Monthly Archives: August 2016

France Ligue 1 – Metz v Angers Preview (27/8/16)

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Metz preview

If you’d offered Metz three points after two games they’d have snapped your hand off. On the opening day they came from behind to beat Lille 3-2 and then actually gave a relatively good account of themselves vs PSG last week. At 1-0 down, they created 2 or 3 good chances to equalise and if they’d managed to take one, it might’ve been a different story. In the end, the 3-0 scoreline was probably a little bit harsh on them. I look on paper and this Metz side is currently one of the worst in the division, led by a coach who I’ve never really rated. But the feeling is good around the club and they are under no real pressure. Metz will really feel like this is a winnable game and in front of their own fans I think they’ll be on the front foot. I don’t expect a lot of changes to take place within the team.

Angers preview

The visitors have lost both of their matches by a 0-1 scoreline and this rather highlights their problem. Lack of goalscoring has been a big problem so far. It’s not that Angers haven't created chances, they simply haven't been able to finish them off. Famara Diedhiou & Karl Toko Ekambi thrives at ligue 2 level, but so far in the top flight they've fired blanks. It’s early days but I already sense a feeling of ‘second season syndrome with Angers. It could be a struggle for them this term and to lose this match would be real bad news for them. Squad condition looks fine, but something isn’t quite right at the moment.

Conclusion & betting analysis

The way things are going at the moment I actually think Metz will win this match. There’s much more of an element of confidence surrounding them and they are in what I call a promotion honeymoon, clearly enjoying life. I think this might be a good game to watch and both teams will fancy their chances. The atmosphere at Le Stade Saint Symphorien was really good on the opening day, the Metz players obviously extra motivated by their fans. Lets not forget on paper this is one of the worst teams in the ligue, so I’m reluctant to back them on a -0.25 handicap, even @ decent odds. The pick I do like is over 1.75 goals. Metz showed a willingness to attack last season, as was the case against Lille here in round one. Angers might not have scored, but it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Sooner or later they will hit the back of the net with the amount of chances being created. Over 1.75 is priced reasonably enough and even if only 2 goals are scored, this bet will half win!

Prediction: 2-1
Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 1.75 goals @ 1.75 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)

France Ligue 1 – Caen v Bastia Preview (27/8/16)

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Caen preview

The Normandy side had a great come from behind win against Lorient on the opening day but they actually disappointed me at Lyon last week. They eventually lost 0-2 but it was a shame they offered little going forwards. Most Caen sides under Patrice Garande have a real good go, even against the bigger teams. But for some reason there was a flat element to Caen last Friday night. Ok, they were facing a good side but it was like they almost gave them too much much respect, and uncharacteristically sat back. I’m sure things will be a bit different now they face a team like Bastia at home. There’s some doubt about the participation of certain players, especially winger Herve Bazile.

Bastia preview

The Corsicans have had a really solid start to the season. They more than held their own against PSG on the opening day, perhaps unlucky to lose 0-1. Last week they were excellent at dispatching Lorien 3-0 on the road. This was a great result for a team not particularly known for it’s away success. I am not a great fan of watching them play under the management of Francois Ciccolini but I have to admit they are quite effective. He is a disciplined tactical coach and makes his sides hard to break down in any match. First and foremost he thinks of defence, so fits in well with French football! The squad has been very settled of late and I don’t expect him to make many changes here.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I usually like backing overs in Caen games, especially here at Le Stade Michel D’Ornano. They are a very proactive team and like to play attacking football. However, I’m the complete opposite when it comes to Bastia games. It’s best to avoid overs when they are in town and the risk of a low scoring match is simply too great. Maybe this match might develop into a decent affair, but if Bastia can keep it 0-0 for a while then it’s more likely to become a tight tactical battle. Caen won't have a lot of space to penetrate a solid defence and will probably get frustrated. Over 2 goals can be backed @ 1.84 and that is really generous for a Caen game. But the wise option is to refrain from betting here because the fear of losing is too much.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Nice v Lille Preview (27/8/16)

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Nice preview

The south coast side have won both of their matches this season, each by a 1-0 scoreline. I’m not quite sure how they managed to keep a clean sheet on both occasions, but the fact is they are situated on six points after two games. Nice have recently signed Dante from Wolfsburg and new coach Lucien Favre will hope he can steady a backline, which although statistically impressive, does look vulnerable. Nice are going to be a work in progress for a while under Favre, so he must be delighted with their start. He's yet to really develop an identity at this club and I feel like they are unpredictable at the moment.

