Monthly Archives: January 2017

France Ligue 2 – Red Star v Reims Preview (30/1/17)

Red Star preview

  • The Parisian outfit completed a shock victory away at Brest last Monday night (1-0). They were excellent for at least an hour of that contest and fully deserved to lead. Red Star had to dig deep late on but managed to hold out for the win.
  • It was the first success for new joint manager combination Pires - Robin. I am never personally a fan of this sort of arrangement but for now there should be improved morale around the club.
  • Striker Anatole Ngamukol is suspended and this is a blow because he’s a key focal point of their attack. He’s not prolific but offers a strong presence upfront. I don’t expect many other changes to the XI though.
  • We still don’t know the real style of Red Star under their new management duo. So it’s best to be cautious for a while. They were surprisingly positive against Brest last week which marked a change from the previous regime when they were pretty negative.

Reims preview

  • The Champagne side have started 2017 with just one point and have yet to score a goal. This rather sums up their major problem this season, just 23 goals scored in 21 games is a fairly poor return for a team with genuine promotion aspirations.
  • For once, Reims don’t have a bad injury situation. A few players are still ruled out but most of their important starters are fit and ready.
  • Their away record is poor, with just 1 win in 11 games. It’s true they’ve faced some good sides on their travels and drawn six of those contests, but recent poor results at Orleans and Bourg-en-Bresse show their fragility on the road.
  • Reims do at least possess the best defensive record in Ligue 2. There was a period before Christmas when they looked more vulnerable at the back, but the return of big centre half Julien Jeanvier has made them look much more solid again.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Despite only having won a single away match this season, Reims are -0.25 favourites tonight. They have the better squad on paper but considering their road struggles, I consider them unbackable in this contest.
  • Red Star don’t really possess a strong home field advantage. Atmosphere at this stadium isn’t very intimidating and they are probably better suited to playing on the road themselves.
  • The victory picked up at Brest last Monday can’t be underestimated. It’s sure to give them some much needed confidence and eases the pressure on everyone. If they can beat Brest then there’s no reason why they can’t beat Reims.
  • If I had to choose a side, then It’d be Red Star +0.25. But I can’t trust them fully and sooner or later Reims will surely win again away from home, their squad is too talented for this poor run to continue.
  • However, tonight I think a low scoring draw or home win is likely. I’m going to avoid betting on the game though due a lot of uncertainty.

Prediction: 1-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – PSG v Monaco Preview (29/1/17)

PSG preview

  • The defending champions have started 2017 with 4/4 wins in all competitions. They look to have some of their confidence and swagger back.
  • For all their problems this season, nobody has yet beaten them at Le Parc des Princes. They’ve kept 8 out of 10 clean sheets in front of their own fans.
  • Serge Aurier only just came back from the African Nations cup so won’t feature. Midfielder Marco Verratti is injured and they’ll miss his tenacity.
  • Everyone else that matters is effectively available. New signing from Benfica, Goncalo Guedes is included in the squad and could make his debut.
  • A win would put them back on level terms with Monaco so the prize is big.

Monaco preview

  • A 100% start to the year has seen them move top of the table, capitalising upon Nice’s dropped points. Victory today would guarantee them a six point gap on PSG which would be crucial.
  • Monaco have played the best football out of anyone in Ligue 1 this season and their offensive strength can’t be underestimated. They have some fantastic playmakers and strikers in red hot form.
  • All season long they've been positive and I don’t think much will change here. It would be a mistake to become too timid and sit on the back foot and they know it.
  • Squad condition is perfect with only a couple of bench players still on African Nations duty. All of their big guns are ready and raring to go.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Both teams progressed in the midweek Coupe de la Ligue semi finals and will now meet in Lyon to contend the first piece of silverware at the start of April.
  • The result of this match could go a long way towards deciding the Ligue 1 crown. Monaco won the first meeting 3-1 and don’t have a bad record at this stadium in recent years.
  • Monaco have looked the better outfit in general, although PSG have improved since the start of 2017. Both attack forces are in good form so it’s no surprise to see a goal line priced between 2.75 and 3.
  • I am however surprised to see PSG as 1.55 favourites and priced on a -1 handicap. It’s true they have home advantage, but there's not a lot between these two teams right now.
  • Most sides just come to Paris and offer nothing but Monaco have so many threats going forward. I think their price is a bit of an insult. Leonardo Jardim is a better coach than Unai Emery and will probably have a stronger game plan.
  • I simply have to back Monaco +1. I think they can get something out of this match or at worst stay within a goal of PSG. The hosts aren’t the dominant selves they once were and are under a lot more pressure this season.
  • I think a fair line here would be PSG -0.25 around the 1.80 mark. So in my mind the oddsmakers are nearly 3 lines out! Even if PSG won comfortably I'd have no regrets. I just think they are seriously overrated in this clash.

