The northerners will be missing starting left back Saliou Cisse, along with centre back Emmanuel Ntim. The latter wouldn’t be in the XI anyway, so isn’t really a huge loss. In midfield, an injury to Abdoul Kabore is more of a blow though. As per usual, striker Teddy Butin is on the treatment table. VA recently lost winger Isaac Mbenza to Standard Liege, although it was anticipated he’d be transferred out sooner rather than later. Valenciennes generally had a poor campaign last year but they should be solid enough under Faruk Hadzibegic this term. They drew a massive amount of games at home in the previous season and it’s important they convert some of those into victories this time around. Their friendly results have been mixed and there have been differing reports about performances. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect from them here.
The visitors travel here with a squad in healthy condition, minus Farid Boulaya who continues to recover from an ACL injury. Clermont have done well under the guidance of female coach Corinne Diacre in the last two seasons. She’s been pretty attacking with her tactics and the Auvergne side have developed a reputation of being quite entertaining. She’s been fortunate to have some good strikers at her disposal though, and quite how they replace 20+ goal man Famara Diedhiou seems impossible to me. Pre season for Clermont has been alright with some mixed results and performances. I don’t think they’ll do quite as well this year, but they won't regress too much either. Diacre has shown some weaknesses with her away tactics since taking over, and I’m always more cautious of them on the road because of this.
Conclusion & betting analysis
This looks a tricky match to call and could be very close. I think there are question marks surrounding both sides and it’s hard to know which way this’ll go. I don't think this will be a particularly tight game, but at the same time I don't envisage it being hugely open either. It feels like the sort of fixture in which both teams score, but without there being an abundance of goals. Something like a 1-1 outcome seems quite possible to me. In terms of betting, I think Valenciennes are overpriced. They should be favourites on a -0.25 handicap @ about 2.0. But instead bookmakers can’t separate either side on a DNB, offering 1.95 each. I would say there's’ some value to be had on Valenciennes DNB @ this price, but I’m not confident enough to back them. There’s too much risk involved early in the season and no need to get involved when better opportunities lie elsewhere. The goal line is set at 2.0 and this seems fair because it feels like the sort of game in which exactly two goals might be scored.
Recommended bet: None