Monthly Archives: February 2020

MLS – Houston Dynamo v LA Galaxy Preview (29/2/20)

Match Preview

The last regular season match for both teams in 2019 was this exact same fixture. Back in October Houston beat LA Galaxy 4-2 in what was a wild encounter. Something similar should be expected again because both sides contain an abundance of attacking quality within their squads. Houston acquired Darwin Quintero from Minnesota United in what was a big off season move. The Colombian has a proven track record in this league and adds to what is already an impressive roster in the final third. The Dynamo have striker Mauro Manotas to lead their line and he is one of the best marksman in MLS. It’s probably a surprise he’s not been sold, likewise with star winger Alberth Elis. The Honduran international can be a frustrating figure and the general consensus is that he should probably score and create even more goals than he does. Houston also have the likes of Christian Ramirez to score them goals and he looked like a great signing from LAFC last season.

Travelling to Texas this weekend are an LA Galaxy side who are one of the favourites for the MLS Cup. But they head into the campaign without star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who after two years in MLS decided it was time to move on. The Swede had a sensational record at Galaxy, scoring 52 goals in 56 games which is ridiculously good! Obviously, losing him is a major blow but LA softened it somewhat by adding Javier Hernandez as a replacement. It will be interesting to see how ‘Chicharito’ gets on stateside. It has been a few years since he was last majorly prolific. Galaxy are counting on him to score them at least 20 goals in 2020. The supply line is certainly there. Cristian Pavon is top class and new signings Aleksander Katai and Sacha Kljestan should provide plenty of assists. Key defensive midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos is rated questionable for the visitors for this trip due to a combination injury and lack of match fitness. 

My big concern with both teams is defensively. The Galaxy offer more solidity in this department but often find themselves conceding too many. Houston have a lot of depth in defence but not necessarily much quality. Aljaz Struna was one of the highest paid centre backs in the league for Houston last season but didn’t fully live up to expectations. The Dynamo backline can be quite slow which often leads to them getting exposed. The bet I like is over 3 goals. This just feels like an obvious high scoring contender. Houston usually get out of the traps quite quickly whilst the Galaxy will want to assert their offensive strength on the game. I see both teams just trying to outscore each other in a shootout.

Prediction: 2-2

Recommended bet: Over 3 goals @1.82

MLS – Columbus Crew v New York City FC Preview (1/3/20)

Match Preview

Last season wasn’t one to remember fondly for the Crew. They finished 10th in the Eastern Conference and the key to their downfall was a shocking midseason run in which they lost 13 out of 15 games. If you took that out of their campaign though it wasn’t too bad. From mid July onwards the Crew actually ended quite strongly and competitively. Manager Caleb Porter perhaps did well to hang onto his job during that poor period but he has a good MLS record and the club stuck with him. Columbus can be encouraged heading into 2020. The Crew have added quality additions in all areas of the field. Powerful Dutch defender Vito Wormgoor comes in from Norwegian side Brann and he will add some much needed steel to the backline. Darlington Nagbe is one of the top players in MLS and could totally transform their midfield, whilst new designated player Lucas Zelayaran should shine in the playmaker department. The Crew already have plenty of quality options in their squad, such as key striker Gyasi Zardes and his backup Fanendo Adi.

The biggest change for New York City is in the managerial department. Norwegian Ronny Deila replaces Dom Torrent and his target is to finally make NYC into a formidable postseason force. They need a deep run towards the MLS Cup. The Eastern Conference champions will face a much sterner test in their own division this year and perhaps a few sides might overtake them. Deila is a good coach but his sides can be quite inconsistent and go missing in some games, especially defensively. However, when things do click New York City could be irresistible. I was impressed with how good they looked in the recent CONCACAF Champions League, especially from a physical point of view. Deila clearly wants his side to play on the front foot and in the likes of Maxi Moralez, Alexandru Mitrita & Heber he has some excellent technical players to work with.

I think both teams could have decent campaigns. The Crew especially have the ability to surprise after such a poor 2019. The home side are -0.25 favourites which might be on the generous side, but perhaps fair considering it’s the opening round of the season. The bet I like is over 2.75 goals though. The pre season signs are that Columbus have plenty of goals in them at the moment and will certainly look to attack. NYCFC should fight fire with fire and have a proper go themselves. The only slight concern is perhaps the cold Ohio weather which could limit the players. But there is plenty to suggest that at least three goals will be netted here.

