Ligue 1 Tips: Defences on top during Sunday showdowns

James Eastham looks at the odds and picks out the best bets ahead of the latest round of games in France's top flight...

Rennes vs Nice (2nd vs 4th)

Sun, 14:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport ESPN and Betfair Live Video

Two of France's most fascinating sides go head-to-head at Roazhan Park on Sunday afternoon.

Rennes are arguably playing Ligue 1's best football right now while the work Nice manager Christophe Galtier is doing to improve the Riviera outfit is absorbing to watch.

Those expecting a flurry of goals in Brittany may be disappointed, however, and Under 2.5 Goals is our selection on this match.

Galtier's likely approach is the reason we expect a less open match than the market does, especially in the early stages.

Last weekend Nice suffered their most humiliating defeat of the season when they lost 3-0 at home to Strasbourg.

On the back of that heavy loss Galtier will instruct his players to focus on defending more than they did last week, and to do their defensive work better.

A more defensive approach paid dividends for Nice a fortnight ago when they earned a 0-0 draw against runaway league leaders PSG at Parc des Princes.

Galtier was absolutely delighted with how his side performed on the day so we can confidently predict he'll instruct his players to take a similar approach here.

Rennes are in good form and have the quality to cause the Nice defence some problems.

Nine-goal top scorer Gaetan Laborde (who also has five assists) has been outstanding since his £14 million late-August move from Montpellier. In midfield it's easy to see why Croatia international Lovro Majer has been touted as the heir to Luka Modric in the national team.

Rennes ran out 5-0 winners at St Etienne last weekend so go into this game with plenty of confidence.

But a defensive-minded Nice will be a much stiffer proposition than St Etienne were, and that ought to curtail the goals count.

Under 2.5 Goals is available at close to evens and that's a smart selection given how Nice are likely to set-up.

PSG vs Monaco (1st vs 7th)
Sun, 19:45 GMT
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video

Sunday night's showdown between two of Ligue 1's biggest names should be a superb contest.

PSG have built up a massive lead at the top of the table without playing particularly well, while Monaco have hit good form after a slow start to the season.

Paris are 11 points ahead of nearest challengers Rennes despite playing below their potential.

Monaco arrive on the back of impressive consecutive victories that saw them triumph at Angers (3-1) before thrashing Metz (4-0) at home last weekend.

Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are expected to start and Monaco are obviously in fine scoring form yet there may be fewer goals than the market expects.

The last Ligue 1 team to visit Parc des Princes were Monaco's Riviera neighbours Nice a fortnight ago. They frustrated PSG with a smart defensive gameplan to earn a 0-0 draw.

Last weekend Lens proved that Nice's obduracy was no one-off as they frustrated PSG in similar fashion. Paris needed an injury-time Georginio Wijnaldum equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw.

Monaco coach Niko Kovac will have been watching closely and should come up with his own variation on this theme to trouble the home side.

Under 3.0 & 3.5 is available on the Goal Lines market at just under evens, which looks a good bet given how hard PSG are likely to have to work to break down the visitors.

With this selection, the stats are also on your side.

Only six of PSG's 17 games and seven of Monaco's 17 games have had three or more goals this season. Taking just home and away form into account, only three of PSG's eight home matches and three of Monaco's eight away matches have had three or more goals.

In other words, the stats for the season to date suggest there's relatively little downside to our selection on this game.

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