Ligue 1 Tips: Rampant PSG and Monaco set the standards at the top
France has its most gripping title race in years and two of the main contenders should win big this weekend, writes James Eastham...
Hosts to romp to victory
PSG vs St Etienne
Live on BT Sport ESPN and Betfair Live Video
Sun, 12:00 BST
After knocking holders Bayern Munich out of the Champions League PSG will now turn their attentions back to Ligue 1 matters.
Even though they'll already have one eye on their semi-final clash against Manchester City Mauricio Pochettino's players cannot afford to ease up on the domestic front.
PSG go into this week second in the league table, three points behind leaders Lille with six games to go.
So this game is the latest crucial step in their attempts to successfully defend their crown, a challenge proving more difficult than observers expected at the start of the season.
Paris have recently shown that European exertions do not necessarily cause them to lose focus on the league, however.
Just last weekend - with the second leg looming versus Bayern - PSG romped to a 4-1 victory at Strasbourg.
So can expect maximum commitment here, and that ought to produce a comfortable win.
St Etienne's form has improved - but, if anything, that plays into PSG's hands.
Thanks to consecutive wins over Nimes (2-0, away) and Bordeaux (4-1, home), St Etienne now sit nine points above the bottom three with just three rounds of games to play.
In other words, they're virtually safe from relegation and that may have subconsciously entered the players' minds.
There are easier games in the coming weeks for St Etienne manager Claude Puel (pictured below) and his players to get the final few points they need to ensure top-flight football next season.
Given PSG's more urgent need for victory it's a surprise to find the hosts as large as 1.35 to win.
Those odds may look short but PSG are often short for home fixtures vs bottom-half sides.
This rather generous price on PSG opens up the possibility of backing the hosts on the Asian Handicap.
PSG -1.5 Asian Handicap is available at evens. With this selection, you need PSG to win by two or more goals to make a profit. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.
PSG have won by a two-goal margin or better in eight of their 16 home league matches to date this season.
More significantly, they've won by a two-goal margin or better in six of their eight home matches vs sides currently in the bottom-half of the table, with an average goal difference of +2.5 across those eight fixtures.
Monaco's title assault set to continue
Bordeaux vs Monaco
Live on BT Sport ESPN and Betfair Live Video
Sun, 16:05 BST
Monaco are genuine title contenders and a win this weekend would see them take another step towards what would be the unlikeliest Ligue 1 triumph in years.
Niko Kovac's visitors are just four points behind leaders Lille with six matches to go and have the best form of any side near the top of the table.
The Principality outfit have won 11 of their past 13 games, drawing the other two. They've won their last three games with an 11-0 goal difference and kept clean sheets in their last nine outings in all competitions.
With form figures like that, it's little wonder Monaco are finally being treated as serious rivals to Lille, Lyon and PSG.
The atmosphere within the squad is wonderful and players rotate in and out of the side and with no negative impact on the side.
France international striker Wissam Ben Yedder, for example, has started the last two games as a substitute. On each occasion Ben Yedder has come off the bench, scoring twice in each game.
The situation at Bordeaux could not be more different. Tensions are rife within the squad, with fall-outs between the players reportedly taking place on a regular basis.
The lack of unity has had a highly detrimental impact on results, which has seen Bordeaux sucked towards the relegation battle.
Bordeaux have lost nine of their last 11 games (W1-D1-L9), the worst form of any side in the division during that period.
Their sole victory came against bottom club Dijon - cut adrift from the rest of the division - and the draw was against a Marseille side that had two players sent off.
Given the difference in form and morale between these two sides, Bordeaux look powerless to stop the Monaco juggernaut.
The visitors are 1.7 to win but their free-scoring tendencies make the Asian Handicap a better option.
Monaco are 2.3 with a -1.0 Asian Handicap start. With this selection, you'll get your stakes back if Monaco win by a single goal, and make a profit if Monaco win by two or more goals.
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