After coming agonisingly close in back-to-back weeks, Dermot feels that the bigger squads will be the sides to follow in this midweek treble.
Lille Vs Nice is probably the pick of the midweek fixtures. That said, Nice were abysmal in a 0-3 defeat to Marseille at the weekend. The Riveira side didn’t address any of the deficiancies in the squad from last season and it’s beginning to show. Brest outdid Nice in the “worst performance of the week” stakes when losing 0-7 at home to Montpellier. Their resilience was their key attribute last season and it must be a worry for Michel Der Zakarian how easily his side capitulated. They face Rennes in a Brittany derby on Wednesday evening.
Montpellier Vs AC Ajaccio – Wed 31st Aug 18:00 GMT
With Téji Savanier’s suspended one might have expected the La Paillade attack to stall, instead they put 7 goals past Brest with Wahbi Kharzi excelling in the number 10 role. They should be full of confidence after such an emphatic performance. In defence they lack some back-ups but they have plenty of attacking options. Not many teams expected to finish in the bottom half of the table have someone like Valère Germain to call on if goals are needed.
AC Ajaccio will be happy with performances so far but not the results. Their opening schedule has been tough (Lyon, Lens, Rennes, Lille) and one feels they many be eyeing the home game against to Lorient next weekend to get their first win on the board. Add in to the mix that 5 of the usual starting XI are 33 plus, this game may come too quick for L’Ours. Montpellier should win the game but even after a first clean sheet of the season at the weekend, it’s too soon to trust the home team’s defence just yet. Home win and both teams to score has plenty of value here at 3/1.
Rennes Vs Brest – Wed 31st Aug 20:00 GMT
Bruno Génésio’s side have yet to hit the heights of last season but could hardly have found a better spot than this game to ignite their campaign. Defensive changes have been disruptive to Rennes all-out-attack mentality with Joe Rodon and Loic Bade competing to partner Arthur Theate at the back. Being a bit more clinical in front of goal would help too since they have taken 72 shots to their opponents 47 in four Ligue 1 outings so far.
Brest were 0-4 down before Pierre Lees-Melou’s 50th minute red card in the 0-7 loss to Montpellier last weekend. Even with 10 men and losing by that amount, Les Pirates still had more possession. They should have Islam Slimani available for this game but the lack of depth elsewhere makes this a worrying game, especially if the home side finally click in attack. Even though it’s a derby I feel it will be a one sided game and fancy Rennes to win even giving Brest a goal start.
Marseille Vs Clermont – Wed 31st Aug 20:00 GMT
Marseille have added a lot of depth to their squad in the off season. So much that they have let Arka Milik out on loan to Juventus and one of last season’s heroes Bamba Dieng isn’t even being considered for the squad (let alone a start). Eric Bailly joined last week from Manchester United to bolster one of the better Ligue 1 defences. Alexis Sanchéz scored his first goals in French football last week, giving a 38 year old Dante the run around. With Dimitri Payet almost back to full fitness, OM’s attack could become something special over the next few weeks.
Clermont are one Ligue 1’s suprise packages after the opening four games (Lorient and Auxerre contending for that consideration too). A win on the road to Reims followed by a home win against Nice has them in 9th place. Pascal Gastien is getting some excellent perfomances from a squad that doesn’t appear to have the talent of last season. His in-game adjustments are up there with the very best. That said, I feel this game is too soon after the weekend. Like Rennes earlier, Marseille giving Clermont a goal start looks the bet to have here.
Montpellier Vs AC Ajaccio – Montpellier to Win & BTTS (1pt @ 17/5)
Rennes Vs Brest – Rennes to Win -1 (1pt @ 5/4)
Marseille Vs Clermont – Marseille to Win -1 (2pts win @ 11/10)
Above in a treble – 1pt win @ just under 20/1