Ligue 1 Betting: Balotelli and Mbappe in form to light up 'Le Classique'
France's fiercest rivals go head-to-head on Sunday night and it promises to be a thrilling affair, writes James Eastham...
"Lyon have conceded in nine of their last 10 games in all competitions. Montpellier have scored six times in their last three matches and have one of the division's most dangerous attacking duos in Andy Delort and Gaetan Laborde."
Lille's top-three march set to stall
Lille vs Monaco (2nd vs 17th)
Fri, 19:45 GMT
Live on BT Sport ESPN and Betfair Live Video
Monaco's dramatic improvement since their excellent January transfer business and the re-appointment of Leonardo Jardim as manager towards the end of the same month means the difference in quality between these sides is nowhere near as big as their league positions suggest.
Were you to combine the two squads and pick a Best XI there's a good chance there'd be more Monaco than Lille players on the teamsheet: playmaker Aleksandr Golovin, winger Rony Lopes, Cesc Fabregas (absent through injury this weekend) and left-back Fode Ballo Toure - who left Lille for Monaco in a €13 million deal in January - would certainly all feature.
Lille have their own danger man in Nicolas Pepe, one of the most coveted players in Europe thanks to a series of outstanding performances this season. Rated in the €40 million bracket having scored 17 times and provided eight assists, he's unlikely to be plying his trade in this particular corner of north-eastern France next season.
Until then, however, he's firmly focused on ensuring Lille claim a top-three spot. Lille's chances of doing so are good - they're 10 points clear of fourth-placed Marseille with only 10 games to go - but Monaco are unbeaten in six matches (W3-D3-L0) and look strong enough to extend their unbeaten run this weekend.
Lyon's defence to wobble again
Lyon vs Montpellier (3rd vs 7th)
Sun, 13:30 GMT
Live on BT Sport 3 and Betfair Live Video
Lyon need to pick themselves up quickly from the disappointment of their 5-1 drubbing at Barcelona on Wednesday night. There was no shame in losing so heavily to Lionel Messi and co. given the virtuoso performance the little Argentinian and his team-mates turned in but Lyon need to immediately re-focus on domestic matters as the race for a top-three place is hotting up.
Lyon lie third in the Ligue 1 table but in-form Marseille are fourth and have closed the gap to just three points. The two sides go head-to-head just three games before the end of the season on May 12 so Lyon will want to get as many points on the board from winnable home games such as this weekend's before facing the team fast emerging as their main challengers for a top-three spot.
The concern is Lyon's wobbly defence. They've conceded at least once in nine of their last 10 fixtures in all competitions. They'll be below-strength on Sunday as goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and left-back Ferland Mendy are ruled out. And visitors Montpellier have improved in the final third as the season has gone on: having struggled for goals in the opening couple of months of the campaign they've scored six times in their last three matches and 12 times in eight fixtures since late January.
Montpellier front two Andy Delort and Gaetan Laborde - who've notched 10 goals each - have struck up an excellent understanding and are one of the division's most dangerous pairings. Given the form of the visiting strikers and Lyon's chronic struggles to keep clean sheets, Over 2.5 Goals is worth attention at [1.7], but we prefer 'Yes' in the Both Teams to Score? market at [1.85].
Super Mario ready to shine
PSG vs Marseille (1st vs 4th)
Sun, 20:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 2 and Betfair Live Video
Marseille's dramatic improvement over the past six weeks means they ought to contribute significantly to an open and entertaining 'Classique' in front of a sell-out crowd and massive TV audience on Sunday night. Rudi Garcia's visitors have obtained five wins and a draw from their last six matches, and travel to Paris confident they can trouble the champions.
A victory and even a draw are likely to be beyond l'OM but the visitors have the form and firepower to cause problems for a PSG defence that has looked far from perfect this season. Mario Balotelli has begun his Marseille career in imperious fashion - he's netted five goals in seven appearances at a rate of a goal every 95 minutes - and he'll be determined to enjoy another evening in the limelight by scoring at Parc des Princes.
Edinson Cavani's an injury doubt for the hosts but that barely matters given Kylian Mbappe's form. A shoo-in for the Ligue 1 Golden Boot and Player of the Year prizes, the 20-year-old France international's scored 25 times in 22 Ligue 1 appearances at a rate of a goal every 71 minutes this season. It's little wonder he's now widely regarded as the world's third best player behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Over 3.5 Goals will attract attention at [2.2], but we prefer 'Yes' in the Both Teams to Score? market at [1.80]. Sit back and enjoy a game that Mbappe and Balotelli should illuminate as only they can.
James’ 2018-19 P/L
Lay Lille at home to Monaco @ [2.1]
Lyon vs Montpellier Both Teams to Score @ [1.85]
PSG vs Marseille Both Teams to Score @ [1.8]