Clermont are a team that I rate very highly. They have only lost 2 of their last 14 games and can at times play some excellent football which is nice on the eye to watch. They did lose last time out away at Paris FC 3-0 though and I wonder how much this will set them back. Of more concern are some fitness problems within the camp. Midfielder Manuel Perez misses out here which is a blow because they've had an extremely settled midfield/attack in recent weeks, near enough going unchanged for the last 7 games in this department. Perez started the season on the ACL injured list but back then they had Lorenzo Rajot available, but he is ruled out for the rest of the year and their squad depth could be exposed. The defence meanwhile doesn’t have any official abenes, but a number of players including Nsimba, Ogier, Sissoko and Phojo have been suffering fitness concerns in the last week or so due to injury or illness so might not be operating at full capacity.
Lens meanwhile, surprised me by beating Brest in their last fixture. Things hadn't been going well for Les Sang et or and that success managed to break a five game winless run. Prior to that they had come back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Lorient so the team clearly has some momentum right now. Their squad is in prime condition today apart from long term central defenders JK Duverne and Aleksandar Radovanovic who are both sidelined due to torn ACLs. If Clermont were at peak condition I would totally back them on a -0.25 Asian Handicap but I have a feeling Lens could take advantage of some of their defensive concerns today. I’m convinced the best bet is over 2 goals. Lens away games tend to have a history of containing goals and in recent times they had a wild 2-4 loss at Valenciennes and an exciting 2-2 draw at Les Havre. Something like a 2-2 outcome wouldn’t surprise me again and the overs are definitely my fancy here.
The goal line for this match is a genuine 1.75, in fact some would argue it is close to 1.5! Even for French Ligue 2 standards this is a really low goal line, a bit too low if you ask me even though I wouldn't necessarily fancy goals. Paris FC matches this season average just 1.5 goals in them which is much lower than anyone else. However, there have been situations where Grenoble fixtures have exploded into life with the right goal at the right time. 0-0 is certainly a possibility here but all it takes is one mistake, a moment of brilliance or a mistake for someone to get ahead. In fact, some of Paris FC’s recent away performance lead me to think Grenoble could nick this game 1-0.
I would personally say the odds are the wrong way around here. Chateauroux should probably be favourites in between a DNB and -0.25 line. Auxerre have been going well recently but are missing two players tonight, Jordan Adeoti (DM) and Remy Dugimont (ATT), both of whom have been playing well recently. Chateauroux have a couple of suspensions of their own and I see this being quite a tight match where one goal could prove the difference between the two teams. It’s a 0-0 candidate and both teams tend to be involved in fairly low scoring games at the moment. I think under 2.25 is worth backing because the true goal line for this game is more around the 2.0 side. Attacking firepower anc chances could be limited and taking this line means still some profit if exactly 2 goals are scored.
Nancy have shown real improvement under the management of Alain Perrin. He has trusted some youth players who are clearly hungrier and had more motivation than some established players, who had been quite frankly crap under the previous regime. Despite all this, I still get a feeling that Nancy are a work in progress and they only beat Red Star, Orleans and obtained a draw with Ajaccio recently. None of those teams are playing well right now and Troyes will be a much tougher test. ESTAC have won 8 of their last 11 games and I think it probably would be a surprise if they got beat tonight. I sense a draw and nothing really appeals from a betting point of view because all lines offered seem extremely fair.
There has been a very interesting development ahead of this match. Niort head coach Patrice Lair resigned his position, supposedly for ‘personal reasons’ This is despite the team doing remarkably well in 6th position, much much better than anyone expected this season. Lair instilled a new level of discipline and has especially improved the defence. There were some rumours of certain players not happy with his methods but also he has made quotes about how poor the facilities are at Niort. Either way, I am sure the team will be affected negatively by this development. Lorient are one of the stronger teams in the division and can take advantage of this IMO. It doesn't help Niort’s cause that key defender Ibrahima Conte isn’t available for this match due to his parent club being Lorient. I like the idea of taking the hosts on a handicap here and see something like a 2-0 or 3-0 win.
