Ligue 1 Tips

James Eastham looks at the odds and the smart selections on the third matchday of the new season in France's top flight...

More misery for beleaguered champions

St Etienne vs Lille
Sat, 20:00 BST
Live on BT Sport 2 and Betfair Live Video

Lille's Ligue 1 title defence has got off to a calamitous start, with last weekend's 4-0 home defeat to Nice a major humiliation.

Lille's defending was appalling in that match and the loss was all the more difficult to bear because the Nice manager that instigated their downfall - Christophe Galtier - was the very coach that led Lille to the title last season.

Galtier's decision to quit having led Lille to their first league triumph in a decade was a major blow for the northern club and has essentially ended any hopes Lille had of successfully defending their crown.

New Lille manager Jocelyn Gourvennec has much less pedigree than Galtier, and the Lille players' performance last weekend suggests that either they have no faith in their new boss, or lack motivation having effectively peaked last season, or - most likely - both.

St Etienne are set to be a mid-table team at best this season but have made a good start in 2021-22 and look capable of capitalising on Lille's major shortcomings when the two sides meet at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Saturday afternoon.

Les Verts showed good spirit to come from 1-0 down to claim a deserved 1-1 draw at home to a decent Lorient side on the opening day of the 2021-22 campaign a fortnight ago.

They then produced an even better performance last weekend to draw 2-2 away to a Lens side that finished in the top-half of the table last season.

St Etienne have failed to sign a single new face during this summer's transfer window so they're relying on last season's players to carry them along.

Striker Wahbi Khazri returned for pre-season in excellent physical condition and has netted twice in two games so far. He'll be confident of adding to that tally this weekend given how poor Lille were defensively last Sunday.

At 3.2, St Etienne are the underdogs: Lille are 2.5, and The Draw 3.4. These prices create a good opportunity to support St Etienne on the Draw No Bet market.

Drama and goals on the cards

Nice vs Marseille
Sun, 19:45 BST
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video

Nice and Marseille promise to be two of Ligue 1's most entertaining sides this season and should serve up a thrilling encounter at the Allianz Riviera on Sunday night.

Nice manager Christophe Galtier - who led Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season - wants his new side to play on the front foot, and that's always the style of his Marseille opposite number Jorge Sampaoli.

These two clubs are targeting top-three finishes this season and have embarked on summer spending sprees to match those ambitions.

Nice have signed Dutch wingers Calvin Stengs and Justin Kluivert and midfielders Pablo Rosario and Mario Lemina. Further new faces may arrive before the window shuts.

Marseille's new-look starting line-up includes Arsenal pair William Saliba and Matteo Guendouzi, ex-Barcelona winger Konrad de la Fuente and one-time Leicester City wide man Cengiz Under, who's already been on the scoresheet this season.

Marseille were involved in two high-scoring encounters across the opening two matchdays: they came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Montpellier on the opening weekend a fortnight ago, then drew 2-2 at home to Bordeaux last weekend.

After a goalless draw at home to Reims to start their campaign, Nice put down a marker last weekend with their stunning 4-0 win away to champions Lille. Denmark international Kasper Dolberg scored twice, while Amine Gouiri was also on the scoresheet and awarded a 9 on 10 in L'Equipe newspaper for the fantastic contributions generally he made in attack.

With attackers on both sides having started the season in fine form, the goals markets are the smart place to focus on this match.

'Yes' in the Both teams to Score? market is available at 1.8. Over 2.5 Goals is available at 2.1. Both are worthy of consideration.

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