Lille preview

LOSC haven't really started the season very well. Their embarrassing exit from the Europa League was followed up with an opening day defeat at newly promoted Metz. Truth be told, they laboured past Dijon last week and needed a late goal to prevail 1-0. Les Dogues have a string of injuries to contend with and are badly missing the influential Sofiane Boufal who scored or created most of their goals last season. Boufal might be on his way out of the club to the EPL before the end of this transfer window anyway. Something isn’t right with Lille at the moment. On paper they actually have one of the strongest squads in the whole of Ligue 1 but for some reason or another, they aren’t performing that well.

Conclusion & betting analysis

When these two teams meet, not a lot of goals are usually scored. The last seven H2H encounters have all ended under 2.5 goals, and I can see a similar outcome again today. I don’t expect much of a classic and for defences to remain on top. It feels like the sort of fixture which will either end 0-0, or be decided by a solitary goal. The way things are going at the moment, then you’d have to favour Nice to find a way to win. They can actually be backed on a DNB handicap @ a generous price, so there’s definitely some temptation. Something about them doesn't convince me right now though and I just think this could be a real 50/50 game and quite random who claims the winning goal. So I’m going to no bet this affair, although I was close to taking Nice. If Lille did get their noses in front they’d be a nightmare to break down so it isn’t worth the risk.

Prediction: 1-0
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Montpellier v Rennes Preview (27/8/16)

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Montpellier preview

MHSC have started the season with a win and a loss. They failed to make the most of a good HT winning position last week at St Etienne, producing a poor second period to eventually lose 3-1. The hosts have no injuries to worry about and the coach can pick from anyone. This is a fairly settled side compared to last season and relatively few players have either left or joined the club. Montpellier haven't exactly lit the world alight yet this year though and have looked average at best. Coach Frederic Hantz is always hard to predict, but considering the fact they’ll likely face quite a positive team, he might decide to fight fire with fire.

Rennes preview

I think Rennes have looked quite a good team under the management of Christian Gourcuff. They were really unlucky to lose against Nice on the opening day and they did enough to beat Nancy last weekend. You know what you’re going to get with Gourcuff. He sticks religiously to his 4-4-2 system, itself a rarity in French football these days! With two men constantly upfront, you know his sides will always carry an attacking threat. He’s a very offensive minded coach for French footballing standards. It still looks to me like some of the players are getting used to his system, but think this sort of football suits Rennes as a club. I don’t expect a lot of changes in the side compared to their first two matches.

Conclusion & Betting analysis

I actually have a feeling Rennes might win this match. They look the more sharper of the two teams right now and they’ll probably fancy their chances of beating Montpellier. The hosts have had periods of sloppiness at the back which didn’t cost them against Agers on the opening day, but did facing Sainte last Sunday. There’s no doubt that the visitors will have some really dangerous counter attacks, the big question is if they can convert chances. I think this will be an open game of football and I like the idea of backing over 2 goals. Rennes are a proactive team and are unlikely to come here with a negative gameplan. Montpellier can get sucked into more offensive game and both will probably have a good go at winning. Over 2 goals can be backed @ 1.81 and this is big enough to tempt me. With a full refund if exactly two goals are scored, this is the sort of line I like.