Prediction: 2-2

Recommended bet 1 unit: Monaco +1 @ 1.94 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)

France Ligue 1 – Toulouse v St Etienne Preview (29/1/17)

Toulouse preview

  • TFC have lost their last three games, failing to score a goal during this period. They’ve been out of form for a while now, only winning 2 of their last 10 games.
  • All the early season magic and momentum Les Violets had at the back end of last season seems to have deserted them a bit.
  • Centre back Steeve Yago & midfielder Yann Bodiger are both missing but everyone else of significance is available.
  • Toulouse are generally pretty strong at home under Pascal Dupraz, but defeats against Metz and Nantes here show that perhaps this place isn’t the fortress it once was.

St Etienne preview

  • Les Verts remain possibly the most inconsistent side in Ligue 1 capable of literally anything on the given day. Three wins, four draws and three defeats in their last ten games prove that.
  • Sainte have absences all over the field. The most important is probably to goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier. They are missing a number of others, especially in attack.
  • New signing on the wings Anthony Mounier appears in the squad for the first time and could make his debut.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • This is a really tough match to predict. Literally anything is possible because both sides are capable of anything.
  • Toulouse have been out of form for a while but are strong at at home under Pascal Dupraz usually. It looks about fair they are favourites on a -0.25 handicap.
  • Sainte are wildly inconsistent but are usually an under team, not often involved in many high scoring matches. With Toulouse struggling offensively then it’s likely this match will contain few goals.
  • The goal line between 1.75 and 2 reflects this fact. One goal either way could be enough to pick up all three points.
  • This looks a good match to swerve. A low scoring draw is probable and I have no interest getting involved.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Nice v Guingamp Preview (29/1/17)

Nice preview

  • Successive draws, three in a row has enabled Monaco to overtake them at the top of the table. Nice have been misfiring in front of goal and been hit badly with absences.
  • As mans as five players return here though, including key midfielder Jean Michel Seri who returns from the African Nations earlier than expected.
  • Right back Ricardo and playmaker Younes Belhanda now remain the only notable injuries. Mario Balotelli sahould be sharper this week after playing the full 90 mins at Bastia last week.
  • Nice have an 8-3-0 home record and are unbeaten at the Allianz Riviera in Ligue 1 since Aurelian Favre took over at the helm.

Guingamp preview

  • The Brittany outfit have yet to win in 2017 and have actually only tasted victory in 2 of their last 10 encounters. They are are however situated in a comfortable seventh position.
  • Just 1 clean sheet kept in their last 10 games might pinpoint some of their problems. Defensively, they aren’t too bad but could certainly be tighter.
  • Guingamp have a couple of defenders unavailable, Aldo Angoula (inj) & Jordan Ikoko (CAN). Important midfielder Mustapha Diallo is suspended.  
  • Les Costamoricains have an ok away record, but it’s now been five matches since they last tasted victory on the road.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Remarkably, the away team has won 5 of the last 6 meetings but Guingamp would cause quite a shock by winning here. They have beaten Lyon, PSG and drawn with Monaco this season though and are no mugs.
  • Nice aren’t a bad price around the 2.0 mark and could even be backed on a -0.25 handicap at reasonable enough odds. However, they are under pressure to rediscover the winning touch and have yet to deliver a convincing display in 2017.
  • Over 2.25 goals is also worth considering but because the Nice attack has been misfiring then there's some doubt in this department too.
  • In their previous home game, Nice couldn’t even score against Metz which was a pretty poor effort. They were without several key players but it’s still a worrying sign.
  • A home win with both teams scoring is my best estimate here. I’m not quite confident enough with any bets though so I’ll reluctantly leave this game alone.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 1 – Lyon v Lille Preview (28/1/17)

