Monday Night Ligue 2 Lens v Clermont Preview

Lens – Clermont

Team news is very favourable towards Lens. They’ve had quite a few absences recently but tonight their squad is in much better shape. Key defender Yahia returns after missing a couple of weeks, as does top goalscorer Pablo Chavarria. Their only real absentee is midfielder Jerome Lemoigne but on the positive side, fellow man in the middle Pierrick Valdivia is back after missing the Nimes match last week. Clermont meanwhile, have problems. Their best defender Cedric Avinel misses out, as does midfielder Eugene Ekobo. Both of these two players are extremely important to Clermont, Ekobo for example has started in every single game this season and plays a vital holding role.

Lens got battered 6-0 by Monaco in the French cup in midweek but their ligue form has been pretty good recently. All too often they have flattered to deceive this season and scraped through games. It might be that finally they are beginning to show their true class though, especially in an attacking sense where they’ve been firing well. If they win this game tonight then they’ll go 8 points clear of 4th place and that’d be a very nice cushion to have with only 8 games remaining in the season. Clermont have actually scored in each of their last 4 games but they aren’t renowned for netting many. They will probably get a few chances tonight because Lens play quite open, but I doubt one goal will be enough to get them something here.

Lens just look too good offensively at the moment and they have the ability to take full advantage of the Avinel and Ekobo injuries. I think they’ll outscore Clermont fairly easily and something like 3-1 or 4-1 are possible likely outcomes here. The visitors are known for being involved in a lot of under games (14 of last 16 ended under 2.5) but tonight might be an exception where they are forced into a shootout. They will probably try and park the bus but I doubt how effective they can be with this tactic. I like backing the hosts -0.75 here. At the very least I think Lens should win and considering their current scoring power the chances of them winning by 2 or more seems fairly likely. This line should be closer to -1 not -0.75, so offers a bit of value.

Prediction: Lens 3-1 Clermont
Recommended bet: Lens -0.75 6/10 @1.94

Saturday Ligue 1 & 2 Pre Match Analysis & Picks

Angers – Metz
There’s no doubt that Angers have choked under the pressure of being a promotion contender recently. No win in 5 games coupled with some appalling performances suggests that they won’t be making it up to Ligue 1, although Friday night results should give them some confidence. A win here would move them back into the top 3 so it’s another vital game for them. Angers still have quite a lot of players injured, they’ve not been at full strength for a while. Overall I think this’ll be a pretty tight and cagey affair. Metz have found some form of late, impressive at the back especially and their chance prevention has been excellent. They would be satisfied with a draw but a win would virtually put them in Ligue 1 as they’d be 14 points clear of 4th with just 8 games left. I’m not going to bet on this contest but I’ve got a sneaky feeling for an away win. Angers have shown nothing of late that suggests they are capable of winning this fixture.

Prediction: Angers 0-1 Metz NO BET

Reims – Lorient
This is my only current bet of the day in Ligue 1. Reims haven’t been as strong at home this season compared to last, but they still have a fairly decent record. Their last couple of performances here have been fairly good anyway, and I fancy them to beat Lorient. The visitors just aren’t a good away side, its as simple as that. With the exception of a freak run midway through the season, Les Merlus have been completely shit on their travels with a terrible 3-2-11 record. FCL have off field issues too regarding the future of coach Christian Gourcuff. I just sense that they’re fairly unsettled at the moment and this could be a good time to take them on. I’m expecting an open contest and I see both scoring, but ultimately Reims could have too much. A price of 2.15 on a -0.25 line is way too high, fair odds would be something like 1.85 IMO. Definite value on the Champagne outfit in this one.

Prediction: Reims 3-1 Lorient
Recommended bet: Reims -0.25 @ 2.15 5/10

Sochaux – Marseille
Got to be honest here, I’ve been very close to pulling the trigger on Sochaux. Taking them +0.25 might be a very decent option considering Marseille’s recent form. But there’s a lot of pressure on the hosts who are desperate for a win considering their current ligue position. It might be a case of ‘all or nothing’ in which case you’d be better off backing them on the straight win ML. Marseille have been pretty awful of late, but most of their bad performances are at home. It seems they are capable of playing better on the road away from their expectant and frustrated fans. If Marseille turn up and play anywhere near their best then they’ll probably win, such is the strength of their attack force. I would love to back Sochaux +0.25 but I think the chances of a draw are quite low. Somebody will probably win this game, a draw does nothing for either team. If the score is level with 10-15 mins left then this match could go absolutely MENTAL!

