Monthly Archives: December 2016

France Ligue 1 – Monaco v Caen Preview (22/12/16)

Monaco preview

  • Defeat at home to Lyon on Sunday night ended a really good run of results and ensured they won't be top of the table heading into the winter break.
  • Monaco had been excellent at home prior to the Lyon loss. Their stats here read 7-1-1 with a goal difference of +22.
  • The south coast club have been playing some highly impressive football this season and the only real question mark is if the OL result proves to be a minor blip or something which carries over into this fixture.
  • Left back Benjamin Mendy is suspended but everyone else is available. The squad is in excellent condition.

Caen preview

  • Just like Monaco, their only absence is left back Emmanuel Imorou who has been out of action for a while now. Everyone else of significance is fully available and the exact same squad that beat Metz 3-0 on Sunday is retained.
  • That victory moved them out of the relegation zone and was a much needed boost. Caen have generally struggled this season and have one of the worst defensive records in the league.
  • The visitors also have the worst road record in Ligue 1. They've lost 7 out of 8 contests with the only point obtained a 0-0 draw at Bordeaux. Those are pretty horrific stats.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • A whopping 10/12 Monaco wins this season have been by at least a two goal margin. The expectation is that they win, and win well tonight to get back on track.
  • The bookies are all aware of this fact, offering a measly -1.75 handicap. For this bet to fully win then Monaco would have to prevail by three clear goals. This is something that’s quite possible with this team, but taking these sort of handicaps isn’t normally recommended in French football.
  • Likewise, a massive 3.25 goal line is offered. This has every chance of covering when you consider Monaco’s offensive juggernaut. Caen might also hit the back of the net if they come here looking to attack.
  • This is a tough one. I think Monaco should win fairly easily but I’m not sure I’m happy to take such a big handicap or goal line. The value simply isn’t there.
  • All Monaco will want to do is win. Perhaps Sunday’s loss might have knocked them back a little bit too. So I’ll play it safe and not get involved, but the logical outcome is a convincing home win.

Prediction: 3-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Reims v Troyes Preview (19/12/16)

Reims preview

  • The Champagne outfit blew a 2-0 lead against Orleans last Monday night. It was a match they really should’ve won, but amazingly nearly ended up losing it!
  • Michel der Zakarian’s men have a superb home record this term, winning 7 out of 8 contests. They’ve only conceded four goals in front of their own fans and usually dominate contests here at Le Stade Auguste Delaune.
  • Key centre back Julien Jeanvier is still ruled out because of injury and their backline has looked much more shaky without him. Captain Anthony Weber returns from suspension, but he has looked dodgy recently. Antoine Conte is unlikely to play for the club again after his assault.
  • Reims have been injury ravaged all year and a number of players remain on the sidelines. Striker Jordan Siebatcheu is the latest casualty after suffering a nasty injury last Monday night. Key playmaker out wide, Pablo Chavarria is still unavailable.

Troyes preview

  • After a long unbeaten run, Troyes have slowed down a bit. Defeat to Brest and then a 1-1 draw at home to lowly Auxerre has stalled their progress.
  • Their away record is just mediocre, but have proved they can deliver some solid results on the road. ESTAC aren’t to be underestimated.
  • Troyes have become a hard team to beat and have really improved since the start of the season. Defenders like Herelle and Giraudon have really upped their game. The former missed last week’s draw but returns to the squad tonight.
  • Midfielder Karim Azamoum is still injured though, which is a blow. He’s been in pretty good form this season. Everyone else is available, minus Tristan Dingome who’s now been out for a while.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • The last Ligue 2 match of 2017 is a derby between two great and historic rivals. Only an hour separates the two cities and both teams will be giving 110% tonight.
  • Troyes didn’t get the better of many teams in Ligue 1 last season but did hold a winning record against Reims. They've actually not lost any of the last five derbies, so definitely hold an edge in this department.
  • It’s no surprise to see Reims favourites. They are priced up on a -0.25 handicap around the 1.85 mark which looks about fair. Their home record has to be respected, even if they don’t always look too convincing.
  • I don’t fancy backing them though because they’ve conceded too many goals and made too many mistakes recently. They are a team who probably need the winter break just to recharge and to get more players back fit.
  • Troyes are a good team and hard to beat. They have perhaps lost their swagger a bit following a great winning run which recently ended. There are some question marks about them too, although I think they can get at least a draw here.
  • The goal line is set at 2.25 and this seems about right. I could see this game ending with exactly two goals and I don’t fancy backing the overs. It could be a very interesting game and a hot derby, but I’m happy to leave it alone.

