Ligue 1 Betting: Underrated Marseille to extend unbeaten run
After two winners from two picks last weekend James Eastham picks out the smart selections on the latest round of matches in France...
PSG to keep their eye on ball
Amiens vs PSG (19th vs 1st) Sat, 16:30 GMT Live on Betfair Live Video
PSG are favourites to collect another three points this week as they march towards their latest title but the bigger-than-expected odds on Thomas Tuchel's side throw up a good opportunity to back the boys from the French capital.
PSG are 1.37 to win and 2.00 to claim victory with a -1.5 start on the Asian Handicap. With the second selection you'll make a profit at around evens if PSG win by two or more goals, something they've done in 16 of 24 Ligue 1 games and six of their 12 away fixtures.
The reason PSG are bigger odds than normal is that they face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last-16 first leg in Germany next Tuesday. Tuchel may rest some of Paris' star names at Amiens ahead of that trip, and the players will already have one eye on the European tie.
Such is the strength of PSG's back-up players, however, squad rotation should make little difference to PSG's chances of winning this game. Several times in recent seasons PSG have managed to record comfortable victories while fielding below-strength starting line-ups, even when important European fixtures have been just around the corner.
Nimes' renaissance ready to continue
Nimes vs Angers (18th vs 14th) Sat, 19:00 GMT Live on Betfair Live Video
Nimes' revival in recent weeks makes them a good bet to collect all three points against an Angers side that has gone into reverse in the past three months. Despite being at home Nimes are as big as 2.80, with Angers also 2.80 and The Draw 3.20.
Bernard Blaquart's hosts have won their last three matches - their best run of the season - and collected 12 points from a possible 18 since the turn of the year. Their most recent victories have seen them claim impressive scalps, too - they ran out 3-1 winners at Nice last weekend after beating Monaco by the same scoreline a week earlier.
January signings Yassine Benrahou (on loan from Bordeaux) and Nolan Roux (Guingamp, pictured below) have improved the attack, while the Crocodiles have made light of injuries that have ruled out important players in other areas of the team.
Angers' 10-match form is W1-D3-L6 and, while Nimes have won their last three matches, Angers have lost their last three. Stephane Moulin's visitors have particular problems in the final third, having failed to score in three of their last four matches.
Given the two sides' form, it's surprising Nimes are available at such big odds to collect all three points. Either back Nimes to win, or back Nimes on the Draw No Bet market. With the second selection, you'll get your stakes back if the game ends all-square, and make a profit if Nimes win.
Rennes the smart selection
Reims vs Rennes (10th vs 3rd) Sat, 16:00 GMT Live on BT Sport ESPN and Betfair Live Video
Reims are favourites to win this weekend despite the chronic final-third problems that threaten to derail their season. The hosts are 2.66 to win, while Rennes are 3.15. These odds are difficult to justify looking at the form and team news of the two sides.
Reims lack a single striker you'd back to score 10 goals a season and the January sale of Remi Oudin, their most creative player, to Bordeaux last month for a fee that should eventually approach £9 million has made the situation worse. Reims managed a freakish 4-1 win at Angers on February 1 but have failed to score in five of their last eight matches in all competitions. That win over Angers was also their only victory in their last 10 fixtures in all competitions (W1-D4-L5).
Rennes sit third in the table and stand a genuine chance of claiming a Champions League spot. The dismissal of president Olivier Letang 24 hours before their 0-0 home draw vs Brest last weekend was a shock decision but there were encouraging signs in the way Rennes bounced back to stroll past amateurs Belfort 3-0 in the French Cup on Tuesday night.
Backing Rennes to collect the three points is an option. A worthy alternative would be to back Rennes Draw No Bet, or Rennes with a 0 start on the Asian Handicap (essentially the same bet - for a full guide to Asian Handicap betting click here). With the Draw No Bet and Asian Handicap selections you have the safety net of getting your stakes back should the game end in a stalemate.
Payet set for happy return
Lille vs Marseille (4th vs 2nd) Sun, 20:00 GMT Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video
Lille are short odds to beat Marseille in the big televised showdown on Sunday night despite the fact that the visitors go into the game on a superb unbeaten run and have good team news for this trip to Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
Marseille are W10-D3-L0 from their last 13 league matches, a run stretching all the way back to late October and including a 2-1 win over Lille in the first meeting of the sides this season. There will be disappointment in the OM ranks after their 1-0 French Cup quarter-final defeat at Lyon on Wednesday night but that loss will make the players all the more determined to focus on their primary objective of securing a top-three spot in Ligue 1.
Marseille welcome back first-choice striker Dario Benedetto after injury, and one-time Lille favourite Dimitri Payet stands a reasonable chance of starting the game after suffering a minor thigh strain against Lyon. Between them the pair have scored 15 of Marseille's 33 (45%) league goals so the presence of both would be a major boost.
Lille have collected maximum points from their last three matches and go into the game knowing this is a fantastic opportunity to make up ground on one of their rivals for a Champions League spot. Yet there aren't enough factors in Lille's favour to justify their short odds, so a lay of the hosts is the smart selection.