Lyon preview

  • OL are in good form having won 8 of their last 10 games. It seems they’ve gotten their swagger back in recent matches after beating big rivals Monaco & Marseille respectively.
  • Lyon can still be vulnerable, as the shock defeat to Caen proved at the start of the month. In terms of performances though things have looked very good of late and their offensive juggernaut especially lively.
  • New signing Memphis Depay could potentially start here and will be at least guaranteed a bench spot. He is eager to impress and this is the sort of environment he should thrive in.
  • Lyon are at full strength minus Moktar Diakhaby at the back. The young centre back has been one of their revelations of the season and his presence in defence will be missed.

Lille preview

  • The visitors have started 2017 with three consecutive draws and have only lost 1 of their 8 games since Patrick Collot took over as interim manager.
  • Their league position has improved since Frederic Antonetti was sacked. However, in terms of raw talent and the quality available, Lille are definitely one of the big underachieving sides so far.
  • Their away record isn’t great (1-3-6) although has improved under Collot. I would expect them to try and contain Lyon as much as possible here.
  • A number of attackers are ruled out including Eder, Lopes, Mendes and youngster Terrier.
  • Five players remain on African Nations duty and they are affected badly in midfield too.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Lille are at full strength in defence but are missing so many other players that their options are limited. I’m sure they’ll set out their stall to defend and keep things tight, but Lyon might only need one or two goals to beat them today.
  • The hosts have looked pretty good in January and seem to have regained their attacking swagger. They have a number of players who can all unlock a defence and they’ll likely dominate possession today.
  • It’s no surprise to see Lyon favourites in between a -1 and -1.25 handicap. This looks like a good time to face Lille and they should win.
  • Something irks me about taking them though. Lille can be a resilient side and something like a 1-0 win is quite possible. This fixture ended 0-0 last season and the same scoreline can’t be ruled out again.
  • The extra quality of Lyon should shine through but I’m happy enough to leave them alone. The chances of an exact one goal win are quite high.
  • The goal line set at 2.75 seems a little high to me. Lille probably won’t contribute towards this too much and it’s possible Lyon might need to score four goals for this to cover. I would lean towards the unders if I had to choose.

Prediction: 1-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Amiens v Lens Preview (27/1/17)

Amiens preview

  • The hosts have only won 2 of their last 10 games and have become pretty inconsistent. However, a victory today would move them up to second place.
  • Christophe Pellisier’s men have been the big surprise package and continue to overachieve, but most people are expecting them to fade in the second half of the season.
  • Key centre back Jordan Lefort is suspended and this is a blow. He’s been one of the standout stars for Amiens this year, keeping things very tight at the back.
  • The rest of the squad is however in healthy condition apart from long term injuries.

Lens preview

  • Les Sang et Or have won 4 of their last 6 games and are currently situated second in the table. They missed a good opportunity last weekend by losing at home to an understrength Nimes (1-3).
  • Lens have struggled to keep clean sheets in the last couple of months, registering only 2 in their last 10 games. This is putting some pressure on their offense.
  • It’s been a while since Alain Cassanova’s men possessed a really good striker. They’ll hope the signing of Rennes loanee Kermit Erasmus can aid them going forwards.
  • Key left wing back Karim Hafeez continues to be on African Nations Cup duty. Nobody else is ruled out though and a similar squad that has been used in recent weeks has been selected.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Lens have a 5-4-2 away record which is the third best in Ligue 2. However, this will probably feel like a home game. Lens were based at this stadium for a whole season a couple of years ago and are sure to take loads of fans with them.
  • It’s a northern ‘derby’ game and the atmosphere should be intense! Both sides will be desperate to win and Amiens have the chance to complete a superb double over their illustrious rivals.
  • The bookies are struggling to separate either side and the line offered is DNB on both around the 1.95 mark. These odds look fair because home advantage is almost negated in this instance.
  • I rate Lens as the better team but I’m not interested in backing them in a derby game like this one. Literally anything could happen.
  • The goal line set between 1.75 and 2 looks a little bit generous and I considered backing it. Both teams have been involved in some higher scoring games of late. But the first meeting was a tight encounter and the same sort of thing might occur.

