Mark O'Haire - Off To Northern France For My Top Weekend Selection

9 min

With the international break upon us, football betting analyst Mark O’Haire picks out two of his favourite fancies from across the continent this weekend, focussing on France and Italy.

It was an eventful midweek of Champions League action. A 4-4 thriller at Stamford Bridge, a late show from Shakhtar Donetsk to clinch a vital 3-3 draw in Zagreb, Kyle Walker ending up in goal for Man City at the San Siro, and Spurs even winning away. Goals were again prevalent with 56 plundered across the 16 games for an eye-bulging 3.50 average.

We’re back to domestic matters this weekend and with a reduced English league card due to the 1st Round of the FA Cup, I’m heading back to Europe with a firm focus on France and Italy before the teams break up for their final international break until March.

Lille To Dismantle Crisis Club Metz

Lille will be ruing their luck this week. Last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up look dead and buried in the race to reach the Champions League knockout stages after a late collapse in Valencia on Tuesday night. In truth, the 4-1 loss was a microcosm of the French club’s campaign on the continent.

Christian Galter’s charges started brightly in the Mestalla, taking the lead before buckling under the Valencia onslaught in the second half. The final score was a harsh reflection on the pattern of play and followed on from Lille failing to earn their just desserts from contests against Ajax and the Spaniards in the reverse meeting.

Les Dogues’ attention will now turn towards Saturday night’s league match-up with Metz. LOSC return to their fortress Stade Pierre-Mauroy base and look a good thing to enhance their already excellent return as hosts. Lille have pocketed a formidable 18 victories from 25 Ligue 1 outings here since the beginning of 2018/19 and W21-D8-L6 under Galtier’s watch.

The Flanders club, therefore, own a 72% win ratio as hosts in league action over the past 15 months, a return that would imply odds of 1.39 would be accurate. Indeed, backing the hosts at average match odds throughout that 25-game spell would have returned handsome 12.70 points profit from level stakes.

Lille have been red hot at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy of late.

The northerners have scored at least twice in five of their six Pierre-Mauroy outings this term, taking 16 points from the 18 available, and so look well worth supporting with a -0.75 Asian Handicap hurdle.

Performance data points to Lille being a top-team in France and the hosts are well capable of justifying their market position, bouncing back in style.

Newly-promoted Metz sit second-bottom having been beaten in half of their 12 outings, as well as four of six games as guests. Les Grenats have leaked at least twice in four of those six road trips and trailed at the interval on five occasions, whilst Vincent Hognon’s outfit have also had to deal with a serious off-field issue over the past seven days.

A high speed car accident involving defensive midfielder Kevin N’Doram and left-back Manuel Cabit has hit the headlines in France with reports suggesting the latter has “lost the feeling in his legs” with the vehicle alleged to have been travelling at 180kmph.

It’s far from an ideal situation for Metz ahead of one of the toughest away days in the division.

Goals To Flow In Friday’s Derby Date

Friday night in Italy sees Sassuolo and Bologna lock horns in an Emilia-Romagna derby and I’m keen to explore a goals-based angle with the two teams offering an exciting, attack-minded approach under their current management. Over 2.5 Goals is rated as a 1.80 shot and that looks just the ticket for the Mapei Stadium match-up.

Sassuolo head coach Roberto De Zerbi said he was “exhausted” after seeing his side play out a fabulously entertaining 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Lecce last weekend. The Neroverdi twice fell behind before earning a share of the spoils, although it could (and probably should) have been maximum points as Sass enjoyed the lion’s share of goalscoring chances.

Bologna fell to a deserved defeat against Inter but the Rossoblu have largely impressed in 2019/20, especially so considering boss Sinisa Mihajlovic has spent the majority of the campaign in hospital undergoing two courses of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with leukaemia in July. Assistant coach Riccardo Orsolini has stepped into the breach.

Sassuolo Manager Roberto De Zerbi was ‘exhausted’ after his side’s 2-2 draw with Lecce last weekend.

A tough opening schedule has left Bologna marooned in mid-table – the Rossoblu have earned a solitary point from four encounters with the current top four in Serie A despite earning plenty of plaudits for their effort, application and attitude. However, it’s now only one triumph in eight (W1-D2-L5) and points aren’t matching the underlying process.

Nevertheless, and quite remarkably, Bologna still feature in the top six in terms of Expected Goals (xG), xG from open play, plus shots in the box ratio. And should the Rossoblu sustain their current output, a resurgent spell of results shouldn’t be too far away, potentially starting close to home in Sassuolo on Friday night.

But rather than enter the 1×2 or Handicap markets here, goals are our best form of attack.

Over 2.5 Goals has proven a profitable formula in seven of Bologna’s last nine Serie A matches, as well as eight of Sassuolo’s 10 tussles across the full season thus far.

Since the start of last season, the hosts have covered this selection in 16/24 (67%) home games with 12 (50%) also featuring at least four goals. Bologna have also delivered Over 2.5 Goals in 9/14 (64%) away contests under Mihajlovic with 10 of those encounters seeing both sides score. The duos data also points towards a high-scoring derby affair.

Recommended Bets

  • Lille -0.75 – 4 units @ 1.85
  • Over 2.5 Goals in Sassuolo v Bologna – 3 units @ 1.80