Prediction: Sochaux 2-1 Marseille NO BET

Ajaccio – Toulouse
Worst home team vs one of the best away ones in Ligue 1 here. Should this end up as a routine victory for Toulouse? Well, I think they’ll probably prevail but I don’t fancy them at this price. Ajaccio have enjoyed playing with no pressure on their shoulders recently and it wouldn’t be a total shock if they avoided defeat.

Prediction: Ajaccio 1-2 Toulouse NO BET

Evian – Monaco
I think Monaco will win here but their price doesn’t tempt me enough yet. Evian are fighting for their lives and Annecy is never an easy place for any team to visit. Monaco should probably have too much quality but they are prone to sloppy draws, this could be another of them. I would only back Monaco -0.25 here if the price increases. I think you’d need some draw cover to feel more secure.

Prediction: Evian 0-2 Monaco NO BET

Montpellier – Valenciennes
Difficult one here because plenty is at stake. Montpellier really won’t want to lose this match otherwise they’ll get sucked into the relegation battle again. A draw would be an ok result for them, victory isn’t essential. For this reason I don’t think they are backable at this odds-on price. Valenciennes might be a pretty poor away team in general but they are fighting for their lives . Draw might actually suit both teams so I’ll predict 1-1.

Prediction: Montpellier 1-1 Valenciennes NO BET

Nantes – Bordeaux
This is surely going to be the most boring match of the day in Ligue 1. I just can’t see how there can be much excitement or goals. Neither team has looked particularly good of late and with this being an Atlantic derby, the main priority for both will be to avoid defeat. Huge candidate for 0-0 I’d say, with maybe a red card or two thrown in for good measure.

Prediction: Nantes 0-0 Bordeaux NO BET

Friday Ligue 2 – Pre Match Analysis & Picks

Auxerre – Troyes

Auxerre sacked their coach a couple of weeks ago and it immediately paid dividends last Friday when they beat Creteil 2-0 away. This was a much improved performance by AJA and I’d expect them to kick on again tonight. Generally, their home form hasn’t been too bad this season and has produced some solid results. Troyes visiting tonight are dangerous opponents, but away from home they are nothing special at all. In fact, some of their road results have been appalling, especially the 0-1 loss at CA Bastia result. They just can’t be relied upon and I could see this being a difficult match for them facing a side fresh full of hunger, motivation and drive for their new manager. Auxerre DNB has to be the play at a very generous price.

Prediction: Auxerre 2-1 Troyes
Recommended bet: Auxerre 0AH @1.99  5/10

Nancy – Caen

The problem Caen have is away from home against top 10 opposition. Off the top of my head I don’t think they have actually beaten a decent side on the road this season. Tonight they will be without their best player and leading goalscorer Mathieu Duhamel. This is a massive blow and it definitely gives Nancy an edge. Crucially for the hosts, their star man Jeff Louis is back from suspension and he can spearhead their attack force which was blunt at Clermont last week. There’s not an awful lot of difference between these 2 teams and with home advantage Nancy look a really good price to me on this DNB line. I just don’t believe Caen can win the match and at best they are only likely to draw.

Prediction: Nancy 2-0 Caen
Recommended bet: Nancy 0AH @ 2.0 6/10

Chateauroux – Nimes

It seems that Chateauroux are constantly underestimated at home in every match. Ridiculously, Nimes are somehow favourites for this contest, despite them missing their best player to injury. Vincent Gragnic is injured and this is a massive blow because he’s a key part of their offence. A major contributor of goals and assists, Nimes will have to make do without him and he’ll be missed. Chateauroux have looked a bit dodgy in their last couple of matches but they should perform better tonight. Nimes aren’t a bad side but they are nothing special at all and definitely beatable. The price on the hosts DNB is really juicy and has to be backed IMO.