Prediction: 1-2
Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2 goals @ 1.81 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)

Ligue 1 – Nancy v Guingamp Preview (27/8/16)

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Nancy preview

The newly promoted Lorraine outfit have started the season with back to back defeats and yet to register a single goal. Their lack of threat upfront has been all too evident and they've struggled to create many chances. Old veteran Youssouf Hadji returns to the squad after injury today, and maybe his touch might make the difference should he come off the bench or something. At the back, Mickael Chretien is still ruled out which is a big blow because he’s one of their top defenders. Nancy dominated most matches last term but already they’ve witnessed the harsh reality of Ligue 1 level, it’s just a complete step above. This is perhaps a more manageable fixture but they need to really open up and become the threat they were last year.

Guingamp preview

The Bretons have a ton of injuries with about 9 or 10 players all ruled out of this game. Most of them affect guys who have yet to play a single minute yet this campaign, although Guingamp were dealt a big blow by the news that captain Jimmy Briand is ruled out. They will miss him upfront and he’s a tough of class at this level. Winger Yannis Salibur is rated doubtful so the visitors could certainly lose some of their attacking threat which has served them well so far this season. Guingamp have actually looked quite good thus far, especially during last week’s 2-1 win against Marseille. Coach Antoine Kombouare is naturally attack minded and his sides usually retain some sort of threat going forwards.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I have a feeling that Nancy might win this match but they are too short to back around the 1.85 mark on a -0.25 handicap. Once again it looks like Guingamp might be underrated a bit, although missing Jimmy Briand upfront might affect them. If Briand was available and Salibur guaranteed a start then I would back over 2.25 goals. But the visitors might have to rely on defensive solidarity today instead. Couple that with Nancy’s ineptitude in front of goal, the wise option is probably to refrain from betting. One fact that mustn't be overlooked is that Nancy play on an artificial surface so they’ll have an advantage in that department. As I mentioned, I was tempted with over 2.25 goals but there’s probably too much doubt.

Prediction: 2-1
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Dijon v Lyon Preview (27/8/16)

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Dijon preview

Les Rouges have started life in Ligue 1 with back to back defeats, both by a 0-1 scoreline. Their offense has struggled to create chances which is a far cry from the levels they were at in the second tier last year. In fairness to Dijon, they've faced two strong defensive teams in Nantes & Lille. Neither of those outfits gave them much of a sniff. Perhaps today against a more attacking Lyon then the newly promoted side might have more joy. They certainly won't have much success in the possession department, Lyon will dominate that area. So the hosts will have to make the most of their counter attacking opportunities. Squad wise, they are at full strength minus Marvin Martin who’s yet to make an appearance.

Lyon preview

OL are also at full strength apart from Rachid Ghezzal who’s apparently injured, but additionally in the middle of a contract dispute. They have started the season with a 3-0 and a 2-0 win and generally looked like a very professional outfit. Their defence hasn’t been troubled much and many would suggest the same will happen again here. Star striker has scored all five of their goals and looked in sharp touch. Lyon didn’t blow away Caen last week and for the most part only led 1-0 for large periods. There was an element of control to their game and they know that they can ill afford to pass up on an opportunity to beat another promoted team.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Lyon should win this game, the question is exactly by how many goals? They are on a -0.75 asian handicap so would need to win by 2+ if you were to win your bet fully. In all reality, Les Gones should be claiming a comfortable success but Dijon have nothing to lose and I’m sure they’ll be anxious to at least score their first goal of the season. The OL backline will play much higher than any of their first two opponents, so it’s up to them to take advantage. I’m really torn with this match and I’m not sure what to back. OL were on a nice -0.25 handicap on the opening day of the season at Nancy, yet are now -0.5 @ 1.75. There’s not a lot of difference between Nancy & Dijon, so what’s changed? I think this will end up an away win and with over 2.5 goals, but I’m too scared to back either bet. I just feel like there’s an element of doubt with both and the prices too short. So I’ll sit this one out and probably regret not betting!

Prediction: 1-2
Recommended bet: None

Tippeligaen – Haugesund v Brann Preview (27/8/16)

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Haugesund preview

FKH have bounced back well following a small sticky period. They should have won their last three consecutive games but conceded late on at Lillestrom last week and were held to a 1-1 draw. Performance wise, Haugesund have been playing well though and have recently switched to a more conventional formation after using a 3-5-2 for most of the year. Currently residing in fifth spot, a victory would take them above Brann and potentially as high as third. The squad is in fine condition health wise, but they do miss key midfielder Filip Kiss to suspension. The two games he’s missed this season, Haugesund have lost them both, including the terrible 0-6 drubbing at the hands of Rosenborg. So I think they will lack something in the middle of the park without him, and that could be important against a solid team like Brann.