Prediction: 1-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Monaco v Lyon Preview (18/12/16)

Monaco preview

  • The south coast side are absolutely flying. For sure, they are playing the best football in France right now and scoring goals at will.  Their total of 53 goals in 17 games is pretty outrageous.
  • Monaco have absolutely thrashed some teams this season. A massive 10 of their 12 victories have been by at least two clear goals and in many cases the margin of victory was even greater. Things don’t look to be slowing down either and they absolutely hammered Rennes 7-0 in the midweek cup.
  • The squad is at full strength with no injuries or suspensions. It’s up to the coach now to pick the right XI for this match. Some tough decisions will have to be made but Monaco are a strong unit and there seems to be a great togetherness here.

Lyon preview

  • The visitors are also at full strength, although midfielder Corentin Tolisso could miss out due to a niggling injury. Lyon have few excuses in this department and coach Bruno Genesio also has some big decisions to make.
  • Lyon have won 5 of their last 6 games and been playing quite well recently. A win here would move them up to fourth place, although beating Monaco on their own patch will be difficult right now.
  • Lyon can be prone to mistakes, especially at the back. They were lucky that their fixture with Metz got abandoned because it looked like they were heading towards defeat. The backline can be really soft when tested by good players and that is my major concern here.
  • Having said that, the visitors have won their last three official away games and if things click well then they have dangerous players like Lacazette who can kill any side.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • This is a real heavyweight clash between two of the best sides in France. Monaco seem unstoppable right now and are capable of putting any side to the sword.
  • It’s understandable that they are favourites around the 1.87 mark. Unfortunately, this price isn’t quite tempting enough to me. Lyon are no mugs and there are a number of ways in which they could cause problems to Monaco tonight.
  • They also have a good recent record against Leonardo Jardim’s men, unbeaten in the last five meetings inside 90 mins. Last season, Lyon hammered them 6-1 so there’s some talk of revenge. But is it possible OL are a slight bogey team for them?
  • The goal line is set between 2.75 and 3, which is really high for French football. This has every chance of ending over, but there are a couple of things that concern me. The first is that Lyon coach Bruno Genesio has suggested they will be more defensively organised.
  • The other problem is that sometimes these heavyweight fixtures simply don’t deliver and both sides are scared of losing, almost over respecting each other.
  • Gun to my head I would back Monaco and over 2.75 goals but I just don’t think the value is there for either. There are enough dangers to prevent both bets from failing and the prices just aren’t where I want them.
  • This should be another good match to watch and it could definitely offer some good in-running potential. However, pre game I’ll stay disciplined and refrain from betting.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Marseille v Lille Preview (18/12/16)

Marseille preview

  • It feels like OM are back on the rise again. After a steady start, new coach Rudi Garcia has overseen an improvement in results. The hosts have only lost 2 of their 8 ligue games since he took charge.
  • Unlike last season, Marseille have been much better at home this term, winning 5 and drawing 3 games. Nobody has beaten them at Le Stade Velodrome yet. Even more remarkably, OM have only conceded a single goal in front of their own fans!
  • Squad condition is very good right now. Only left back Henri Bedimo is a significant absentee. Key midfielder Lass Diarra returns to the matchday group, but might have to be content with a place on the bench. Striker Bafetimbi Gomis is rated doubtful.
  • OM suffered embarrassment in the midweek Coupe de la Ligue, getting knocked out by Ligue 2 side Sochaux on Tuesday night. They could be extra motivated to respond from that disappointing outcome.

