A Champions League spot on the line in Ligue 1 and a crucial game in La Liga is where Mark O’Haire is zoning in on this weekend!
BOTH SIDES CAN OBLIGE IN LYON
Lyon’s title challenge was punctured by a morale-sapping come-from-behind 3-2 reverse at home to table-toppers Lille a fortnight ago, but Les Gones have refused to lay down and die in their battle for a top-three finish (and Champions League qualification).
Rudi Garcia’s group bounced immediately back to winning ways with a thrilling 3-2 success of their own at fellow high-flyers Monaco last time out, a boisterous contest that featured five red cards and a mass brawl at the conclusion.
Approaching the game weary and downtrodden, OL proved there’s still plenty of fight left in the old dog.
However, recriminations will follow the feisty scenes at the Stade Louis II, and Lyon return to action this Saturday with three key players suspended. Marcelo and Mattia De Sciglio will be missing from the backline, and playmaker Maxence Caqueret is also banned. With Jason Denayer going off injured against Monaco, the hosts could be without three key defenders.
That should encourage an effervescent Lorient outfit that are finally earning the rewards their promising performances have merited this season.
The newly-promoted club remain entrenched in the relegation battle, but convincing back-to-back triumphs over Bordeaux and Angers have given Christophe Pélissier’s posse real confidence.
Despite sitting only one place above the relegation play-off position, Les Merlus have now notched in each of their past nine and failed to score just once in 19 top-flight fixtures.
And in Terem Moffi and Yoane Wissa, the visitors boast two forwards in fantastic form and attracting interest from elsewhere, both well capable of hurting an undermanned defence.
I really like the idea of supporting Both Teams To Score at appealing 1.76 quotes.
It’s a wager that’s proven profitable in 66% of Lyon’s league fixtures this term, as well as returning a 60% hit rate in Lorient’s encounters.
My numbers make the right price closer to 1.70, and that’s before we alter the odds to consider the absentees in the home camp.
Both Lyon and Lorient require the points, and so the two teams, both of whom prefer to play front-foot football, should put on a watchable affair at the Groupama Stadium.
TIGHT TUSSLE FORECAST FOR MADRID
The race to be crowned kings of Spain is hotting up, and this weekend La Liga’s top four face-off in what could prove to be a decisive 48 hours at the top of the table.
Barcelona take on Atletico Madrid on Saturday afternoon before Real Madrid welcome Sevilla to Valdebebas on Sunday evening…
Naturally, Saturday’s showdown could condition how Sunday’s fixture plays out but, on the surface, it’s difficult to dismiss the prospect of a tight and cagey contest in the capital.
Sevilla suffered a damaging home defeat to Athletic on Monday night, probably killing Los Nervionenses’ outside chance of pinching a first league title since 1946.
Julen Lopetegui’s men were painfully insipid and predictable before going down to a stoppage-time counter-attack; emotionally that reverse might prove hard to get over.
Nevertheless, Real Madrid come into this clash after a punishing Champions League semi-final reverse at Stamford Bridge and are bound to be suffering their own dose of emotional and physical fatigue.
Opportunity, therefore, surely knocks for Sevilla.
Regardless, I’m not forecasting a thriller and I’m not anticipating goals galore.
However, the goal expectancy for the Valdebebas match-up sits at 2.80, presumably due to the permutations involved, plus the significance of Saturday’s Camp Nou clash.
Even so, the magnitude of the match, as well as the fact we have two of La Liga’s strongest defensive suits on show, suggests a cagier affair could be in the offing.
Neither side has been flush with goals, and both teams have been questioned in terms of creativity and conversion in recent months – not your ideal cocktail for an end-to-end thriller.
I don’t relish opposing the market strongly but I’m quite comfortable taking Under 2.5 Goals here at odds-against quotes down to around 1.85.
Real Madrid’s two Clasico contests bust the 2.5 goals line, but seven of Los Blancos’ eight encounters against the rest of the top-six saw fewer than three goals, as have nine of the hosts’ past 13 domestic games.
Sevilla are renowned for their pragmatism and organisational skills under Lopetegui, so it’s no surprise to see Los Nervionenses regularly banking profitable Under 2.5 Goals plays.
The visitors have seen this angle of attack click in all five match-ups with the top-three this term, whilst nine of their last 14 outings against La Liga opposition have also produced Under 2.5.
- Both Teams To Score in Lyon vs Lorient 3 units @ 1.76
- Under 2.5 Goals in Real Madrid vs Sevilla 3 units @ 2.03
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