Prediction: Chateauroux 1-0 Nimes
Recommended bet: Chateauroux 0AH @ 1.99 5/10

CA Bastia – Creteil

Creteil are ridiculously short for this match. For a team that has really struggled of late they have no right to be prices at such poor odds, even in a fixture like this. It’s true that CA Bastia are the worst side in the ligue but even they’ve shown some improvement recently. An impressive 1-0 win against Troyes was followed up last week with a creditable 0-1 loss at Tours with 10 men for most of the match. It’s perhaps slightly dangerous backing them, because in theory they have nothing to play for, but I can’t ignore this price. All the pressure is on Creteil to win, they desperately need 3 points and that can do strange things to sides mentally. I’m not sure the visitors are good enough to obtain victory and taking CAB +0.5 is definitely a value bet. There’s danger involved here but there’s no denying that you’re getting an edge on the bookies by backing the hosts @ this price and line.

Prediction: CA Bastia 1-1 Creteil
Recommended bet: CA Bastia +0.5 @ 1.86 4/10

Dijon – Arles
4th best home team against the 4th worst away side (statistically). Both teams have shown some poor form recently though, especially Dijon. There’s no doubt that the hosts are priced up far too short, Arles +0.75 could be classed as a value bet. I might even take them if the price rises much more, but for now I am happy to sit back and just avoid the game. I think Arles can get something though and a draw likely.

Prediction: Dijon 1-1 Arles NO BET

Brest – Le Havre
I personally rate Le Havre to be the best away side in Ligue 2 and it’d be dangerous backing against them tonight. Brest have been in form though and look very defensively assured of late. The pitch at Le Stade Francis le Ble will only help the hosts too, it’s been in shocking condition recently and you need to play a direct style here. That won’t suit Le Havre who are more technical, but it doesn’t mean they can’t get a result. A draw seems the most probable outcome to me, either 0-0 or 1-1.

Prediction: Brest 0-0 Le Havre NO BET

Istres – Niort
I’m not going to touch this contest but I have a feeling that Niort will win. They just have a lot of momentum right now and I sense they might even end up as a shock promoted team. Istres are a very hit and miss side with which anything is possible, so who knows. I find this game pretty difficult to predict and it’s an obvious no bet situation.

Prediction: Istres 1-2 Niort NO BET

Laval – Tours
Laval have looked much better since they changed their manager, many people might expect them to continue their momentum today. They might do but Tours aren’t a bad team and this is a local derby, which adds some spice. Laval’s weakness can be against fast pacey teams and Tours certainly have ability in the final third of the field. It should be an open contest, I’m not sure which way it’ll go and the bookies seem to have their lines set pretty fair.

Prediction: Laval 2-2 Tours NO BET

Monday Night Ligue 2 – Metz v Brest Preview

First of all, for those who have wondered about my absence in recent days (thanks for the concern for those who enquired). Unfortunately illness left me in a rough state towards the back end of last week so I was unable to deliver any analysis or picks for Friday/Saturday matches. Then yesterday, I was completely out of action attending the wedding of one of my best mates. However, I’m back to full health now and return with an in-depth preview for tonight’s ligue 2 match.

Metz – Brest

Metz team news – The hosts will be without key defensive midfielder Romain Rocchi who is suspended. He’s started all but 3 of their fixtures this season and has to be classed as one of their most important players. During his double suspension back in January, Metz really missed his presence as they struggled to draws against Le Havre and Creteil. Another absence for Les Grenats is left winger Kevin Lejeune (also suspended). Like Rocchi, he’s started in virtually every match for Metz this season, only missing out once before due to a ban. Lejeune is a great set piece taker so they will miss his dangerous deliveries into the box.

Brest team news – Very favourable for the visitors. They do have a sprinkling of injuries, but none to players who would be guaranteed a place in the XI. It’s likely the Bretons will name the exact same XI that beat Angers last Tuesday night. The one change might be that leading scorer Nicolas Verdier regains his place in the team after being given a breather in that fixture.

Pre match analysis – Prior to the winter break, Metz bulldozed themselves to the top of the standings thanks mostly to their high powered, free scoring attack force. But in 2014 they have transformed into a much more cagey, tight and defensive outfit who are relying on keeping things solid. Clean sheets in 4 of their last 5 games has paved the way to an improved run of results, but there’s no doubt they haven’t looked as good since the turn of the year. Les Grenats have only scored 5 goals in their last 8 matches, for some reason things have dried up for them upfront.