Prediction: 1-2

Recommended bet: None

Africa Cup of Nations – Senegal v Cameroon Preview (28/1/17)

Senegal preview

The Lions of Teranga were my idea of the potential winners of this tournament before a ball was kicked and my opinion hasn’t changed. They oozed class in the group stages, creating so many chances and looking like they could score at will. Defensively, there were a few question marks and perhaps some better teams might have taken advantage. But one thing we do know is that Senegal can outscore anyone if required and lean back on the likes of Sadio Mane to deliver the goods. Aliou Cisse’s men even had the luxury of resting all starters for the final group game. So everyone has had a nice rest and even the substitutes have had a full 90 mins under their belt to gain match fitness. Everything seems to be in fine working order for the newly installed tournament favourites.Probably the only team that can beat them themselves, should they feel the pressure mentally.

Cameroon preview

It would’ve been a cruel way to go out, but Cameroon were a post and save away from losing in the last minute to Gabon on the final group game. Defeat would’ve seen them exit the tournament but it would've been harsh because the Indomitable Lions were probably the best team in Group A overall. Somehow, it became a tough slog to make it through, a few chances missed here and there would’ve been to blame. Cameroon have impressed me from an offensive point of view in this event and possess dangerous players like Moukandjo, Bassagog & Aboubakar. There is a doubt whether Bassagog will be fit in time for this game and missing him would be a blow due to his good performances so far.

Conclusion & betting analysis

The way both these two teams play is lights out and attacking football. I don’t expect much to change here unless the occasion gets to each set of players. It is a big game but the strength of each outfit is in attack, not at the back. The first bet I like is Senegal on a -0.25 line. I rate them as the better side and with a full week of rest under their belt, this should aid them even more. Cameroon have just looked too soft in places and I expect someone like Sadio Mane and the opposition cavalry to take advantage. Cameroon should be able to fight fire with fire though and I expect them to score here. Senegal were lucky to keep a couple of clean sheets against Tunisia & Zimbabwe. Their ‘reserve’ team shipped goals facing Algeria and this is just the way Senegal play, wide open at times. Over 2 goals looks a really generous price close to the 2.08 mark. How can this line be so low when you consider how both have played in this tournament. This should be a wide open affair containing numerous chances so I’ll happily hit the over button here.

Prediction: Senegal 3-1 Cameroon

Recommended bet 1 unit: Senegal -0.25 @ 1.70 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2 goals @ 2.08 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)

Africa Cup of Nations – Burkina Faso v Tunisia Preview (28/1/17)

Burkina Faso preview

Draws against Cameroon and Gabon ultimately proved crucial for Burkina and a victory against Guinea Bissau secured their place as group winners. I think they’ve been good to watch in this tournament and have tried to get on the front foot as much as possible. Perhaps they should’ve scored more goals and in a game like this might need to be more clinical. Key playmaker Jonathan Pitroipa misses the rest of the tournament and Jonathan Zongo is out too. It’s just a case of other players stepping up to the plate. The two Traore brothers have looked quite good and Prince Nakoulma has been lively on the wings too. Burkina have threat on the counter attack and can’t be underestimated.

Tunisia preview

Perhaps the Eagles of Carthage have been the big surprise of the tournament so far. They lost against Senegal in the opening group game but dealt with this setback well. In that aforementioned game, it looked like they were too soft, lacking both physically and mentally. However, a much improved performance against Algeria and then an easy win against Zimbabwe has turned around their fortunes. It’s been noticeable how dangerous they’ve looked as a unit going forwards. The likes of Naim Sliti, & Youssef Msakni have especially been crucial towards their success. Tunisia are a good all round unit though and they have a top class defender in great form as well, Aymen Abdennour.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I personally rate Tunisia as the better side and I think they’ll win today. Burkina Faso have done well to make it this far but they really needed to be at full strength from this point onwards. Their defence should have conceded more goals and Tunisia look like the sort of side who will take advantage. I like the idea of backing the North African side on a -0.25 handicap around the 1.80 mark. At worst, I think they’ll take the game into extra time. This also feels like the sort of game which will end over. Both teams have demonstrated strong attacking tendencies. Neither is afraid to ‘go for it’ and the only danger is if everyone suddenly feels the pressure and tightens up. But with a goal line of 2.0 I can't really resist. Somehow, every Burkina game has contained exactly two goals this tournament, but realistically all of their contests should've gone over. It’s the same story with Tunisia and I expect a fairly open game overall.

