Brest vs Lorient
Lorient have commanded third place in the Ligue 1 table, three points shy of Paris Saint Germain. Considering the aims for the season after finishing 2021/22 four points off safety, Régis Le Bris’ group have performed remarkably. Seven wins, a draw, and one loss away to RC Lens stand as the scores on the doors after eight action-packed matches.
Remarkably, only two of Lorient’s opening fixtures have seen Les Merlus score less than two goals. The two 0-1 wins versus Rennes in the season opener and AC Ajaccio were the only occasions where the Brittany-based ensemble couldn’t muster two or more strikes. In said two matches, Lorient hit a 0.4xG and 0.6xG figure whilst navigating the slim victories – only one other fixture have they failed to record at least 1.0xG in 90 minutes, and that was against Lille last weekend.
It was a hard-fought battle last time out that saw Lille handed a one-man advantage in the 62nd minute. Nevertheless, Lorient soaked up their visitors’ pressure until an equaliser 16 minutes later. Lille were in the ascendency, though Lorient proved to onlookers why they’re such a tricky team to face. One man down with backs to the wall to grapple a valuable point, but still willing to get forward and create chances on the counter-attack. Théo Le Bris did just that and found the winner with injury time in touching distance. Stade Yves Allainmat-Le Moustoir went wild. Lorient claimed another notable three points against handy opposition.
Lorient’s 19 goals scored stumps up an average goals-per90 rate of 2.11 whilst racking up a 13.9xG figure. For the home team entering match day ten, a 13.4xGA ushers Brest into tenth in the expected goals against standings. It’s a sum that assumes Lorient will be afforded chances in their next Ligue 1 outing. In the form that the away side finds themselves, it would be no surprise to see Les Tangos et Noirs hit double figures for the eighth time this season.
Interestingly, although flying high up the table, Lorient ranks third worst for expected goals-against. Their 15.7xGA is surpassed by only Clermont Foot and Auxerre. It’s a tall figure borne from the 15.67 shots-per90 conceded on average, a sum which the highest Ligue 1 has to offer. However, this is certainly not a bad thing for the selection. Brest will have plenty of shooting opportunities, and if they take one, the onus will be on Lorient to work openings and find the net – precisely what we want to happen here.
In short, Lorient, to score 1+ goal, has landed in 9/9. Additionally, Brest opponents have registered at least one strike in 9/9 matches in 2022/23. So, the reasoning is solid; now we just need Lorient to step up and continue a season-opening trend.
Cremonese vs Napoli
Sunday’s pairing head towards match day nine in Italy in contrasting circumstances. La Cremo occupies 19th position in the table, while Napoli’s unexpected dominance since match day three continues to stump top-flight opposition and Champions League mainstays alike.
The only side accompanying Cremonese lurking at the foot of the table without a win is Sampdoria. It’s an unwanted position nine matches in, but one they knew was always on the cards if they didn’t get the rub of the green. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean they’ve rolled over and had their collective belly tickled – far from it. Often on the front foot and seeking to pull the trigger, Cremonese aren’t in Serie A to make up the numbers. Yet, even the most ardent supporter would struggle to agree with the prediction of a long battle towards locking in an extended stay in Serie A.
It doesn’t get any easier for Cremonese. But, unfortunately, that’s what life in Europe’s prominent leagues provide – a constant headache. After handing Ajax a severe 1-6 lesson in Amsterdam, Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli fixes its sights on their next Serie A win in Lombardy. Given how Napoli are approaching matches, that cocksure viewpoint is how they’ll observe Sunday’s match-up, although certainly not taking Cremonese for granted.
This is a side that put Ajax to the sword in their own backyard and dealt six-time European champions, Liverpool, a 4-1 blow in Naples. Such head-turning performances played out all whilst piecing together four consecutive wins in Serie A, including two away triumphs versus Lazio and AC Milan. That kind of form is incredible. Teams have purple patches throughout the season and often fall off and falter, but this seems like more than that. Spalletti’s Napoli has something about them, and the rest of Europe should stand up and take notice.
In Italy, the 18 goals scored in Naples sky blue is the most in the division, with a 14.9xG total suggesting those in forward areas are overachieving from their goal scoring opportunities. On the other end of the scale is Cremonese, a place where no Serie A club wants to reside. I Grigiorossi holds the undesirable best-in-class tag here, with 16.4xGA from eight fixtures in the expected goals-against rankings. At greater than 2.0xGA per90, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and company should be licking their lips.