France Ligue 2:
I am leaning towards goals today, we all know that Ligue 2 is far more open nowadays with the trend ever upwards 2.25/2.30/2.48/2.62 goals per game (last four seasons) and this round, the first after the New year break, has been surprisingly high scoring. With the 50 games over the last five years seeing 56% go “over” 2.5 and 34% produce at least four, to give that some context, respective full season numbers for 2016-17 were 44% and 26%. Just a cursory look at the 2.5 and 3.5 goal lines for today will show that many appear over priced and are a good starting point for looking at this weekend’s Ligue 2 games.
It pains me to have to leave Olympique Nimes out of today’s notes, especially as they get Ligue 2 top scorer Umut Bozok back in a very offensive looking squad, I would have gone with them against any other second tier opposition today, but feel that odds are correct on this occasion, so have no option but to pass.
Paris FC – Bourg en Bresse Peronnas 01
At the end of September I wrote the following about Bourg Peronnas ……….
One constant in Ligue 2 is the open nature of BEBP games, they are once again averaging 3.22 per start this season and ahead of last week’s 2-1 defeat of Le Havre, my notes included …………
Similar approach here, all four h2h meetings since Bourg Peronnas were promoted have gone “over” and the hosts have played an open style pretty much throughout those 26 months, with their 84 Ligue 2 games averaging 2.845 goals, well above the divisional mean of 2.40.
Bourg Peronnas felt very hard done by in a 2-1 loss on the road to Nancy on Tuesday where they led for 30 minutes, but the game turned on it’s head in six second half minutes. I saw that a little differently, Nancy could easily have scored more and hit the woodwork twice (they sound tailormade for us !) and had a couple of chances blocked with goal line clearances, having said that BEBP never sit on a lead and had a fantastic opportunity to go 2-0 up before the break, but also hit the post. They did look very vulnerable to pace on the right flank and Le Havre attacked a lot on that wing in midweek and that looks a clear route to goal given their speed up top. I expect this to really open up after the first goal and for the visitors to get plenty of space to exploit.
HAC hit the woodwork, missed two big chances and that game could have easily produced another couple of goals.
Then, immediately before the Christmas break updated with ……
BEBP have gone 1-1-7 in L2 since, conceding 24 goals en-route and also shipping four to two low level teams in the Coupe de France. The continued struggles of QRM and Tours have kept them out of the bottom two, but it is going to be a season long struggle to avoid the drop. Now they host Lorient who are third and they have started to play similarly open to BP and, after conceding just 9 in 13, they have given up 10 in their last five, scoring the same number, with both teams contributing in each.
Not impossible, but difficult to see either team happy to settle for a point and if these two were to draw it would probably be 2-2 .
Hosts are going to probably need to score twice to get anything from this, they are just conceding too many chances, an average of 8.5 on target in each of their last four starts against teams playing with 11 (they beat ten man Orleans 4-0).
That did finish 2-2 , Lorient dominated the last 75 minutes after trailing by two early and should have won.
Paris FC are a very different team this season, something we have discussed on multi occasions and early last month I wrote …………
I previewed Paris FC– Lens last Friday ………….
I have spoken a lot about PFC this season, focussing on how far more adventurous they are this time round, compared to after their last promotion to the second tier and how well they had spent what was a very competitive budget.
Nimes head coach Bernard Blaquart, who knows a good player when he sees one spoke at some length ahead of the meeting between the two about the strength of PFC and also how you need to approach Ligue 2 games in general terms ……….. He also spoke about the need to always play for the win and that to finish top 5 (compete for L1) you need close to 1.9 points per game. He was complimentary about Paris FC whom he had watched a lot…………“ a very good team, balanced, complete and homogeneous, they are at the moment euphoric. “They have made good quailty signings, very technical and are one of the best teams of the Championship. “But I fear nothing, it can be an open match. “
PFC beat Nimes 2-1 and we know that was a good result and they have lost just once (to Sochaux) in 12 starts since mid August, they are currently 6th, just three points off second, a relegation campaign is out of the question, so have no fear factor and they know that to have Ligue 1 ambitions, you just have to make the most of fixtures like this. they have drawn their last two, but they were against the top two, Lorient and Reims, they could easily have got more from each and will welcome the lesser opposition today.
They have lost just once in 14 starts and can move into third with three points this evening.
Lens are a massive club, with a budget 5-6 times that of many at this level and with huge support, but they fell out of the blocks this season and lost 8 of their first 9 starts and have been playing catch up ever since, they are 4-2-2 subsequently and already look safe from relegation fears, which were never really an option given how poor 3-4 others look and the resourcesat their disposal, but 14-21 points adrift of the top three, it is very difficult to see how they can push for a promotion spot, which would have been a clear pre season target and it feels like a rebuilding/transitional campaign. They are in good form, but Paris are themselves 3-4-1 through those same eight games and deserved more from a couple . They have played at a high level all season long and it feels like this game as been priced solely on reputation, rather than anything we have seen on the pitch over the last four months. The visitors are again without both John Bostock and Clément Chantôme which will, I assme, mean Djiman Koukou playing the sole holding role, Lens are 0-0-5 conceding 15 goals when he has started.
Some interesting stuff there, but there are none so blind as those who will not see.
Lens again conceded two with Koukou in the middle, but it was not enough and the game finished 2-2, Paris should have won and I wrote ahead of a 2017 ending trip to Nancy that they have let slip quite a few points in recent weeks. But they remain top six, only a point off third and we can expect them to be hunting all three points today. We sided with them there and they won 1-0 to stay 6th, only three points off second place and end a very pleasing year for PFC.
However, today they will be without Hervé Lybohy and Redouane Kerrouche both of whom are suspended. Central defender Lybohy was voted player of the month for December and the last 12 Ligue 2 matches he has missed (two seasons) have averaged 3.08 goals. Kerrouche plays directly in front of Lybohy and the central spine of the team will be weakened in their absence. They are the better team, but difficult to see PFC keeping a clean sheet today and we “know” that the visitors will be giving this a go.
1.75 units “over” 2.5 goals 2.11 asian line/Sportmarket.
Paris FC : Demarconnay, Aupic – Bamba, Bong, Sidibé, Delaine, Karamoko, Yohou – Akichi, Nomenjanahary, Alami, Traoré, Mandouki, Ech-Chergui, Lopez – Tchokounté, Saint-Louis, Lavigne.
Bourg-en-Bresse Peronnas : Deneuve, Callamand, Martin, Amiot, Paye, Faivre, Ponroy, N’Simba, Pierre-Charles, Nirlo, Martins Pereira, Gamiette, Court, Heinry, Tchenkoua, Sarr, Merdji, Begue.