from BetVictor excellent value.
Bastia v Nantes – Bastia draw no bet (28/29 888)
GFC Ajaccio v Marseille – Both Teams To Score (28/29 888)
GFC Ajaccio v Marseille – 1-1 correct score (6/1 BetVictor)
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