Clermont vs Lille
Clermont have surprised many in Ligue 1 this season, but 7th placed Lille should have too much for them when the two face off on Wednesday evening.
Lille’s stats make for solid reading, and would largely suggest that they should be higher in the league table than they are. They’ve managed 27 goals thus far (1.80 per game), with only 3 other teams in the French top-flight able to boast a better record.
They also rank 4th in Ligue 1 for xG, with a very solid average of 1.85 P/90. They also have the best xGA in the league with 1.00 P/90, suggesting that if they can sort some of their defensive frailties, they’ll be incredibly difficult to beat.
The stats bode well, and with Lille picking up 13 points from a possible 18 prior to the World Cup break, it’s clear that Clermont will have tough job on their hands.
As for Clermont, they’ve largely overperformed given their lacklustre stats. 19 goals in 14 is a decent return, but an xG of just 1.05 P/90 (one that ranks them last in that metric in the league), suggests that they’re unlikely to cause Lille much in the way of problems.
An xGA of 1.73 P/90 is also rather hefty, and given that Clermont have conceded in 11 of their 14 games thus far this season, Lille should find frequent opportunities with which to score.
Clermont picked up just 3 points in their last 5 games prior to the World Cup, and I expect their struggles to continue.
Hibernian vs Celtic
The Champions are flying. 9 points clear of arch rivals Rangers; Celtic will be fully focused on picking up another 3 points before the 2 sides meet at Ibrox in the new year.
The Hoops ran out 4-1 winners over St Johnstone on Christmas Eve. That followed a 2-1 win against Livingston and a 1-0 win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Celtic average a terrifying xG of 2.72 and are still managing to outperform that, scoring over 3 goals per game. The quality added to this side under Postecoglou is clear for all to see.
Celtic have netted 57 times in 18 league games and conceded just 15. No shocks really that that means the have the best attack and best defence in the league.
Hibs currently languish in 7th, a whole 28 points behind their opponents. They did win their last match 4-0, however their opponents Livingston were down to 10 men after just 15 minutes.
Even still, Livvi managed to rack up a 2.52 xG. Only marginally lower than the xG Hibs produced.
That win was just their 2nd in their last 9 league games. When they met Celtic earlier in the season, they were dismantled 6-1. Celtic weren’t even at full strength that day.
Leeds vs Man City
An already difficult task is beginning to look insurmountable, as Leeds host Guardiola’s mighty Man City side with up to 11 of their players rumoured to be absent.
Some of those absences could well be damning for Leeds. The suspended Tyler Adams has been a key cog in the Leeds machine with his grit and ability to break up play, whilst first choice keeper Meslier will be a huge loss.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the trio of Sinisterra, Rodrigo, and Summerville have amassed 15 of Leeds’ 22 goals this season, a staggering 68% between just three players. City’s xGA P/90 of 1.00 won’t help matters for Marsch’s men, and Guardiola’s men will likely snuff out the majority of Leeds attacks.
As for City, their credentials need little in the way of explaining. They’re a quality side capable of winning any game on their day. An xGA of 2.38 P/90 is evidence of the quality oozing from their squad, and can’t be bested by another side in the league.
More often than not, they convert these chances as well. Guardiola’s men have notched 40 goals in just 14 games (2.86 per game), and with frontman Erling Haaland fully fit and in fine form, Leeds stand little chance of keeping a clean sheet.
Leeds’ xGA of 1.61 already makes for grim reading, and having kept just 2 clean sheets this season, they could be in for a long afternoon against a City side capable of scoring several here.