Strength in-depth the key to this week’s 21/2 treble
Midweek fixtures have historically led to wins for the bigger squads in Ligue 1 the following weekend. This week it should pay to favour those sides with some depth as Lens, Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Monaco all play at home. As do Rennes, but they have league leaders PSG visiting Roazhon Park. I did back Les Rennais to win the same fixture last year. This game however will see the home side without Martin Terrier (ACL tear) and Benjamin Bourigeaud (suspension). The Parisiens will also have their world class trio of Messi, Neymar and Mbappé back on the field for the first time since the World Cup. That game should be the highlight of the weekend and it is also the fixture that rounds out game week 19.
Lens Vs Auxerre
Sat 14th 16:00 GMT
Lens were my big punt on the midweek fixture and after a promising start with an 11th minute goal, they only managed a draw against a beleaguered Strasbourg. That’s two away games in row that Lens have drawn that should see them 2, rather than 6, points behind leaders PSG. With the Paris side in action in a difficult game at Rennes, Le Racing know they have a great chance to potentially bring that gap back to 3 or 5 points when they play a struggling Auxerre on Saturday.
AJA have lost 11 of their 18 Ligue 1 outings after promotion last year and have currently lost 4 on the spin. A solitary away win is all they have to show from 9 away matches whilst their opponents have been flawless at home (W9-D0-L0). Experienced head coach Christophe Pélissier was meant to steady the ship but his side have only scored 4 whilst conceding 15 in his 6 games in charge. With a home win best priced at 4/11, I think the handicap market looks a better alternative with Lens priced at 21/20 to win -1.
Reims Vs Nice
Sun 15th 14:00 GMT
The job rookie Belgian head coach has done in his first 8 matches at Reims has been extraordinary. (W4-D4-L0) with a 3-1 victory over Rennes in the middle of it has exceeded all expectations, given the sides limitations in terms of talent and budget. Only 4 goals conceded highlights the cornerstone of Still’s side, defensive solidity. With all that said, why would you go against them?
Nice’s off-field shenanigans have played a big part in their current league position and previous form. Lucien Favre was brought to mould a team together without any input into the type of players he’d prefer or like. He was incredibly vocal about this and his unhappiness crept into the team. A fresh start was needed and B team manager Didier Digard was installed last week. Picking a system best suited to the players available was rewarded with a 6-1 victory over Montpellier. As a word of caution, La Paillade wouldn’t be the mentally toughest team in Ligue 1 and threw in the towel pretty early. The Nice camp should be the most cheerful it’s been all season after that win. With 2/1 available about a side that contains Laborde, Bard, Diop, Lemina, Barkley, Schmeichel and Thuram-Ulien, I think you won’t get a better spot to bet on Will Still’s Reims losing their first game. Away win for the column here.
Toulouse Vs Brest
Sun 15th 14:00 GMT
Toulouse have started 2023 with a perfect record following a home win over Ajaccio (2-0) and resounding victory at strugglers Auxerre (5-0). Van den Boomen is to Les Violets what Teji Savanier is to Montpellier, that bit of quality that elevates those around him. He ranks 4th of all midfielders in Europe’s Big 5 leagues for key passes and has been in top form lately (goal & assist at Auxerre). He has struggled where teams swamp the middle of the field (e.g., Lens play with 2 holding midfielders) but should have enough freedom against Brest.
Les Pirates remain one of Ligue 1’s most inconsistent teams. Last season they managed some shock wins but this season has been worrisome for the Brittany side. In a somewhat strange move, they have appointed Eric Roy as head coach. Roy’s last (and only) managerial position was at Nice back in 2010/11. He has been director of football at Nice, Lens and Watford in the meantime which may indicate an attempt to buy or loan their way out of trouble. However, you look at it the away side have been very poor and meet an in-form Toulouse side. Another away win given 21/20 is available on what should be an odds-on shot.
Lens to Win -1 @ 21/20 (2pt win)
Nice to Win @ 2/1 (1pt win)
Toulouse to Win @ 21/20 (2pt win)
Above in treble (best priced): 21/2 (1pt win)