Ligue 1 Tips: New-look Nice and Marseille to dazzle as league action returns

Two ambitious clubs should steal the show this weekend, writes James Eastham, as he brings you the best odds and selections in France's top flight...

Opposing Monaco the smart choice

Monaco vs Marseille (14th vs 5th)
Sat, 20:00 BST
Live on BT Sport Extra 2 and Betfair Live Video

Monaco are strong favourites to claim victory when they meet rivals Marseille at the weekend yet the way the two sides have played during the opening weeks of the season suggests the value lies with the visitors.

These two clubs will expect to challenge for a top-three place this season and of the two it's Jorge Sampaoli's Marseille that have made the more promising start to the campaign.

While Monaco have a W2-D2-L3 record from their games in all competitions this season, Marseille are a more impressive W2-D1-L0 and have played the better football.

In their last fixture before the international break, Marseille ran out 3-1 winners at home to St Etienne in a performance that showcased the side's attacking potential.

For Marseille, Dimitri Payet has begun the season in magnificent form, and although he is suspended this weekend, the supporting cast includes summer signings Konrad de la Fuente, Cengiz Under and new Brazil international Gerson. All of these and other in-form players are included in the Marseille squad and will be keen to shine.

The trip to face Monaco will hold no fears for a Marseille side that, man for man, look as good as the hosts.

Monaco have yet to hit top form and there have been rumours of unrest within the squad during the opening weeks of the campaign.

The 2.12 price for a home victory looks too short. Marseille are 3.65 to win, with The Draw 3.7.

The large price on a Marseille win is appealing and opens up the opportunity either to back the visitors on the Asian Handicap market or simply to lay the hosts. By laying the hosts, you'll make money as long as Monaco don't win.

Galtier to mastermind Nice win

Nantes vs Nice (12th vs 4th)
Sun, 16:00 BST
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video

Rebuilt Nice should challenge for a top-three spot this season and this weekend's fixture against Nantes is the sort of match Christophe Galtier's considerably strengthened side ought to win.

Galtier led Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season and promptly quit to take over at highly ambitious Nice, who have tremendous financial backing and a desire to emulate Lille by establishing themselves as one of the country's leading sides.

Nice have spent more than £40 million over the summer, adding no fewer than five new faces to their ideal starting XI. Left-back Melvin Bard, wingers Calvin Stengs and Justin Kluivert plus midfield duo Mario Lemina and Pablo Rosario are the upgrades that Galtier wanted and have already made the side stronger.

On transfer deadline day Nice added a further new face when they splashed out £9 million to sign Montpellier's Algeria international Andy Delort. He has a tremendous Ligue 1 scoring record and the sort of winning mentality that should add a ruthless edge to the Nice attack.

Nice are W2-D1-L0 from their opening three games of the season, with an astonishing F8-A0 goals record. They have already shown their mettle on the road, stunning champions Lille with a 4-0 win at Lille on August 14.

At 2.3 the visitors are a smart selection to defeat hosts that look weaker than Nice in every area of the pitch.

Sunday night thriller on the cards

Lyon vs Strasbourg (9th vs 13th)
Sun, 19:45 BST
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video

Goals will be the order of the day when Lyon host Strasbourg in the big televised game on Sunday night.

Lyon have attacked well but defended poorly so far this season. Their four games have averaged three goals a game, with two of the four featuring three or more goals.

The same strengths and weaknesses apply to Strasbourg. The visitors lost a number of central defenders over the summer and new manager Julien Stephan has embarked on a defensive rebuilding programme that is far from complete.

Strasbourg have conceded eight games in their four fixtures to date and will struggle to shut out Lyon's dangerous front line.

At the other end, however, Strasbourg can count on the attacking threat posed by three dangerous strikers: Ludovic Ajorque scored 16 goals in 35 league appearances last season, while fellow striker Habib Diallo weighed in with nine goals of his own.

Added to those two are the talents of Kevin Gameiro, who re-signed for Strasbourg over the summer after more than a decade away.

Since leaving Strasbourg - the club where he came through the youth ranks - in 2008, ex-France striker Gameiro has played with distinction for Lorient, PSG, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Valencia. At 34, he adds quality and experience to the Strasbourg front line.

With attacks better than defences on both sides, going high on the goals markets is the way to play this game. Over 3 Goals will be available at around 1.95 and this is our selection.

If the game has exactly three goals, you'll get your stakes back. If the match features four or more goals, you'll make a profit.

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