Lille preview

  • Interim coach Patrick Collot is unbeaten in his four games in charge. Lille have won their last three consecutive fixtures and looked much improved. Suddenly now, they are in the lower reaches of midtable and looking upwards.
  • The squad had been healthier recently but now they have all sorts of injury problems again. The main issues are in midfield and attack. The likes of De Preville and Obbadi are ruled out, whilst others might be playing hurt.
  • LOSC will probably have to rely on defence here and Collet has overseen back to back clean sheets in away games. They’ll have to dig in again if they are to obtain anything here and tactics are likely to be quite negative.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Marseille are favourites on a -0.25 handicap around the 1.85 mark, and this seems about fair. They’ve been strong at home this season, unbeaten and difficult to penetrate. However, Lille are no mugs and been in good form recently.
  • I expect OM to dominate possession and create most of the chances. Lille will be on the back foot a lot, hoping to soak up pressure. Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has been in great form recently so watch out for him making a string of saves.
  • I think a tight OM win or a low scoring draw is the most likely outcome. Marseille don’t always find it easy to penetrate opponents and they will be tested hard by a stout Lille backline. If Gomis misses out then they’ll also lack a strong physical presence upfront.
  • The over/under line is set at 2.0 and this also feels about right. I’d say this match has a better chance of ending under, but both teams have been scoring some goals recently.
  • Overall, I’m not going to get involved here. I just don’t see an obvious standout bet. Gun to my head, I’d back Marseille -0.25 and under 2. But I’m not at all confident and this affair is probably best left alone.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Nice v Dijon Preview (18/12/16)

Nice preview

  • Remarkably still top of the table after drawing 2-2 away against PSG last weekend. Les Aiglons did blow a 2-0 lead in that fixture but should be happy with the outcome.
  • Lucien Favre’s men are unbeaten at the Allianz Riviera this season, winning seven and drawing two games here. This place has been a real fortress and Nice are extremely formidable in front of their own fans.
  • Mario Balotelli should start this game after dealing with recent injuries. With their key striker upfront, the south coast side are far more dangerous. He offers them so much both technically and physically.
  • The hosts do have issues in defence though. The fullback duo Dalbert and Ricardo are both ruled out of this match so Nice could be vulnerable to Dijon wingers.

Dijon preview

  • Les Rouges are a side with plenty of spirit and character but when all's said and done, they’ve only won 1 of their last 10 games. As a result, the visitors are only outside of the relegation by virtue of goal difference.
  • Defeat against Marseille last time out was harsh, they put plenty into the game. Prior to that they came from 1-3 down to draw at Caen, and even managed to hold Monaco. They aren’t to be underestimated and have drawn a lot of games this season.
  • Midfielder Jordan Marie is injured and will miss out here. Marvin Martin & Florent Balmont are also casualties in this area, but both have been absent for quite some time now. Dijon are at full strength everywhere else.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Yet another PSG shock defeat on Saturday should give Nice more hope that they can ‘do a Leicester’ and win the Ligue 1 title. Victory here would put them seven points clear of the Parisiens, although Monaco are their nearest rivals right now.
  • It’s no surprise to see Nice a -1 Asian handicap favourite. They’ve had such a stellar season and are of course the better team. Dijon are a plucky side though and won’t have any fear. They are also capable of taking the attack to their opponents.
  • The goal line is set at 2.75 and this is actually an odds-on shot. I actually think this game will end over, but that sort of line isn’t something I like to back in Ligue 1 very often. What if Dijon came and parked the bus? I don't think they will, but it has happened in some games.
  • Everyone is expecting Nice to win easily and this could add extra pressure to them. I have a feeling Dijon will be much more competitive than many believe. Ultimately, it might be they fall short but if I had to bet anything, then the visitors +1 would probably be my selection.
  • I’m happy to leave the game alone. This is a very intriguing fixture though, well worth watching and could offer some decent in-running opportunities.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Rennes v Bastia Preview (17/12/16)

Rennes preview

  • The Brittany outfit have been going along alright recently, although were thumped 7-0 by Monaco in the cup midweek. Ok, this was only a cup match but it's hardly ideal.
  • Rennes have been very good at home this season, winning 7 and drawing 2 contests.  This stadium has become a fortress again.
  • Squad in good condition most of their injuries are long term.

