Ligue 1 Betting: Monaco to trip up on opening weekend

Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim
Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim has overseen a huge number of transfers in and out of the club this summer
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Expect goals in Marseille in Friday night's season opener and a tough Saturday afternoon in Nantes for last season's runners-up, writes James Eastham...

"Marseille will be weaker at the back without World Cup winners Steve Mandanda and Adil Rami but will be confident of scoring against a Toulouse back line that has lost its best defender as Issa Diop has gone to West Ham."

Best Bet: Marseille v Toulouse Both Teams to Score @ [2.02]

Goals in store at Stade Velodrome

Marseille v Toulouse
Fri, 19:45 BST
Live on Betfair Live Video

Marseille manager Rudi Garcia will be slightly worried heading into Friday night's curtain-raiser at Stade Velodrome. It's been a difficult pre-season for l'OM, with the side that finished fourth in last season's final standings having lost four of their seven friendlies.

The team will also be depleted following the £30 million sale of midfielder Frank Zambo-Anguissa to Fulham on Thursday evening.

Marseille's trio of France World Cup winners - goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, centre-back Adil Rami and winger Florian Thauvin - are also missing having returned to training only at the start of the week.

Those defensive absences greatly increase the chance of the home side conceding, especially as Toulouse have reshaped their forward line over the summer and look more dangerous than they did last season.

By adding playmaker Manu Garcia, winger Thomas Dossevi and striker Aaron Leya, manager Alain Casanova - taking charge for a second spell at the club - has tried to improve an attack that faltered throughout 2017-18.

At the other end Marseille will surely find the net themselves. Dimitri Payet will have a point to prove having missed the World Cup through injury and strikers Valere Germain and Konstantinos Mitroglu should both get match time in front of a large crowd at Stade Velodrome.

Taking all factors into account, 'Yes' in the Both Teams to Score? market looks the smart selection.

Faltering Monaco a work in progress

Nantes vs Monaco
Sat, 16:00 BST
Live on Betfair Live Video

Monaco will be top-three contenders this season but this game appears to have come to soon for the Principality outfit, throwing up the opportunity to oppose them.

Around 30 players have come and gone during an incredible summer of transfer activity and that means manager Leonardo Jardim has no idea what his best team is heading into the campaign.

Having fielded a weakened line-up Monaco were all over the place at times during their 4-0 Champions Trophy defeat to PSG last weekend and it's unlikely Jardim will have got his players into anything resembling winning order ahead of this game.

Star summer signing Alexander Golovin will sit the game out through injury, while key marksman Falcao is also a doubt. France World Cup winner Djibril Sidibe may be given the weekend off having only recently returned to full training, while Monaco are still coming to terms with the summer sales of Fabinho and Thomas Lemar, who have been so important over the past couple of seasons.

Nantes look primed to take advantage. New manager Miguel Cardoso has come in over the summer and reinvigorated a squad that had grown stale under his predecessor Claudio Ranieri.

The arrival of Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Lucas Evangelista (Udinese), Gabriel Boschilia (Monaco) and Majeed Waris (FC Porto) represents good business, and improves a squad that finish ninth last season.

Nantes can also count on some of the noisiest fans in France. With good support from the stands and Monaco still in the midst of a rebuilding progress, the hosts will be confident of avoiding defeat.

Rennes set to make strong start

Lille vs Rennes
Sat, 19:00 BST
Live on Betfair Live Video

It's been another chaotic summer at Lille, with the club situated in the north-eastern corner of France looking anything but ready for the opening weekend.

Financial problems mean that Lille promised to raise €90 million through player sales to balance the books, but as the Premier League transfer window slammed firmly shut on Thursday night they were some way from having met that target.

The sales of Kevin Malcuit (Napoli), Ibrahim Amadou (Sevilla), Yves Bissouma (Brighton) and Eder (Lokomotiv Moscow) have raised around £40 million, which means Lille's future remains uncertain.

They've signed Portugal defender Jose Fonte, ex-Chelsea striker Loic Remy and promising France youth internationals Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone, but manager Christophe Galtier will have his work cut out to pick through the squad and field a competitive side on Saturday night.

Rennes finished fifth last season and look a sound bet to finish in a similar position this season. Manager Sabri Lamouchi is one of the most promising in the business and Rennes' transfer activity has been ambitiously smart over the summer.

The spine of the side looks stronger thanks to the addition of Damien Da Silva (Caen), ex-Lyon schemer Clement Grenier (Guingamp) and £10.5 million striker Jordan Siebatcheu (Reims), arguably the best all-round front player in Ligue 2 last season.

Given the relative strength of the two likely starting line-ups and the events these two clubs have had to deal with over the summer, it's a minor surprise to find that Rennes are underdogs. Take advantage by backing the visitors to avoid defeat.

James' final 2017-18 P/L

Staked: 107pts
Returned: 113.93pts
P/L: +6.93pts (6.5% ROI)

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