Ligue 1 Tips: Nice to underline top-three credentials with bounce-back victory

As Ligue 1 swings back into action after the international break, James Eastham reveals the smart selections this weekend...

Visitors simply too strong

Clermont vs Nice (15th vs 3rd)
Sun, 16:00 GMT
Live on Betfair Live Video and BT Sport 2

Christophe Galtier's Nice are worth supporting at an odds-against price when they travel to take on Clermont on Sunday afternoon.

Nice suffered a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Montpellier last time out but if anything that makes them a stronger bet as they have bounced back by winning on the previous two occasions they lost this season.

In September they lost 1-0 at Lorient and won 3-0 at St Etienne three days later. In October they lost 1-0 at Troyes and won 3-2 at home to Lyon the following weekend.

Galtier - who led Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season - is a tough taskmaster and won't tolerate two below-par performances in a row.

He knows Nice need to win games like this to achieve their ambitions of claiming a top-three place this season.

Nice are 10 points and 12 places above Clermont in the standings and should have too much quality for the promoted hosts.

Clermont are W3-D4-L6 for the season and their form has got worse as the campaign has worn on.

After starting 2021-22 brightly they have won just one of their last 11 matches and head into this game on a run of three straight defeats.

Central defender Cedric Hountondji is ruled out for Clermont this weekend and that's a significant blow that plays into Nice's hands.

Hountondji has started all 13 league games so far and the Clermont back line will be considerably weaker without towering (1.95m) presence.

In Andy Delort, Amine Gouiri and Denmark international Kasper Dolberg Nice have three strikers eminently capable of exploiting flaws in the home defence. The trio have 14 goals between them at a rate of a goal every 155 minutes.

All things considered, Nice are a good selection at 2.3.

Low goals the smart play

Lyon vs Marseille (7th vs 4th)
Sun, 19:45 GMT
Live on Betfair Live Video and BT Sport 2

This ought to be an absorbing 'Clash of the Olympiques' but the game between two of Ligue 1's biggest clubs may not be as open as the market suggests.

Olympique Lyon and Olympique de Marseille go head-to-head at Groupama Stadium in the big televised showdown on Sunday night and the latest odds points towards this being a high-scoring encounter.

Over 2.5 Goals is a short 1.6 while Over 3.0 on the Goal Lines market is 1.95.

Lyon's games are seen as worth backing to contain a lot of goals, and with good reason: their 13 games to date have averaged 3.23 goals a game, well above the league average.

Marseille's games have been far low-scoring, however - their 13 fixtures have averaged just 2.46 goals a game.

Look more closely at the stats on both sides and Unders becomes the smarter pick.

Five of Lyon's games have had Under 2.5 Goals, with three having exactly 3 Goals and five having over 3.5 Goals.

Nine of Marseille's games have had Under 2.5 Goals, with four having over 3.5 Goals, and none having exactly 3 Goals.

Put those stats together and only 35% of Lyon and Marseille's combined games have had Over 3.5 Goals.

Then there's the fact that Lyon may be a more defensively aware than usual after the 4-1 mauling suffered at the hands at Rennes last time out.

Conscious of the psychological damage that a second consecutive defeat against top-four rivals might inflict on his players, Lyon manager Peter Bosz may instruct his side to play more cautiously than they normally would.

At evens, Under 3 appears a smarter bet than Over 3 on the Goal Lines market.

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