Prediction: 3-1

Recommended bet: Over 2.75 goals @2.01

France Ligue 2 – Lorient v Chambly Preview (29/2/20)

Match Preview

Whatever happens here Lorient will have a four point lead at the top of the table. But a victory would put them 7 points clear and in a really strong automatic promotion position. FCL recently lost a couple of games but managed to prevail 1-0 away at Rodez last week. They should in theory have too much for Chambly here but the visitors can be really awkward opposition in their 5-4-1 formation which is hard to break down. Lorient have won 9 out of 13 games at home this season and possess the quality and class required to unlock these types of defences but all they need to do is win in whatever fashion, even if it’s ugly. This is why I’m reluctant to take them on a -1 Asian Handicap. Chambly are still fighting for their lives to secure survival and have one of the best defences in the league on the road. I think the most likely outcome here is a Lorient win by exactly one goal so I’m not going to bother betting. Under 2.25 might not actually be a bad play because Chambly will just keep trying to defend even if they fall behind. The match is unlikely to open up into anything exciting.

Prediction: 1-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Auxerre v Niort Preview (28/2/20)

Match Preview

Auxerre lost 1-3 away against local rivals Trpyes on Monday night. They had to play the entire second half with 10 men and looked a bit ragged in the end. AJA have known for a while they weren’t going to be in any sort of promotion contender and now they actually have to look down rather than up. Should they lose this match then the relegation door would potentially be just 3 points away.  A much improved Niort under new manager Franck Passi travel here tonight. The visitors have won 2 of their last 3 games and appear much more positive with Passi at the helm. They have started to climb above Le Mans and currently reside in the relegation playoff position. Auxerre are a weird side who can be very hit or miss. All too often I’ve seen them in this odds on position at home and fail to deliver. Draws are often their achilles heel at this stadium. I suspect we might get an open game though based on how Niort have approached things recently. Over 2 goals certainly has some appeal in my opinion.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet: Over 2 goals @1.84

France Ligue 2 – Valenciennes v Ajaccio Preview (28/2/20)

Match Preview

Ajaccio just keep getting the job done and now sit second in the table after Lens’ recent mishaps. I still can’t believe they will have enough to secure automatic promotion but this team are churning out results so fair play to them. They travel to Valenciennes tonight with the best away record in the league. ACA have fantastic 9-2-2 road stats, I can never ever remember them playing  this well away from home before. This might be a good time to take on a Valenciennes team that has definitely gone off the rails recently with just 1 win in 5 games. However, VAFC do have the 3rd best home record in the division and are very hard to beat in front of their own fans. A midtable spot would be fine for Valenciennes this season but if they do have any remaining promiron ambitions then victories are what they need. I wouldn’t actually be surprised if this is a more open game than some people imagine. But VA have so many under 2.5 affairs the prospect of another low scorer can never be ruled out. Nothing interests me from a betting point of view and I think this is a really difficult match to predict so I’ll leave it alone.

Prediction: 1-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Sochaux v Rodez Preview (28/2/20)

Match Preview

Neither team have been blessed with many victories in recent times. For Sochaux it’s just 1 win in 12 games, which came against struggling Le Mans. The only success for Rodez since the winter break was at rock bottom Orleans. Escaping the drop would be a success for both teams this year and Sochaux have a nice 8 point cushion ahead of the relegation zone right now. Rodez are just about keeping their heads above water as well. I don’t anticipate this match being much of a classic. A draw would suit both teams and something like a 0-0 or 1-1 is on the cards. If any team is to win then I would favour Sochaux. I consider them the better overall unit and overall their home record this season is quite strong (6th best). If I was to bet anything here then it would be under 2 goals but the price isn’t anything special. All things point towards a low scoring defensive sort of tussle though which won’t be very pretty on the eye.

