With Newcastle struggling for goals it must be hard watching Florian Thauvin banging them in for Marseille, as James Horncastle discusses...
"Only PSG have scored more in Europe's top five leagues since the New Year began."
Marseille have come out with all guns blazing in 2018. Only PSG have scored more in Europe's top five leagues since the New Year began and OM didn't keep their powder dry in the cup either.
Bourg-Peronnas were blown away 9-0 on Tuesday and the goals aren't limited to one or two in-form players with Marseille sharing them around. Seven of Rudi Garcia's charges have found the net on two or more occasions since returning to work after the winter break.
Still it's Florian Thauvin who is stealing the headlines. Only Luis Suarez has been more prolific than the former Newcastle striker this calendar year and on this form Didier Deschamps has to be giving serious consideration to including him in his squad for the World Cup. Thauvin scored a hat-trick in last weekend's 6-3 demolition of Metz and has been excellent coming in from the right to play off Kostas Mitroglou.
On Friday, Marseille travel to Saint Etienne who have a new momentum about them under Jean-Louis Gasset. His impact has been instant but les Verts are not clear of the relegation fight just yet despite encouraging back-to-back wins against Caen and Amiens.
Of course Marseille's visit to the Geoffroy-Guichard represents an entirely different proposition with Garcia's side currently second in Ligue 1 and flying. They've been beaten just once in 20 games in France. Thauvin is 6/4 as an Anytime on the Sportsbook.
The name is James...
The Top Spiel in the Bundesliga this weekend is at the Allianz Arena where league leaders Bayern take on top four hopefuls Schalke. Conversation in the build-up to this one has understandably been dominated by Leon Goretzka, the Schalke midfielder who, with only months left on his contract in Gelsenkirchen, has agreed to join Bayern in the summer.
Threatening to lure attention away from the Germany international is James Rodriguez whose form since the turn of the year has been exceptional. The Colombian, on loan from Real Madrid, has been involved in a goal in every game since the start of the Rückrunde.
Jupp Heynckes called him a "Godsend" after his performance against Mainz last weekend when he teed up Franck Ribery for Bayern's first and then put the game beyond all doubt with a goal of his own on the stroke of half-time.
It's great to see James hit such heights again after ending up on the margins at the Bernabeu. The upturn in his form is excellent news for the Bavarians who now have an extra weapon with which to wreak havoc in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
James' delivery is up there with the very best and his ability to score from free-kicks makes Bayern even more lethal than they already were. Uber confident at the moment, it's worth looking at James in the To Score market. Particularly when he is trading @ [2.4] on the exchange.
Where Eagles Dare
Just when Lazio looked like they might be about to wrap up third place, the Eagles have succumbed to a bout of vertigo. Monday's unexpected defeat to Genoa at the Stadio Olimpico was their second in a row and all of a sudden their qualification for next season's Champions League perhaps isn't as cut and dry as we thought.
Patrick Cutrone's Hand of God, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's suspension and a bust-up between coach Simone Inzaghi and Felipe Anderson have all converged to make this the most challenging moment of the campaign for the Biancocelesti who, for the first time, are beginning to look a little jaded from their continued participation in the Coppa Italia and the soon-to-resume Europa League.
The timing of their trip to Napoli is hardly ideal then. But Lazio can be expected to give the league leaders a hard game. Don't be fooled by their 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture. Lazio took the lead in that game. They then lost centre-backs Stefan de Vrij and Bastos to injury, leaving Inzaghi with no option but to play Lucas Leiva and Dusan Basta in defence. Milinkovic also got hurt as did Basta had to hobble off before the end leaving Lazio to finish the game with 10 men.
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Bad luck has struck Lazio more than most this season, which makes you respect where they are in the table even more. Excellent on the road under Inzaghi they upset Juventus at the Allianz Stadium and will be hopeful of causing Napoli problems especially with Milinkovic back from his ban. The Eagles can get something at the San Paolo. Take them on Double Chance @ [2.42].
Back Florian Thauvin @ 6/4 to score anytime
Back James Rodriquex @ [2.4] to score anytime.
Back Lazio Double Chance @ [2.42] v Napoli