Strasbourg v Reims
It hasn’t been the start of the season that either Strasbourg or Reims would have wished, with both coming into week three of the campaign without a win to their credit. Nevertheless, the Sunday lunchtime fixture, which isn’t forecast to be played under intense heat, should provide plenty of excitement in terms of goals.
Racing have yet to realise their offensive potential this season but have hinted at it after two difficult games against Monaco and Nice. This is the type of fixture, though, in which they will be eager to impress their home support. Julien Stephan’s side have found the target in both previous games this season and it would be a huge surprise if they did not continue that trend against an opponent that is far weaker defensively.
Indeed, Reims have conceded four goals in each of their opening two matches of the season against Marseille and Clermont. They do not look settled defensively yet and could be without important midfielder Azor Matusiwa for this game due to injury. The Champagne side are, however, stronger going forward and have scored three goals themselves. Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun is the man to watch in this regard after netting in each of his two outings so far.
With Reims still finding their feet defensively, this game promises more than the two 1-1 draws the teams shared last season. While the hosts are favourites to pick up the win, the value is on seeing goals.
Montpellier v Auxerre
Goals in Montpellier and Auxerre surely has to be the best value bet of the weekend in Ligue 1. These are two teams who are far more comfortable going forward than they are defending, as has been made evident in the opening fortnight of the campaign.
Montpellier, for example, won 3-2 on the opening night against Troyes before going down 5-2 against PSG away from home last weekend. Similarly, Auxerre were thumped 4-1 in Lille before drawing 2-2 in Angers a week ago in a match in which they had led 2-0.
Certainly, Olivier Dall’oglio’s Montpellier team are carrying on their reputation from last season as being a highly enjoyable side for neutrals to watch. Last term, their 38 league matches produced a total of 110 goals at an average of close to three per game. They look like surpassing that this term.
Although the hosts will be missing Stephy Mavididi, who has been a fine attacking outlet for them in each of the last two seasons, they have plenty of offensive artillery, particularly as Teji Savanier has started the campaign in promising form. Similarly, Auxerre have added M’Baye Niang and Nuno Da Costa to their ranks over the last 10 days and look a very strong offensive unit.
It would be surprising if there were not goals in this game given the relative attributes and attitudes of these sides, so the value looks excellent on this bet.
Toulouse v Lorient
Toulouse have hit the ground running on their return to Ligue 1, picking up four points in their opening two matches. It could easily have been six, as they were the better side in a 1-1 draw against Nice on the opening day of the season. With Lorient visiting them on Sunday, look for Philippe Montanier’s men to get their first home victory of the term.
Any fears that TFC may have been deflated by that opening draw were cast aside last weekend as they went to Troyes and won easily 3-0. ESTAC are the rough level of Lorient, so such a comfortable success there should give them confidence of winning this match. Furthermore, the depth that they had on display was impressive, with Rhys Healey coming off the bench to score his first top-flight goal.
Toulouse already look a team that is seasoned in Ligue 1, while they have few significant injury issues ahead of Sunday’s match.
Lorient, meanwhile, surpassed expectations on the opening weekend by beating Rennes 1-0 but had their momentum checked by a postponement last Sunday due to the dreadful state of their pitch. That will not help them as they seek to gain momentum after the summer. In any case, they rode their luck to win on the opening weekend, with their opponents missing countless chances. They are unlikely to be so fortunate in Toulouse if they are as open.
Moreover, Lorient are not a good away side. Although they won in Rennes, they picked up just two away successes in 2021-22 and just one the previous season.
Lille v PSG
There has been a great deal of noise around a clash between Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at PSG over the course of the last week, but on the field there has been little evidence to suggest that the Parisian side will be easily stopped this season. In the opening weeks of the season, Clermont and Montpellier have been blown away.
Lille are up next for Christophe Galtier’s side, and this is a team that he knows intimately, having led them to the Ligue 1 title just a couple of years ago. This, of course, is to his benefit as he takes his rampant PSG side to France’s north.
Even allowing for Mbappe’s attitude issues at present, PSG still look like a formidable unit, with Neymar and Lionel Messi coming back onto form this season. Furthermore, it’s only been six months since they dismantled Lille 5-1 when the sides last met at this venue.
LOSC, meanwhile, are under guidance from Paulo Fonseca, who took over in the summer. They have started the season in promising form, but where they were once a pragmatic team, they are now much more open and exciting. That’s good news for their fans, but in a matchup like Sunday’s, it promises difficulties.
Auxerre and Nantes have both breached Lille’s defence in the first two matches of the season, and now they come up against the most star-studded forward line in world football. This is a game in which goals look likely – backing over 3.5 at 2.38 looks good value – and simply supporting PSG to secure another comfortable win is a logical pick.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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