Ligue 1 Tips: In-form Nice among the smart picks as league action resumes

James Eastham looks at the latest odds and the best plays ahead of the weekend fixtures in France's top flight...

Oppose the overrated hosts

St Etienne vs Bordeaux
Sat, 20:00 BST
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video

St Etienne are 2.00 to win this weekend but there are few reasons to suspect they're so much better than opponents Bordeaux as the market suggests.

Neither of these sides has impressed so far this season yet Bordeaux probably stand a better chance of avoiding defeat than the odds imply. The visitors are 4.3 to win, with The Draw 3.5.

Currently occupying the bottom two positions in the table, Bordeaux have two points to St Etienne's three, yet St Etienne's performance level has got worse, not better, during the opening weeks of the campaign.

A fortnight ago St Etienne were easily beaten (3-1) at Marseille. Then last weekend they slumped to a disappointing 2-0 defeat Montpellier. The club's lack of activity during the summer transfer market has left fans feeling demoralised.

Bordeaux have plenty of their own issues to address - a reliable starting XI has yet to take shape under former Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic, appointed just a week before the season began - but they have already shown some mettle on the road: they 2-2 away to the same Marseille side that easily saw off St Etienne.

Given there's little to pick between the sides, a lay of St Etienne at 2.04 is the choice.

Nice the choice in derby clash

Nice vs Monaco
Sun, 12:00 BST
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video

Nice have been the better of these two sides by some distance in Ligue 1 so far this season yet are rated no better than Monaco to win when they host their local rivals at the Allianz Riviera on Sunday lunchtime.

The game will be played behind closed doors because of the crowd trouble that marred Nice's abandoned home game against Marseille last month, but even shorn of the advantage of home support, Nice will be confident of avoiding defeat at the very least.

Nice have won three and drawn one of their opening four games. They have scored 10 times and are yet to concede. The players have adapted quickly and easily to the 4-4-2 tactics introduced by new manager Christophe Galtier, whose appointment was a major coup after he led Lille to the Ligue 1 title against the odds last season.

Monaco have stumbled and stuttered through the opening weeks of the campaign. Their record in the league is W1-D1-L3, and the meek manner of their 2-0 home defeat to Marseille last weekend is a cause of concern for manager Niko Kovac.

Nice are 2.78 to win, with Monaco exactly the same price, and The Draw 3.35. At those odds, Nice are a tempting proposition. To apply the safety net of getting your stakes back should the game end all-square, back Nice on the Draw No Bet market (or the Asian Handicap market at 0) at close to evens. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.

Low goals the pick in Troyes

Troyes vs Montpellier
Sun, 14:00 BST
Live on Betfair Live Video
Under 2.5 Goals is odds-against ahead of this clash between well-matched sides yet there's little evidence that this game will feature three or more goals.

Three of Troyes' games have featured Under 2.5 Goals, with an average goals count of 2.4. The newly promoted outfit have scored two goals in a game in only one of their five fixtures so far.

On transfer deadline day, Montpellier sold their best two strikers, Andy Delort and Gaetan Laborde, to Nice and Rennes respectively for a total fee of £23 million.

Montpellier's goals count is bound to go down following the loss of two players that had scored a combined tally of 36 goals at a rate of one goal every 177 minutes for Montpellier since the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Replacement striker Valere Germain netted on his Montpellier debut (2-0 win vs St Etienne) last weekend but his Ligue 1 stats for former clubs Monaco and Marseille show that he is less prolific. This change in attack should eventually come through in the goals figures.

In a game that's more likely to be tight than open, Under 2.5 Goals at 2.2 is the selection.

Promoted hosts to come unstuck

Clermont vs Brest
Sun, 14:00 BST
Live on Betfair Live Video

Promoted Clermont have made an impressive start to the season but their odds-on price to collect all three points appears to overrate their chances this weekend.

Manager Pascal Gastien's side began the campaign with consecutive 2-0 wins vs Bordeaux (a) and Troyes (h) but Clermont have since gone three games without a win: they drew 3-3 at Lyon, then 2-2 at home to Metz and lost 4-0 at PSG last weekend.

After five matchdays visitors Brest are five points below Clermont in the standings, but man for man do not look an inferior outfit. They earned a deserved 1-1 against unbeaten Angers last weekend and, like Clermont, have already claimed a point away to Lyon (1-1).

Clermont are 1.9 to win, with Brest 4.4 and The Draw 3.95. At those odds, a lay of Clermont is the choice. By laying Clermont, you'll make a profit if Brest win or the game ends in a draw.

Lorient's fine form set to continue

Reims vs Lorient
Sun, 14:00 BST
Live on Betfair Live Video

Lorient's chances of avoiding defeat at Reims appear underrated given the start that Christophe Pelissier's side have made to the new campaign.

Lorient are W2-D2-L1 from their opening five games of the campaign and have already avoided defeat against sides that are the equal of Reims, if not better than them.

In their last away game Lorient drew (2-2) against a Lens side that secured a top-half finish last season. Lorient have also already won at home to Monaco (1-0) and Lille (2-1) sides that finished in the top five last season but are admittedly struggling at the moment.

Reims sit two places and two points below Lorient in the standings. They earned their first win of the season with a smart performance at Rennes (2-0) last weekend but are a young side that are bound to have ups and downs along the way.

Reims are 2.28 to win, with Lorient 3.5 and The Draw 3.4. The big price on Lorient opens up opportunities to support the visitors.

Either lay Reims, or back Lorient with a small start on the Asian Handicap.

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