World Football: Vulnerable visitors can be opposed in Mexico on Saturday

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WORLD football fanatic James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) looks to continue his fabulous form with a selection of hand-picked best bets from across the planet on Saturday.

Lens v Nancy | Saturday 19th January 2019, 13:55

Fifth meets bottom in the French second tier on Saturday and of course Lens are the heavy favourites, but it is not likely to be a routine win for the hosts based on recent results.

Under the management of Phillipe Montanier, the former Nottingham Forest boss, Lens are struggling for form in the league. When they beat GFC Ajaccio 5-0 at home in October, to continue their fine start to the campaign, many expected them to kick on.

However, they’ve only won once more in the league since then, and it was over three months ago. They did have a few weeks break over the winter, but since returning they’ve been knocked out the cup and lost to lowly Red Star in Ligue 2.

Nancy may be bottom of the table but there has been some shoots of recover of late. Nancy are managed by another boss who plied his trade in the English game at one point, Alain Perrin, who took charge of Portsmouth in 2005. Although they are indeed bottom of the league, they enter this game as the form side.

A big reason for that is their progression in the Coupe de France, but their league form has picked up a little as well. Although they lost narrowly at home to Paris FC last time out, they were unbeaten in seven prior to that in both league and cup. Eight of the 13 points Nancy has achieved this season has come away from home.

Lens you’d expect to bounce back to form at some stage, but you just can’t help but feel this is not the game they want right now. All the pressure and expectation is upon them most of the time at this level, but it certainly will be this weekend. Historically, Nancy is not a club that Lens has had continual joy over in the head-to-head category. Lens have won just twice in the last 10, although once was earlier in the season when winning 3-0 away from home in the opening weeks of the campaign.

Given that Lens are short odds-on to win, if you can get Nancy on side in any way then you will find a bit of value. We’re not going to expect them to win this game, although nothing surprises me in this league. We’ve touched upon Lens possibly getting back on track at some stage so we’ll swerve the end result column.

However, we do like the look of Nancy Over 0.5 Goals, which is 3/4 (Coral). Quite simply, they just need to score. Nancy has scored in their last six matches away from home. Lens do have quite a lot of clean sheets this season at home, but they have conceded in three of their last four at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

Meanwhile, 7/11 of Nancy’s goals has come on the road too, and they’re improving all the time.

Groningen v Heracles | Saturday 19th January 2019, 19:45

Much to the delight of myself and no doubt countless others, the Eredivisie makes a triumphant return this weekend following their winter break. Whilst most of the attention will be on the rather mouthwatering battle between PSV and Ajax at the top of the table, there is a different game to take out eye ahead of Saturday.

Groningen have been playing in the top-flight of Dutch football since winning promotion out of the second tier back in 1999. They go into the second half of the campaign with relegation being a very real possibility. However, they did manage to secure three wins in November and December to at least get them off the bottom of the table.

A lack of goals is their main bulk of problem so far, with only PEC Zwolle and De Graafschap scoring fewer times than Danny Buijs’ men. They only conceded a few more than the likes of Utrecht and AZ, who currently occupy Europa League play-off positions.

Heracles are all about goals, goals and more goals. The Eredivisie alone is generally a league that is deemed to be one of the more exciting if goals are your thing. In fact, there are only four other leagues in World Football where the 2.5 goal line has been beaten more often. Those are the New Zealand Premiership, Swiss Super League, Luxembourg National Division and Hong Kong 1st Division.

Just shy of 65% of games in Eredivisie end Over 2.5. You’ll therefore know one of the angles we’ll be taking this weekend’s game on! Focusing on the teams specifically, Heracles witness an average of 4.00 goals per game, with only Heerenveen in the Eredivisie seeing more.

Groningen’s numbers aren’t anywhere near as impressive, but three of their last four at home has ended Over 2.5. The general presence of Heracles often creates chances at either end.

14/17 of Heracles’s matches has ended Over 2.5. Only Kasimpasa, PSV and Midtjylland in the more well-known leagues has seen more end Over 2.5. Just selecting Over 2.5 here however won’t be too attractive from a price perspective, so we have to add a little more to increase our potential value return.

That will be Both Teams To Score. This has occurred in 62% of Groningen’s home encounters in the league, whilst the same is said 59% of the time for Heracles too.

Clean sheets just aren’t the name of the game for either of these teams, or the Dutch league in general. It is an attack-minded league, with attack being the best form of defence.

Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score is available at 5/6 (Coral).

Queretaro v Monterrey | Saturday 19th January 2019, 23:00

Given that we are only in the third round of games in the Clausura in, which is essentially a separate second half to the overall Primera Division in Mexico, there is not a lot of past form to go on.

We’ll certainly dive into the opening Apertura segment to give us a better understanding of a game like this. Both of these sides finished in the top eight to progress to Liguilla, which is effectively the play-offs, so both are fairly evenly matched in that regard.

Only four points separated Queretaro and Monterrey over 17 games. There is a bit of a gap between these two however, with Monterrey on average having around 26,000 more fans on average watch their games compared to Queretaro. However, Queretaro do have home advantage here.

Queretaro have actually started the Clausura rather badly. Yes, we’re only two games in, but both resulted in defeats. These were against Atlas and Pachuca, who finished 12th and 17th respectively in the 18-team Apertura. That does not shine Queretaro in a shining light at all, but motivation certainly won’t be a factor when Monterrey come to town.

Monterrey are viewed as one of the bigger teams in the league and they’ll be used to teams being up for it against them. They squandered a 2-0 lead late on to only draw at home to Leon last time out, and whilst scoring goals isn’t seemingly an issue, they are anything but bombproof.

Something which is leading me towards the selection I am choosing is that Monterrey are not necessarily good travellers. Across their nine games in the Apertura, they won three, drew two and lost four, scoring only eight in the process.

The Estadio Corregidora has not been a particular strong hunting ground for them in the past either. In fact, over their last 12 visits, they’ve only returned with three points twice. The last time being in 2014, and that was only 1-0. Queretaro are normally quite strong at home. They have lost half of their last eight here in both league and cup, but across 2018 it is still a very positive home record. 16/26 points came at home in the opening stage of the season.

It is just hard to be super confident about Monterrey returning with the win, even if they ultimately have better players. There is certainly a sense of vulnerability when they go away from home, and the historical record at this venue was mentioned earlier on in the piece. Queretaro double chance at 17/20 (Bet365) is a selection which has proved beneficial more often than not when they’re at home in recent years.

Best Bets

Lens v Nancy – Nancy to score Over 0.5 Goals (3/4 Coral)

Groningen v Heracles – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (5/6 Coral)

Queretaro v Monterrey – Queretaro double chance (17/20 Bet365)

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