Lens had a sticky patch a few weeks ago but seem to have got back on track somewhat. They beat Brest and then drew at Clermont last week. The performance in Clermont wasn’t that great and they were probably outplayed for the most part but did at least manage to grind out a draw. Lens were hit hard by the injury to key centre back Aleksandar Radovanovic but it seems ever since that happened they have been galvanised a little bit. The rest of the squad is in prime condition anyway. Ajaccio are missing Jeremy Choplin and Riad Nouri to suspension which is as bitter blow because both are key players. ACA have been poor for most of the season and away from home are usually unvoncinging. They won at Orleans last Friday night but that was facing a much poorer outfit. Lens should have enough to win today and they really need the three points in order to cut the gap to Brest. Taking them on a -0.75 Asian Handicap makes some sense.
This may well be the best match of the night to watch in terms of entertainment, goals and overall quality. Both are decent sides and lets not forget that Troyes have actually won 8 of their last 12 matches so might be a little bit disrespected by the bookies here and some would argue are a value price. Clermont are a side that I do rate highly though and can play some lovely technical football. The pick I like here is over 2.25 goals. I just think there is a nice match up of style here which could and should lead to a relatively open game. Some missing players on either side, especially Troyes without Obiang and Giraudon should aid the cause for goals too. The one worry is that Clermont tend to keep a lot of clean sheets and it’s been a while since both teams scored in any of their fixtures - perhaps overdue. But taking the 2.25 line looks a good price to me and I’ll chance my arm.
I think Paris FC are a crazy price here and have to be backed. They aren’t the greatest attacking team in the world but have kept 7 clean sheets in their last 8 games and must surely fancy their chances of keeping a poor Red Star at bay. The visitors will actually get to play a game in Paris for once and will be the closest they get to an actual home fixture all season (their own home games played on a neutral ground 60 miles away). So Red Star will be fired up for this derby match and actually come into the affair on the back of a 3-0 win vs Sochaux last week. But crucially, two of their better players recently Clement Chantome and Xavier Thomas are injured today and the bottom line is that they aren’t a very good side anyway. I think Paris FC should be on a -1 Asian line around the 1.95 mark tonight but instead they can be backed at the same price just the win the game outright! Even if you were to reduce home advantage due to the derby nature of the game Paris FC still look like a great price here and look like the best value of the night to me. They might only win in something like a tight 1-0 but that doesn’t matter.
Team news is very frustrating here. Niort are missing their captain and leading scorer Andre Dona Ndoh who is an absolutely massive player for them. Niort have scored 20 goals this season and Ndoh has netted 11 of them! It’s also been a turbulent week for the club with ex manager Patrice Lair spouting off to the media about how poisonous the atmosphere is at board level. Lair has been placed on gardening leave so Jean Philippe Faure takes caretaker charge again. He managed to lead them to a somewhat fortunate 1-1 draw at Lorient last week. If Brest were anywhere near full strength I would be all over them on a -0.25 handicap. But sadly they themselves are missing some key guys like Yoann Court and Matthias Auret. They have a couple of suspensions (Belkebla & Castelletto) as well. Brest have looked really good recently but will be devoid of a lot of creativity here and might have to rely on defence. The logical bet for me here is under 2.5 goals. With both sides missing key attacking pieces a lot of things point to a low scoring contest. Maybe Brest might find a way to sneak an ugly 1-0 win overall.
Both teams have one thing in common. Each have already sacked a manager this season and replaced him with a new guy. At the moment, it’s Nicolas Usai at Chateauroux who has made more of an impact than Herve Delle Maggiore at GFCA. Usai has come in and made the most of a poor squad, making La Berrichonne quite tough to break down. Chateauroux have kept 4 of 6 recent clean sheets with the only exceptions being against Metz and Le Havre who are both good sides. GFCA have suddenly been struggling to score goals, in fact they’ve fired a total blank 5 of their last 8 fixtures. I don't see this being a particularly high scoring or interesting game. It will probably be quite a slugfest and devoid of much quality. I have been successful backing under 2.25 in some recent Chateauroux fixtures and will continue with the same tactic tonight.
Neither team is in great form heading into the match and it's just a question of who you trust more. Beziers have been comfortably beaten in all of their last three matches and suddenly look a bit out of their depth at Ligue 2 level. It is worth mentioning that they faced some strong teams like Brest and Clermont though. Orleans aren’t in that category and arrive here having lost 5 of their last 6 games. They could also be mentally and physically fatigued after having faced PSG in the cup on Tuesday night. Beziers on a DNB handicap look a big price tonight but they have yet to win a home match this season and it would be hard to trust them. Instead I like the idea of backing over 2.25 goals. I have been let down by some over bets in this league recently but I think that both teams will fancy their chances here leading to an open game of football.
Auxerre aren’t a bad price here to be honest, but whether they will win or not remains to be seen. I would say there is a high chance of a draw between two evenly matched sides. Key playmaker for Grenoble Jessy Benet remains injured and they were pretty toothless without him last week against Paris FC. Auxerre have drawn their last two matches 0-0 and whilst I don’t think this will necessarily be a boring match it has the potential to be very low scoring. The best bet is probably under 2 goals but I am never a great fan of this line and the prices aren’t great.
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.
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.