Ligue 1 Betting: Difficult debut for Monaco's Moreno versus rampant PSG
The champions' forward line has clicked brilliantly in recent weeks and Monaco will be its latest victim, writes James Eastham...
Underrated OM the smart pick
Rennes vs Marseille (3rd vs 2nd) Fri, 19:45 GMT Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Football
Andre Villas-Boas is rapidly developing into a hero on the Canebiere and has the opportunity to further enhance his growing reputation in French football when his Marseille side travel to face Rennes on Friday night.
Marseille sit five points clear of third-placed Rennes thanks to the formidable run of form they have embarked on under Villas-Boas. Since their 4-0 defeat at Ligue 1 leaders PSG on October 27, Marseille's record is an outstanding W7-D1-L0, with the team playing some excellent football despite injuries to key players such as Florian Thauvin. Valentin Rongier has thrived in midfield, while Dimitri Payet (pictured below) is playing so well there's talk he may earn a recall to the France squad ahead of Euro 2020.
So it's a surprise to find that Marseille are 2.96 underdogs. Rennes are 2.76 to win, with The Draw 3.30 - all of which makes little sense given how well the visitors have played over a number of months now. Rennes enjoyed an excellent December - they were W5-D0-L0 in the run-up to Christmas - but there are still question marks over the Bretons' durability and this will be the stiffest domestic test they've faced since their shock 2-1 win over PSG last August.
The big price on Marseille throws up good options for supporting the visitors. Our preference is backing l'OM on the Draw No Bet market. With this selection, you'll make a profit if Marseille win, and get your stakes back if the game ends in a draw.
Riviera visitors the smart pick
Angers vs Nice (8th vs 10th) Sat, 19:00 GMT Live on Betfair Live Football
Angers were one of the surprise packages of the opening months of the Ligue 1 season but there were signs before Christmas that they're likely to settle back down into a mid-table position rather than continue to challenge for the European places.
Angers' five-match form in the run-up to the short French winter break was W1-D1-L3, and included a 3-1 defeat at this weekend's opponents Nice.Patrick Vieira's Riviera outfit were good value for their victory that day, and finished 2019 in far better form than Angers, too: their stats of W3-D1-L1 from the last five games of last year enabled them to close the gap separating them from Angers to just one point ahead of this fixture.
Angers' price of 2.06 to win this weekend looks too short. Our pick would be to lay the hosts, which means you would make a profit if Nice win or the game ends in a draw. For more information on backing, laying and trading in general, click here.
Champions simply too strong
PSG vs Monaco (1st vs 7th) Sun, 20:00 GMT Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Football
On the matter of sending a message out to their opponents, PSG couldn't have possibly made a better start to 2020: they ran out 6-0 winners at amateur opponents Linas-Montlhery in the French Cup last weekend, then followed up with a 6-1 home win over St Etienne in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night.
Those consecutive victories mean that PSG have now won their last nine domestic fixtures and, crucially for our selection on this match, have done so in style. Thanks to the return from injury of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar towards the end of 2019, plus the outstanding scoring form of on-loan striker Mauro Icardi (the Argentina international has scored 12 goals in 13 games in French competitions this season), PSG have rediscovered the habit of winning emphatically rather than narrowly: their cumulative goal difference over their nine straight victories is 28, with their last five wins all coming by three or more goals.
It means a baptism of fire for new Monaco boss Robert Moreno, appointed on December 28 to replace Leonardo Jardim, whose second spell in charge in the Principality ended because his bosses were unhappy at seeing the club sit in mid-table. Defensively, Monaco look average, a massive concern as they prepare to face one of Europe's most formidable strikeforces in this Sunday night showdown.
PSG are available at around evens with a -2.0 Asian Handicap start. With Icardi, Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria all available, a PSG win by two or more goals looks a more likely outcome than the market suggests.