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French Ligue 1 Preview and Best Bets

french ligue one

Auxerre vs Angers

Both teams to score – 5/6 (1.83)

It was a terrible start for Auxerre upon their return to Ligue 1 by losing 4-1 away to Lille last week. They were 0-2 down inside 3 minutes and they never got out of the traps properly. It must be said they were at a difficult away venue and facing a strong Lille attacking line-up, but it was still a big disappointment for AJA. Manager Jean-Marc Furlan is best known for his ability to get teams promoted from Ligue 2 level, something he has now managed an incredible five times! He has never been able to impose himself at Ligue 1 level with his attack minded and risky tactics. This whole Auxerre squad is made up of good technical players and built to play enterprising eye-catching football. The loss of key defender Theo Pellenard to an ACL injury for the whole season is undoubtedly a bitter blow and they definitely look lightweight at the back for Ligue 1 football. However, there is enough ability in midfield and attack to keep them competitive. The likes of Mathias Autret, Gauthier Hein, Gaetan Charbonnier and new signing from Nottingham Forest Nuno Da Costa offer good goalscoring potential.

Angers come here on the back of a 0-0 draw at home to Nantes last week. It was an extraordinary stalemate, full of chances at both ends and it was remarkable that no goals were scored. The xG numbers for that fixture were 2.43 to 1.01 in Angers’ favour. Only some brilliant goalkeeping from Nantes’ Albin Lafont prevented them from winning. It must be noted that Angers’ own custodian Paul Bernardoni also had a good match to silence his many critics. Expectations are quite low amongst the media and pundits for Angers this season, many believing that they could be at huge relegation risk. They have to take some comfort from their week one performance though, even if they didn’t get the required result. Key man Sofiane Boufal remains injured but is close to a return soon. New signings in attack Abdallah Sima and Ulrick Eneme Ella are both doubtful. 

This is a match which both teams will target to win, and I think the best bet is both teams to score at a decent 1.83 price. Auxerre conceded an xGA of 1.87 last week vs Lille and it is obvious their weakness is in defensive areas. Angers will definitely get their chances here and I suspect it will be quite an end to end fixture. Over 2.5 goals could also be considered but taking BTTS covers the potential for a 1-1 draw. Neither side looks very secure at the back and Angers can’t rely on their keeper having another good game to preserve their clean sheet. 

Troyes vs Toulouse

Toulouse Draw no Bet – 17/20 (1.87)

The wildest fixture of round one was probably down on the south coast where Montpellier beat Troyes 3-2. There were several chances in the match and loads of opportunities at both ends. xG numbers of 1.70 vs 1.87 demonstrate how open the game was. Troyes will be disappointed to have picked up zero points dispute having such a high xG on the road. It is no surprise they lost though because this team doesn’t appear ‘ready’ for the new season. There are also some doubts behind the scenes regarding the manager Bruno Irles. Several players tried to oust him as manager by approaching the club president a few weeks ago, but for now Irles remains in charge. The defensive injuries to Abdu Conte and Adil Rami hurt them last week. Rami could return for this fixture but is clearly not close to 100% fitness. Some better news for Troyes is that £6m signing upfront Ike Ugbo might be available. He is another player who did not have a proper pre-season though and simply not up to match sharpness. 

The visiting outfit Toulouse are in a much more settled state. The newly promoted side drew 1-1 at home to Nice last week and will probably be annoyed that they didn’t win upon their return to the French top-flight. Only a late Aaron Ramsay equaliser denied them the 3 points, but it was a very encouraging performance against one of the more fancied sides in the division. Manager Philippe Montanier is an experienced campaigner and highly respected manager. There have not been many changes at Toulouse this summer which makes sense considering how strong they were in Ligue 2 last season, becoming the highest scoring team ever in that division. The goals of Ado Onaiwu and Rhys Healey were important last season, but the incredible Branco van den Boomen is the star of the show for TFC. The Dutchman supplied an astonishing 21 assists last season, and he is already off the mark this term by supplying new signing Thijs Dallinga last week. His set piece delivery is immaculate, and Toulouse have a massive weapon with him in the side.

I think taking Toulouse draw no bet is the best option. They legitimately played well vs Nice last week against a team who are expected to be a top six challenger. Toulouse are now away from home but Troyes are now looking as strong. There are several bets which could be considered here and over 2.5 in addition to both team scoring are also possibilities. It is likely to be quite an open game of football and each team will target the victory. I trust Toulouse’s defence more though and they seem the better prepared team right now who are ready at the start of the season. I would be surprised if they lost the game so taking this DNB handicap looks quite secure.

Brest vs Marseille

Over 2.5 goals – 8/11 (1.73)

It was a surprise how good Marseille looked last week when they beat Reims 4-1. There was plenty of doom and gloom talk surrounding OM heading into the first round with all of the focus on new manager Igor Tudor. It has been a summer of ups and downs for Marseille, but the departure of popular manager Jorge Sampaoli angered several fans. Tudor, who comes in from a solid season at Serie A club Hellas Verona reportedly upset several players in the build up to the campaign. His 3-4-2-1 system worked very well last week though with new wingbacks Julio Tavares and Jonathan Clauss especially looking impressive. The manager had some clear the air talks with the squad and it appears that it was very beneficial. OM played well and legitimately deserved their win. They have been further boosted this week by the news that former Arsenal and Man United attacker Alexis Sanchez has joined the club on a free transfer from Inter Milan. Whether he will be available for this fixture remains to be seen. Tudor is certainly not afraid of upsetting the applecart and even dropped Dimitri Payet to the bench last week. His team selections could be difficult to predict this season, especially as OM have quite a vast squad.

Brest lost 2-3 away to Lens last week but they were totally outplayed overall. Only two late goals managed to keep the scoreline close, because for a long time it looked like they were going to get absolutely hammered. Their xGA of 3.46 last week was the highest of any team in the division, even more than Clermont who got beaten 5-0 by PSG. There has not been that much transfer activity at Brest this summer. There have been a few ins and outs but no real eye catching moves. They have kept key attackers Ivan Cardona and Franck Honorat, in addition to goalkeeper Marco Bizot. The custodian saved a Lens penalty last week and is definitely one of their best players. Brest can be a difficult team to predict and are capable of anything on the day. It was worrying how poor they looked defensively last week though against a Lens side who have a very similar tactical set-up to what Marseille have. I am concerned that the OM wing backs could have a field day against Brest this weekend.

Marseille are odds-on favourites to win at 1.85 and after last week’s performance that looks like a fair price. I think over 2.5 goals at 1.73 is the best bet though. This OM attack suddenly looks quite juicy and managed to rack up xG numbers of 3.21 last week. New signing upfront Luis Suarez came off the bench and looked like a good fox in the box type poacher who will serve them well. Brest for their part, have enough attacking weapons to also contribute towards an over 2.5 goals bet, and I also think both teams to score is likely. If Marseille are in the mood though they could easily win 3-0 or 4-0 so think Over 2.5 is a better overall option and at higher odds.

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