Saturday was poor for me. Le Havre over 2 was only a push, despite an early goal. Lorient won, but somehow only a couple of goals were scored which resulted in a half loss for the over 2.25. The Nantes game over was a full loser, again numerous chances were wasted. Couple that with two deserved and disappointing Dutch losers and it was a day to forget. Let’s hope Sunday can deliver better results.
Caen – Nice
The hosts come into this match on the back of their first win in seven games which will come as a relief. The come from behind victory at Montpellier should do their confidence the world of good ahead of what will be a tricky match. Nice are a very dangerous team, especially away from home where they usually have more threat on the counterattack at pace. Hateem Ben Arfa has refound his form and the Nice mojo appears to be back. They are unbeaten in their last 5 matches, winning their last 2 consecutively. Claude Puel’s men have only lost 2 away games all season so obviously have to be respected in this fixture.
In terms of match result I would definitely favour Nice if I had to. But my preferred bet is to back the over 2.25 line. Nice are usually a very pro-active team looking to find ways of scoring, and Caen are similar. Just one of their last 6 matches has contained less than one goal, and that was a freak against Montpellier which somehow only ended 1-0. All of Caen’s last 8 matches have contained at least a couple of goals, so backing the 2.256 line should be safe to at least avoid a half loss. I think both teams will score and there’s a good chance of overs landing. It helps that Caen miss two of their most important players to injury and suspension – Imorou & Da Silva, plus holding midfield Deleplace is out. Away win and the overs for me, but it’s the 2.25 bet which I’m taking.
Recommended bet: Over 2.25 goals @ 1.84
Bordeaux – Rennes
I have mentioned in recent previews that Bordeaux had started 2016 really well and they impressed me in a number of ligue and cup matches. It was clear that coach Willy Sagnol had been working hard on defensive positioning and cutting out mistakes during the winter break. This paid off and they kept a number of clean sheets, extending their overall Ligue run to six unbeaten. But anyone who watched last weekend can’t help but feel they were lucky. Nantes dominated the match and raced into a 2-0 lead, which should’ve been 3 or 4. Somehow, Bordeaux came back to draw 2-2 with late goals, but they won’t manage that every week. The overall performance was disappointing, as was their midweek cup thrashing at Lille (1-5). Bordeaux were a club in crisis before the winter break, with Sagnol just about keeping his job. But I could see them moving into a new crisis soon.
Les Girondins have 11 (eleven) players injured for this contest and have recently sold key individuals such as Wahbi Khazri and Henri Saivet. They are down to the bare bones and I think it’d take one hell of a display today for them to win. Rennes have a new manager Rolland Courbis and they looked much better last week beating GFC 1-0. The visitors have had a full 9 days to prepare for this fixture and they have a number of factors on their side. Injuries have also plagued Rennes this season, but today (for once) the squad is in excellent condition. The Breton outfit have only lost 1 away match all season so to get a +0.25 handicap on them @ 1.80 looks a really good price to me. I have been stung in the past by injury ravaged sides who somehow manage to play really well. But even if Bordeaux were at full strength I’d probably still favour Rennes. I am always nervous backing away sides in France but this is a situation where I can’t refuse.
Recommended bet: Rennes +0.25 @ 1.80
St Etienne – PSG
There was a time when St Etienne used to be PSG’s Bete Noire. Around the 2012/13 season Les Verts managed an unbeaten run of 5 straight games facing the capital club, but the roles have now been reversed. It’s fair to say that PSG now own them, winning the last 7 consecutive contests by a combined scoreline of 18-2. My own personal theory is that the PSG players were angered by Sainte’s good run against them and haven’t forgotten. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company always ‘raise’ their game facing Christophe Galtier’s men now, which isn’t good news for the hosts ahead of this fixture.
The good news for Sainte is that PSG are missing key defensive players. Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Van de Viel and Kurzawa are all injured, but how much will this affect them? It might not be such a big blow because PSG will monopolise ball possession and Sainte will be restricted to chances on the break. I am not sure if Sainte can take advantage of PSG’s defensive absences because Les Verts are so negative! Anyone who has watched them recently will know how reluctant Christophe Galtier is to push the boat out and he will effectively park the bus here. I am sure PSG will find a way to win eventually, but sometimes they just ‘get the job done’ and win by one goal. The asian handicap line of -1 isn’t particularly appealing, neither is the 2.5 goal line because you might need PSG to score all three. I’m going to leave this game alone but I would imagine in the end PSG take all 3 points.
Cambuur – Heerenveen
Fierce derby here, but I strongly give the edge to Heerenveen. They were awful losing at Zwolle just after the winter break but then excellently came back to beat Willem II. Following that, the northerners were superb on Thursday night at Feyenoord, claiming a 2-1 scalp which arguably should’ve been even more comfortable. Cambuur meanwhile were absolutely dire at AZ losing 3-1. But they could’ve been 5 or 6 down at HT, that’s how badly they defended. All season long the backliner has been a complete and utter shambles, conceding a whopping 50 goals! Their one positive was striker Ogbeche, but he’s now been sold to Willem II. Things just seem so deflated right now at Cambuur, and they are playing worse than anyone in the division IMO. Heerenveen matches also contain goals, so I like the over 3 line. I’m also going to back the visitors. Even though this is a derby match, they just seem in much better form and mindset right now.
Recommended bets: Over 3 goals @ 2.03 & Heerenveen DNB @ 1.80
Twente – Utrecht
Wednesday’s game at NEC was just the second time in 11 fixtures in which a Twente match contained less than 3 goals. This is very unusual because they are such a gung ho team, shocking at the back but dangerous going forward. Anyone with Hakim Ziyech in their side is going to be a threat in the final third. Utrecht were shockingly beaten by Roda 1-0 away. They were unusually flat in that fixture, although credit must be given to Roda, they were quite solid. This is a much different affair though and the superb Utrecht striking trio of Haller, Barazite and Ayoub should be able to pierce the Twente backline on numerous occasions. I think we are set for a highly entertaining. end to end type fixture. Ziyech will likely be sold tomorrow but hopefully he has one last quality match for Twente and grabs a goal or two. Over 3 on the goal line is always worth a go in Twente matches. As both teams fired blanks in midweek, expect a big rebound from each on this occasion.
Recommended bet: Over 3 goals @ 1.99
Feyenoord – Den Haag
The hosts are unbackable right now in all forms. They’ve lost their last 4 consecutive matches which is insane for a club of Feyenoord’s standing. Gio Van Bronckhorst is under huge pressure and this is almost a must win encounter. But it won’t be easy facing the very physical and committed Den Haag. The visitors however, were very poor at De Graafschap in midweek, going down 1-3. If Feyenoord’s quality shines through then we could see a similar outcome. Overall I see a low scoring contest and either a tight Feyenoord win or a draw.