France Ligue 1 – Nantes v Montpellier Preview (21/12/16)

Nantes preview

  • New coach Sergio Conceicao has started with two victories. Their 2-0 success at Angers on Friday was a really hard fought success and they dug in hard. It was more like the sort of performance many expected from Nantes this season.
  • One of the main positives about the squad are their big physically powerful defenders. As a whole, most of the players are big units. Angers coach Stephane Moulin admitted that Nantes physically bullied them.
  • I’d expect a similar sort of display here. Nantes will probably be very hard to break down but should retain plenty of threat on the break with the likes of Iloki and Sala.
  • Les Canaris have a terrible home record but all past results need to be completely forgotten. They look like a different side under their new manager with much more belief.

Montpellier preview

  • The visitors obtained a huge 4-0 win against Bordeaux at the weekend. This scoreline was flattering though. They were second best for most of the first half and then played against 10 men for more than 50 mins.
  • MHSC have yet to win away from home this season, although have drawn 4 out of 9 contests. Their performances haven’t been too bad but the 24 goals conceded is a pretty shocking statistic.
  • Key playmaker Ryad Boudebouz is injured and misses out tonight. They managed to score four goals without him against Bordeaux, but in a much tighter fixture like this one his presence would be more important. He has the ability to unlock a defence with one really classy moment.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • These two teams met just last week in the Coupe de la Ligue. Nantes prevailed 3-1 on that occasion, although Montpellier didn’t play a full strength team.
  • It will be interesting to see if they’ve learnt their lessons from that game. Nantes look a much better side under Conceicao and are pretty well drilled at the moment. Crucially, confidence has returned too.
  • Nantes fans have been restless this season but the atmosphere should be improved tonight. Les Stade Beaujoire can be a formidable place if the supporters actually get behind them.
  • The hosts are priced up on a -0.25 handicap line around the 1.90 mark. These are big enough odds to tempt me in. Montpellier have yet to win away from home and I don’t see this being a great matchup for them.
  • Once again, Nantes could beat up a side physically here and are unlikely to give Montpellier the sort of space that Bordeaux allowed them at the weekend. The fact that Nantes have had an extra day to prepare could be important too. And although it was only a cup match, last week’s win against them surely has to be a positive.
  • The goal line is set between 2 and 2.25 which looks about fair. I think it’s really 50/50 if this game ends over or under so I’m happy just to stick with the -0.25 pick.

Prediction: 2-1

Recommended bet 1 unit: Nantes -0.25 @ 1.91