Brann preview

The Bergen outfit still reside in a medal position following a 1-1 draw against Rosenborg last week. Brann played well against the champions and deserved their point. This is a team that's been one of the big surprises in 2016 and excelled following their promotion. Brann are built on solid foundations, hard to break down and they work extremely hard. They are less effective on the road, but have still managed to pick up some decent away points this season. The attacking duo of Daniel Braaten & Deyver Vega are both rated doubtful for the contest. Brann are quite a predictable team and not a lot will change with their approach. Expect much of the same sort of solid tactics and committed performances.

Conclusion & betting analysis

West coast derby between two surprising teams of 2016. Both have been punching above their weight and it’s good to see someone like Haugesund & Brann doing well. The previous fixture between the two sides ended up a 1-0 Brann win and something similar is quite possible today. I think this will be a tight match in which both defences are generally on top. Brann games have been more open recently but their natural tendency is to defend strongly. From a betting point of view, not a lot interests me. I just don’t see an edge in any market and I’m happy to swerve the encounter. My feeling is for a lower scoring match, but maybe not a 0-0. Tough one really.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet: None

Tippeligaen – Stromsgodset v Molde Preview (27/8/16)

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Stromsgodset preview

Godset have really gone off the rails. They are winless in five games and lost three of those encounters. They couldn’t even beat lowly Start at home in their most recent fixture at Marienlyst Stadion. Something isn’t right and they’ve lost their attacking drive, looking much more toothless upfront. Things aren't helped by the suspension of key man Marcus Pedersen today, whilst fellow frontman Tommy Hoiland is also banned. I just look at the current Godset options in attack for this match and nothing really strikes any fear. This isn’t the natural way this side plays its football. The coach likes to be positive, have a go, and be on the front foot. But I’m not sure he’s got the weapons at the moment, certainly not today. SIF might have to rely on defence to get a result in this one. They have a superb 8-3-0 record at home and nobody has beaten them here yet in 2016. SIF always have to be respected at Marienlyst.

Molde preview

MFK endured a really difficult mid season but seem to have come out of that tricky spell. They won for the third game in a row last week, beating Odd 4-2 in what was a real topsy-turvy game. I don’t think Molde are as good as what they were when the likes of Elyounoussi & Gulbrandsen were at the club, but they are on the road to recovery and confidence seems improved. I have noticed a big difference in Molde’s defending of late. Yes, they conceded twice last week but both of those were from set pieces. From open play, they actually look more disciplined. It’s taken coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a while to finally realise it, but they can no longer rely on just pure attacking force to win matches. I was impressed how they game managed at Aalesund in their previous away fixture, whilst still maintaining a decent attacking threat. The Molde injury issues haven’t completely disappeared but things have improved a little bit. The main issues remain in defence where the likes of Joona Toivio are ruled out.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Matches between these two teams usually contain goals, as was the case earlier in the season when Molde won 4-2. The last three H2Hs at this stadium have all been won by Godset, but I think they’ll do well to pick up three points today. I haven't been impressed with them recently and don’t believe they are offering anywhere near their traditional threat level going forwards. Couple that with some improved Molde tactics and defending, and things are setting up fairly well for the visitors. Lets not forget Molde themselves are in transition though. Most would agree their team is weaker than it was at the start of the season. A few months, or even weeks ago I would totally bet the overs in this match, but I’m not interested now. My feeling is for a draw or Molde win, but this actually feels like a tricky match to predict. The bookies look to be pretty spot on with their lines and I’m happy to give this one a miss. Godset are hard to beat at home so I’ll predict they manage to grind out a draw.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Red Star v Le Havre Preview (27/8/16)