Prediction: Burkina Faso 1-3 Tunisia

Recommended bet 1 unit: Tunisia -0.25 @ 1.82 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2 goals @ 1.90 (minimum odds acceptable 1.75)

France Ligue 2 – Nimes v Strasbourg Preview (27/1/17)

Nimes preview

  • Les Crocos have started 2017 surprisingly well. Despite some key absences they’ve picked up seven points from their last three games.
  • Once again, key striker Rachid Alioui will miss out due to African Nations Cup duty. Winger Christian Kouakou misses out too and midfielder Larry Azouni also remains in Africa.
  • Many people expected Nimes to struggle desperately without those three aforementioned players, but it seems the rest of the squad is stepping up nicely.
  • Les Crocos have surprisingly only won a single home match this season. They’ve drawn a whopping six times and remain hard to beat but their lack of goals and victories here has to be of concern.

Strasbourg preview

  • Le Racing didn’t play last week, their match got postponed. They’ve only played one game in 2017 so far, losing 4-3 to Amiens. There’s a chance they could lack match sharpness.
  • Prior to that Strasbourg won four games in a row to propel themselves back in the promotion race. RCS have been a bit ‘all or nothing’ for a while now failing to draw any of their last 11 games which is a really long run for any Ligue 2 side.
  • Key striker Khalid Boutaib (10 goals) is on African Nations duty but they have no other significant absentees to report.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • Nimes have really surprised me this month. I thought they would struggle but they’ve actually played some really nice football.
  • With both teams missing their leading scorer then I think it’s fair to say goals are less likely. This will probably be a pleasant match on the eye, but finishing could be poor and the end result a lower scoring draw.
  • The bookies have this match as a genuine ‘pick em’ and can’t separate either side on a DNB line. I have to admit I am also struggling to decide who I’d choose.
  • The match doesn’t interest me because I think there’s a high chance of a draw. If I had to pick someone then it’d be Nimes based on their recent good form.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Bourg-en-Bresse Preview (27/1/17)

Bourg-en-Bresse preview

  • Under the radar, Bourg have now gone nine games unbeaten. They are playing some really solid football right now and kept three consecutive clean sheets.
  • Bourg are in a comfortable midtable position right now and no team has drawn more than them this season (10 out of 2).
  • Squad condition is good with only leading scorer Lakdar Boussaha ruled out. He hasn’t featured for the last three games so they are used to life without him at least.

Ajaccio preview

  • The Corsican outfit have started 2017 with back to back wins and are playing quite well. They even put up a good fight against Monaco in the Coupe de France.
  • The squad is in perfect health apart from fullback Anthony Lippini who’s injured. The temperamental defender has been suspended all of 2017 though so it’s not really a factor.
  • Ajaccio won away at Troyes last time out but they are usually a terrible away team. Their stats for the season read 1-4-5 and it’s normal for them to struggle on the road.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • How can Bourg-en-Bresse be underdogs here? Somehow, they are 2.09 on a DNB handicap which is just plain wrong! What have Ajaccio done to deserve favouritism here?
  • Bourg are unbeaten in nine games and becoming really hard to beat. At these odds, I simply have to have a piece of them.
  • I don’t actually think Ajaccio will play that badly here. In an ideal world, I didn’t want to take them on. But they have such little success away from home I have no hesitation at this price.
  • Overall, I expect a close game of football. I can’t see many goals being scored. It’ll be a tight contest and hopefully Bourg-en-Bresse come out on top. I’m not surprised the goal line has creeped up to the 2.0 mark.

Prediction: 1-0

Recommended bet 1 unit: Bourg-en-Bresse DNB @ 2.09 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)