Bastia preview

  • Beat Metz 2-0 last week which was their first win in a while and came as a big relief.
  • Bastia aren't usually know for getting good away results and their overall stats are pretty awful. However, it's rare they get blown out and tend to play close contests in which they make themselves difficult to break down.
  • The Corsicans are still missing a few defenders but for the most part the squad isn't in bad condition.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Rennes are 1.70 favourites here and I'd say it's likely they'll return to winning ways. However, that price is acting too skinny and a -0.75 handicap wouldn't intereste me because Bastia don't get beaten up big very often.
  • This could be an over or under affair, I'm not entirely sure. I expect Rennes to dominate possession and chances. Bastia will probably only be a threat from set pieces and the odd break.
  • The most likely outcome is a 1-0 or 2-0 home win but overall I'm happy to avoid this game. Rennes should win it but it might also be a trap game for them.

Prediction:1-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Toulouse v Nancy Preview (17/12/16)

Toulouse preview 

  • TFC have won 2 of their last 3 games, albeit unconvincgly against Montpellier and Lorient respectively. They were arguably second best in both contests.
  • Toulouse do however have to be respected at home. pascal Dupraz has won most matches in charge at this stadium with only Lyon and Metz ever getting the better of him.
  • Theyve been suffering from a number of injuries recently and there are question marks surrounding a few players once again, especially in defence.

Nancy preview

  • The promoted outfit have definitely improved recently. They've only lost 2 of their last 8 games which were against Monaco and OM which is no disgrace. Nancy should be buoyed by their midweek cup win against St Etienne as well.
  • If you take away those aforementioned losses, the Lorraine side have kept 6 out of 7 clean sheets and their defensive organisation is good against most normal teams in this division.
  • Squad condition good with few injuries or suspensions to worry about.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Toulouse have won the last six H2H meetings but I'm not sure they will win today. Nancy are a very solid side and will keep it tight at the back. They managed to hold an offensive side like Montpellier to a 0-0 draw and could frustrate TFC.
  • I haven't been massively convinced by the hosts recently. They are priced around the 1.95 mark which feels too short. Their home record has to be respected but I sense a tricky evening.
  • The goal line is set at 2.0 which is low for a Toulouse game. But it takes two to tango and I'm not sure Nancy are here to dance. I think the best thing to do overall is not bet here, it's a dangerous match.

Prediction: 1-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Lorient v St Etienne Preview (17/12/16)

Lorient preview

  • Les Merlus recent revival was ended in Toulouse last week when they lost a thriller 2-3. In terms of performance they actually played quite well, but once again a weak defence let them down.
  • In fairness to new coach Bernard Casoni, they've picked up 5 points in 5 games under him, which isn't that bad.
  • Midfielder Arnold Mvuemba is suspended and striker Majeed Waris is rated doubtful. However, for the most part the squad is in good condition.

St Etienne preview

  • Laboured to an undeserved 1-0 win against Guingamp last week. But Sainte are inconsistent and aren't a current mid table side for nothing. They are very up and down.
  • Have one of the highest under 2.5 rates in the entire division. Their defence is quite good and goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier has been playing at a very high level this season. The custodian is however ruled out here which is a major blow.
  • As per usual they have a number of other injuries across the board. There's uncertainty about the lineup and the team seems to change week in week out.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Lorient are DNB favourites here which is probably about fair. Their form has improved under Casoni and Sainte are inconsistent. However, due to the unreliability of the hosts I don't dare back them.
  • Here we have a strong over team vs a strong under outfit. I do think that Lorient will suck their opponents into a shoot out though and this could be an open game.
  • Jessy Moulin isn't a bad backup, but one of the big reasons for so many Sainte under games this season was due to keeper Stephane Ruffier. With him out, it really increases the chances of Lorient scoring more.
  • The goal line is set at 2.25 around the 1.90 mark. every single Casoni game since taking charge has contained a lot of goals and I think this is worth taking. I could see someone winning this 2-1, or by a bigger margin.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.25 goals @ 1.86

Minimum odds acceptable: 1.70

France Ligue 1 – Montpellier v Bordeaux Preview (17/12/16)

Montpellier preview

  • The last time that MHSC played at home they claimed a shock 3-0 win against PSG. That however, was their only win in five games and they remain rooted in midtable.
  • The south coast club have kept consecutive clean sheets at home but for the majority of this season they’ve had big problems at the back conceding a lot of goals. They play with too much of an open style.
  • Key playmaker Ryad Boudebouz is ruled out of this match because of injury. This is a major blow because he’s their best player and he has great technical skills.
  • The rest of the squad is in ok condition. Left back Jerome Roussillon remains out and this is an area in which Bordeaux will try and test them.