Prediction: 0-0

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Orleans v Troyes Preview (28/2/20)

Match Preview

Orleans beat Le Havre 2-1 away from home last week and it was just their fourth victory of the season. The club finally sacked Didier Olle Nicolle and an immediate response was shown from the players, they were much better. He clearly had to be removed and it looked to me like the squad had a new lease of life. Orleans are still rock bottom of the table but might obtain more belief after that win last week. One thing that USO have to do is keep going for it though. They can’t afford draws being so adrift at the foot of the table. I’m fairly sure someone will win this match. Troyes tend to be an all or nothing type of side and recently they have been back to winning ways. ESTAC are deserving favourites but I am concerned that starting right back Oualid El Hajam remains injured. Key centre back Kiki Kouyate is fit to return but is now suspended after picking up a red card whilst on the bench vs Auxerre on Monday night. The bet I like here is an aggressive over 2.5 goals. Troyes matches aren’t always known for their high scoring affairs but I sense both will push hard for the win and won’t be settling for a point. I could play safe and back over 2 or 2.25 instead but I feel in a mood for risk and reward this evening. The general flow of the game should be quite open. I've got a gut feeling Orleans might win myself.

Prediction:  3-1

Recommended bet: Over 2.5 goals @2.39

France Ligue 2 – Nancy v Clermont Preview (28/2/20)

Match Preview

A lot depends here on how Clermont bounce back from defeat last week. It was their first loss in 13 games as they went down 0-1 at home to Paris FC. It is usually around this time of year that Clermont fade away after looking in a promising position so they need to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Here they face draw specialists Nancy who are suddenly struggling. The home team haven’t won any of their last 6 games and have actually lost both of their last two. They would’ve been very disappointed to go down 1-2 at Chambly last week, especially after leading. Nancy aren’t a bad team by any means though and in Amine Bassi they have a top class playmaker who can make things happen. I think this is a really tough match to predict and the bookmakers can’t split either side. The line on both is a DNB pick ‘em and this is probably fair. Perhaps there is some slight value on Nancy because Clermont are missing regular centre back Florent Ogier but maybe a draw is the most likely outcome.

Prediction: 1-1

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Le Mans v Guingamp Preview (28/2/20)

Match Preview

Le Mans have a new manager for this match after they decided to sack Richard Dezire earlier in the week. You kind of feel for him because he did so well at the club, leading them to multiple promotions (3 in a row!) so I think it’s really sad that the club didn’t keep faith with him. However, Le Mans have been playing awful since the winter break. Both results and performances have been bad and I personally didn’t see them surviving under Dezire. So on the basis of wanting to stay up this season he probably had to be sacked. Taking temporary charge is Stephane Pichot and it’s anyone’s guess what sort of a reaction he can get from the players tonight. You would think that the hosts will be extra motivated to prove a point and have a proper go. My feeling is that this will be an open sort of match. Guingamp really need to be targeting the 3 points if they want to still challenge for the promotion positions. The Brittany outfit have won 3 of their last 5 on the road and are deserving favourites. The price is nothing special though and it could be a dangerous bet if new manager syndrome hits Le Mans. I think something like a 1-2 or 1-3 away victory is my prediction but nothing from a betting point of view. Over 2.25 could be a consideration but we need to see how Le Mans reacts to the change of manager.

Prediction: 1-2

Recommended bet: None

France Ligue 2 – Chateauroux v Le Havre Preview (28/2/20)

Match Preview

Chateauroux picked up a couple of surprising wins recently by beating Lens and Grenoble back to back. Whether either victory was deserved is an entirely different matter. I think it’s fair to say they simply took their chances in both encounters and rode their luck at the other end of the pitch. This can’t continue forever and to be brutally honest I don’t think Chateauroux are a particularly good team. Tonight they take on a Le Havre outfit who have lost their way in the battle for promotion. HAC sit 6 points off the playoffs and need to start winning again if they are to be in the hunt come the end of the season. The visitors are given one major boost ahead of tonight’s game though. Key striker Tino Kadewere is fit enough to be included in the squad. HAC have failed to win any of the five games in which he missed minutes on the field and he remains the top scorer in the league with 18 goals. With the Zimbabwean back it might just give the visitors an edge tonight and I think they can get back to winning ways. At a price around the 2.25 mark though I’m not interested. Chateauroux have been fluky and have a canny ability to convert their chances. A fairer line would be DNB on both sides so there’s no real value on Le Havre.

Prediction: 1-2

Recommended bet: None