Ligue 1 Tips: Lille to inflict more misery on struggling St Etienne

Class will tell in Ligue 1 this weekend as the top sides are set to triumph in France on Sunday says James Eastham...

New-look Monaco to win again

Monaco vs Nimes (5th vs 15th)
Sun, 14:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport ESPN and Betfair Live Video

Monaco produced a sensational comeback to defeat PSG 3-2 last weekend and are now looking to build on that stunning triumph with a more routine win at home to Nimes.

Monaco were 2-0 down at home to PSG at half-time but made two substitutions at the interval to turn the game around. Cesc Fabregas (pictured below) and left-back Caio Henrique were excellent after their half-time introduction, with two goals from Kevin Volland and a late Fabregas penalty winner doing the rest.

Monaco manager Niko Kovac is building a fascinating, young and energetic side on the Riviera, and Monaco increasingly look capable of challenging for a top-three spot this season.

To do so, they'll need to pick up maximum points from winnable fixtures like this. They ought to get the job done against visitors who have looked mediocre in all departments in recent weeks.

Nimes were 1-0 winners at Reims last weekend but were lucky to pick up all three points after being under the cosh for much of the game. Their fortuitous victory came after four straight defeats, a run that was more reflective of their recent performance levels.

Nimes also travel to Monaco without two of their best back four: centre-back Anthony Briancon and Norway international left-back Birger Meling are out, their absence robbing Nimes not only of quality but also personality.

Having netted three times against PSG without top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder Monaco ought to be even more dangerous now that the France international striker is back in the fold after a short time out following a positive coronavirus test.

With enough firepower to win by a couple of goals the Asian Handicap's the smart way to make the hosts pay. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.


Underrated Brest the smart selection

Metz vs Brest (10th vs 13th)
Sun, 14:00 GMT
Live on Betfair Live Video

Metz are ahead of Brest in the Ligue 1 standings but if you look at the way these two sides have played recently the odds on the visitors avoiding defeat look too long.

Metz have 16 points to Brest's 15 points with both clubs having played 11 games but Brest have played the better football recently and will be confident of picking up something from this trip. Metz are 2.3 to win, with Brest 3.35 and The Draw 3.5.

Tough to beat, Metz are W2-D3-L0 from their last five games but are rarely the dominant side over 90 minutes. The only time in recent weeks where Metz were actually the better team came against St Etienne (2-0 win) - the same St Etienne that Brest thrashed 4-1 last weekend.

Brest blow hot and cold, but man-for-man will field a stronger starting line-up than Metz this weekend. Brest have tremendous attacking options - Franck Honorat, Ivan Cardona and ex-Huddersfield Town striker Steve Mounie have all found the net recently - which explains why they've scored seven goals in their last two games (4-1 vs St Etienne, 3-2 vs Lille).

In contrast, Metz are still adjusting to life without six-goal top-scorer Ibrahima Niane. He has been ruled out for the remainder of the season by a serious injury he suffered in mid-October. Without Niane, Metz's goals count will flatline at a fairly low level in the months to come.

Brest are worth considering at 3.35. Alternatively, use the big odds on the visitors to back Brest on the Asian Handicap. Our pick on this match means you will make a profit if Brest win or the game ends in a draw.

Galtier to get better of Puel

St Etienne vs Lille (16th vs 2nd)
Sun, 20:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 1 and Betfair Live Video

There are many sub-plots ahead of this game but the headline is that Lille are a good bet to inflict an eighth consecutive defeat on a St Etienne side struggling to escape one of the worst runs of form in their history.

St Etienne manager Claude Puel was famously in charge at Lille (2002-08) while current Lille boss Christophe Galtier built his reputation during a long and popular reign at St Etienne (2009-17) yet there will be no sentiment when these two important figures in the French game take their places on the benches on Sunday night.

Lille are odds-on to win but arguably deserve to be even shorter than the 1.8 available on them given how they've played this season.

Lille are W6-D4-L1 but significantly have dropped points only against sides currently ahead of St Etienne in the standings. Their record against sides that, like St Etienne, are currently in the bottom-half of the table is W3-D0-L0 (including two away wins), with eight goals scored and none conceded.

St Etienne's run of seven straight defeats heading into this game has shown up serious weaknesses, especially in defence: St Etienne have conceded 12 goals in their last five outings and will struggle to shut out a Lille attack that boasts quality on the flanks in the form of Luiz Araujo and Jonathan Bamba, and class in central areas thanks to Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David.

With such an obvious difference in quality Lille are a strong selection to collect all three points.

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