I keep waiting for Le Havre to actually string together a bunch of victories or go on a decent unbeaten run, but it never seems to materialise. On the face of things, this would appear to be a good opportunity. GFCA aren’t a great team, and although improved since their manager change a month or two ago it is definitely Le Havre who are the better team here. Whether they can be trusted as a -0.25 away favourite is rather dubious at the moment and any value is probably with GFCA in all honesty. HAC at least have striker Tino Kadewere at their disposal and presumably he will be in the XI again after scoring in what was his first ever start for the club in their previous Ligue 2 fixture. I’m predicting an away win, but I am not at all sure here and if Le Havre cocked up here by even losing I wouldn’t be surprised.
This the sort of match Brest really should be winning. They suffered defeat away at Lens last time out, a result that surprised me but it must be said that in terms of raw power and strength it’s no disgrace. That loss ended a 12 game unbeaten run but they have an ideal chance to get straight back on the horse vs a Beziers outfit who have suddenly looked a little bit out of their depth in recent matches. They got battered by Clermont 2-0 - and it should've been more, and followed that up by losing to Grenoble 3-0. They will be plucky here and show plenty of fight. But the extra class of Brest should see them through with a bit to spare, so taking the home team on a -1 Asian line looks like the best way to go.
Here we have a battle between top and bottom of the table and it could turn into a bit of a mis-match. I think it’s fair to say that Metz haven’t been at their best in recent weeks an you have to go back as far as mid October for the last time they were truly dominate in a match when they beat Niort 3-0. Since then, Les Grenats have had to labour their way and grind out some victories - goalscoring has been reduced in the team. But this is still a quality squad with plenty of depth and they can even rotate tonight if needed. I expect to see a few changes to freshen up the side, which might actually do them some good.
Red Star travel here in really poor form and it’s clear they are the worst side in Ligue 2 at the moment. A change of coach hasn’t really helped matters. They managed to fluke a 1-1 draw at Brest which is their only crumb of comfort in the last few weeks. Red Star have been hammered 0-3 at home to Beziers & Troyes and also lost at Nancy 1-0, but it could've been by a bigger margin. I just don’t see much hope for this team, they look far too disjointed and lack overall quality. Metz should be able to assert their authority on the fixture and I’m surprised a -1.25 Asian line can be backed around the even money mark. I think it should be a shorter price and this is an ideal chance for Les Grenats to get back to claiming a comfortable victory.
This is a meeting between two promoted teams and the H2H fixtures ended 0-0 and 2-0 (to Grenoble) respectively last season. Both sides have equipped themselves really well in Ligue 2, especially Grenoble who find themselves on 28 points and in promotion contention. They picked up a creditable 1-1 draw vs Metz at the weekend and before that held Lens 0-0 away. Grenoble have won 3 of their last 4 road games and will fancy their chances against a Beziers side yet to win in front of their own fans. Of course, things haven’t been helped by the fact that they aren’t playing at their natural home and instead forced to reside at Stade de la Mediterranee (rugby stadium in Beziers). They even had to play one game at a neutral venue in Montpellier so it’s no real surprise to see their home statistics reading 0-3-3.
I fancy Grenoble to win this game but their price isn’t that great. I am not personally convinced they deserve to be -0.25 favourites here and I would say a DNB line is fairer. They also had one day less to prepare for this fixture and might have exerted themselves a lot vs Metz on Saturday. Both sides are missing some players to injury in defensive areas and it’s possible there could be some rotation due to this being a midweek round. I think the value lies with over 2 goals. It’s noticeable that a lot of Grenoble road games have contained a good number of goals, apart from at Lorient and Lens when they were more defensive. This is the sort of fixture they should fancy winning though and I expect a more expansive game. It’s the sort of game in which neither should fear losing and fancy winning, so I think the overs is the best shout.