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Red Star preview

The hosts head into this match second bottom of the table on just a couple of points. The Parisian outfit have only scored one goal all season and generally looked quite toothless. There were at least some positives to take from their Monday night display at Reims. They came from 0-1 down to get level and then really looked in the ascendency. They ultimately didn’t push on and succumbed to a late goal but it was a big improvement on what they’d shown in their previous three games. Whether or not they can now kick on from this remains to be seen. I talked about how the squad has been pretty unsettled recently due to some impending moves away from the club. The same thing still applies here and I think the whole club will breathe a sigh of relief when this window is shut. Key playmaker Hameur Bouazza returns from injury here. Finally, as a reminder Red Star now play their home matches back in Paris at Le Stade Jean Bouin.

Le Havre preview

Things all started so rosy for Le Havre this season but they've gone off the rails in the space of a week. Firstly, they suffered a shock home loss to Troyes (1-3), then suffered complete embarrassment in the cup, going down 2-5 to lower ligue side Châteauroux 2-5 at home! Bob Bradley called that performance completely unacceptable and accused his players of not caring. I’m not sure what to make of it myself but Le Havre have been known to fail in cups before, last year they went out in similar fashion. Something isn’t quite right at the moment though and they have yet to really fire in any ligue matches yet this season. Right winger Zinedine Ferhat is inured but the rest of the squad is fully available. Le Havre haven’t generally been as good away from home under Bob Bradley but still have to be respected, because on paper they have great quality in all areas of the field.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Red Star won both meetings between the two sides last season but don’t really come into the match in great form. They've struggled in both home games, yet to score and generally been second best. Le Havre have had a difficult last week or so and I expect to see a reaction from them. Bob Bradley hasn't been very pleased with their performances and he’s the sort of motivational coach who can fire up his players to perform. He’s not a natural away tactician but I think they’ll just about have enough to find a victory today. However, I’m not confident enough to actually back HAC, even though a DNB line is offered. If Le Havre win, I don’t think it’ll be in a convincing fashion. Truth be told I don’t expect this to be much of a classic. Very hot temperatures are expected in Paris, so expect a sluggish sort of low tempo game in which one goal would possibly be enough for victory.

Prediction: 0-1
Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Troyes v Lens Preview (26/8/16)

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Troyes preview

ESTAC have surprised everyone by picking up back to back wins. A victory against Laval last time out at home 1-0 is nothing to shout about, but the 3-1 they obtained at Le Havre last week was a complete shocker. Some would argue they deserved it too, even though they were given a generous penalty and rode their luck at times. Troyes were proactive in the game and were dangerous on the counter attack, so were rewarded for their efforts. Following a nightmare start to the season and also following on from a disastrous Ligue 1 campaign, maybe this team has turned the corner. It might be that a sudden loss would dent their confidence again, but who knows. Understandably, the coach has kept faith with a similar squad that beat Le Havre.

Lens preview

Les Sang et Or followed up a great win at Nimes with an awful home display against Amiens. Teams like Lens really should have way too much for the newly promoted minnows, yet struggled to create chances and probably deserved to lose. Lens were highly frustrated in that game and maybe playing on the road will suit them better. This is a side which does seem better equipped on the break so maybe results will be better on the road this year. It’s difficult to know exactly which Lens will turn up here, the good bad or the ugly? They have shown more faces than Big Ben so far this campaign and look fairly unpredictable.

Conclusion & betting analysis

If Troyes continue their upward curve, then odd of 2.0 on a DNB handicap available on them here might look like a really big price come the end of the night. The problem is I went against Lens the last time they played away and got badly stung when they beat Nimes. After that I backed them vs Amiens and they lost! I’m sick of Lens games already this year so I’m going to leave this one alone. I have no idea if the good or bad Lens will turn up. But my gut feeling is for them to lose this game and for the match to contain over 2.5 goals. I was slightly tempted by backing over 2.25, but the odds aren’t quite juicy enough. This might be a decent match to watch and fairly open, I’d expect quite a few chances in it.

Prediction: 2-1
Recommended bet: None