Obviously this doesnt bode well for them approaching tonight’s game because Brest are renowned for their defensive and negative play away from home. It’s been a mostly difficult season for the Breton outfit but recent form has been impressive, especially from a defensive point of view. Alex Dupont’s men have kept clean sheets in 5 of their last 6 games and I’ve been really impressed with their chance prevention. These clean sheets have been no fluke, Brest have looked extremely good defensively and hard to break down.

Betting verdict – The general asian line for this match is -/+ 0.75. I personally think the handicap is too big for Metz. They don’t really deserve this sort of strong favoritism. The last time they won a match by more than a one goal margin was way back on December 12th! Considering their current position in the table, they’d be happy just to take 3 points in whatever way possible. It could even be argued that a draw would be a decent result for Metz tonight. If they managed to pick up a point then they’d move 9 clear of 4th placed Angers, which with 9 games left would be a nice cushion to have. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is going to be a really tight fixture, likely containing few goals – a very strong contender for 0-0. I’m not usually a fan of backing away teams in France, but there’s definite value on this +0.75 line. I can certainly see Brest getting something here and if they lose, then it’d likely only be by one goal. That wouldn’t be a disastrous half loss backing them +0.75, so I feel the visitors are worth taking for a few units.

Prediction: Metz 0-0 Brest
Recommended bet: Brest +0.75 (asian) @ 2.04 4/10

Friday Ligue 1&2 Brief thoughts & predictions

Predictions for tonight:-

Brest 1-1 Tours – Really tough one here, I haven’t got much of a clue. All 3 results are possible. I’d maybe have a slight lean towards Tours because they’ve played well recently, but then again so have Brest

CA Bastia 1-4 Troyes – I personally backed Troyes last night @1.85 but there’s no way I could recommend taking them at their current price. It’s just too short but I think Troyes should ultimately win this match easily, they have too much attacking strength. Continue reading

Cheltenham Festival – Day 4 Picks

13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle

Broughton 1pt each-way @8.0 (1-3 places) Finished 8th BET LOST -2pts
Guitar Pete 1pt each-way @10.0 (1-3 places) Finished 3rd, placed BET WON +1.25pts
Abbyssial 1pt each-way @15.0 (1-3) Fell, BET LOST -2pts

2:05 Vincent O’Brian County Handicap Hurdle
Cheltenian 1.5pt each-way @7.50 (1-5 places) Pulled up, BET LOST -3pts
Alaivan 1pt each-way @13.0 (1-5 places) Finished 9th, unplaced BET LOST -2pts
Upazo 0.5pt each-way @41.0 (1-5 places) Finished 22nd, unplaced BET LOST -1pt

2:40 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Kings Palace 3pt WIN @4.0 Fell, BET LOST -3pts
Deputy Dan 1pt each-way @17.0 (1-3 places) Finished 2nd, placed BET WON +3pts
Urban Hymnn 0.5pt each-way @ 23.0 (1-3 places) BET LOST -1pt

3:20 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Silviniaco Conti 5pt WIN @4.33 (meatman NAP of the week!) Finished 4th, BET LOST -5pts

4:00 Foxhunters Chase
Harbour Court 1pt each-way @6.50 (1-4 places) Finished 5th, unplaced BET LOST -2pts
Berties Dream 1pt each-way @17.0 (1-4 places) Finished 12th, unplaced BET LOST -2pts
Certain Flight 1pt each-way @21.0 (1-4 places)  Finished 13th , unplaced BET LOST -2pts

4:40 Martin Pipe Hurdle
Caid Du Berlais 1pt each-way @10.0 (1-5 places) Finished 3rd, placed BET WON +1.25pts

5:15 Grand Annual Chase
Claret Cloak 1.5pt each-way @9.0 (1-5 places) Finished 3rd, placed BET WON +1.5pts
Shooters Wood 0.5pt each-way @34.0 (1-5 places) Finished 16th, BET LOST -1pt
Competitive Edge 0.5pt each-way @41.0 (1-5 places) Fell, BET LOST -1pt

Review of the day

A poor end to the festival for me with no more winners. Total loss today was -20, just couldn’t find a horse to finish first past the post. One or two looked like getting up but just didn’t have enough climbing up the hill. Overall profit for the festival was +7 units. I really blew it over the last 2 days and perhaps should’ve quit whilst ahead, but I’m always greedy and want to get as much as I can, so no regrets. I find it hard to believe I couldn’t pick a winner in the final 2 days, but such is life.