Bordeaux preview

  • Suffered a hugely disappointing 0-4 loss at home to Monaco last week. Bordeaux were just dreadful in all aspects and outplayed by a top quality side.
  • Jocelyn Gourvenecc’s men have now only won 2 of their last 10 games. They started the season well but are currently loitering in midtable and don’t appear to have great momentum.
  • Les Girondins have injury problems across the board. Their most notable fresh absences here are left back Youssouf Sabaly and midfielder Jeremy Toulalan. A number of other players will miss out too.
  • Bordeaux have drawn all of their last four away games and can be difficult to beat on the road.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • This is a tough one. I sense that both sides might be a little flat heading into the contest. Montpellier had that great win against PSG but have since lost in the league and also got knocked out of the cup in midweek.
  • Bordeaux did manage to prevail in the cup but the memories of the Monaco loss are sure to linger. I have a feeling the coach will focus on defence in training this week. There is no way he’ll want them exposed like they were in that fixture.
  • Normally I’d fancy the overs here but I’m less sure with Ryad Boudebouz missing for Montpellier. He is probably worth a goal per game to them in a number of different ways. If Bordeaux are more solid than expected then this game could open up.
  • The goal line is set at 2.25 around the 1.80 mark, which is just a little too short. I have a nagging feeling this game might end with exactly two goals in it, with possibly a 1-1 draw the most likely outcome.
  • So overall I’m not going to bet this match. The overs are tempting, but not tempting enough.

Prediction: 1-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Lens v GFC Ajaccio Preview (17/12/16)

Lens preview

  • Defeat away against Strasbourg last weekend (1-3) ended a run of six unbeaten games. It was just their second loss of the season and was probably a slight shock to their system.
  • A victory here would move them up to joint second in the table. Les Sang et Or still drop too many points at home but have looked better of late, converting more draws into victories.
  • Squad condition is close to perfect with no suspensions and virtually no injuries. Nobody of significance misses out anyway.

GFC Ajaccio preview

  • The Corsican outfit have been highly inconsistent this season and their previous match against local city rivals Ajaccio proves the point. Out of nowhere, they delivered a 4-1 win which surprised everyone.
  • The Corsicans are usually pretty goal shy and struggle to hit the back of the net. In total, 7 of their 18 goals scored have come in two fixtures. They haven't really done a lot else.
  • Recent away form has been very poor, losing 3 out of 4 games and scoring just one goal in the process. This isn't too much of a surprise, for an island based team it’s never easy on the road.
  • Squad condition is good, although veteran midfielder David Ducourtioux is suspended. He is still surprisingly important to the team despite being 38 years old now.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • I like Lens here and I think they can deliver victory. They have the better players and are quite simply the better team overall. This is their last match before the winter break and are sure to be well supported by a large crowd.
  • GFC had a good win last week but they don’t convince me away from home. Their results have been completely deserved and the lack of chances they create is worrying.
  • Lens don’t score enough goals for my liking and their finishing touch can desert them sometimes. This is why they draw too many games but I think they have enough about themselves to keep a clean sheet today. One goal might be enough to take victory.
  • The hosts are priced bigger than I expected too. I honestly thought we’d see Lens around the 1.85 mark, just to win. Instead, they can be grabbed on a -0.25 handicap around 1.80.
  • This is important because they are quite prone to draws. But I really see them delivering quite a complete performance today and they should dominate the contest in all aspects.

Prediction: 2-0

Recommended bet 1 unit: Lens -0.25 @ 1.81

Minimum odds acceptable: 1.65