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Ligue 1 Betting: Underperforming Marseille finally set to come unstuck

Mathieu Valbuena (right) in action against Brest last weekend

"Marseille's recent results have been better than performances so their price away from home looks too short"

Lorient +0&+0.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.910/11

After increasing his profit for the season last Sunday, James Eastham picks out the best bets from this weekend's top French matches.

Lorient v Marseille (7th v 2nd) Sat, 16:00 BST 

Backing a team that has nothing to play for is always a risk, but I'm willing to do so this weekend.

Sitting seventh in the table, Lorient are several points behind the European positions with only five games to play so it would be understandable if they conserved their energy for their French Cup semi-final at Evian on May 8.

Yet this is the sort of game where I can see Lorient causing an upset. Firstly, the hosts are a naturally fluid attacking team that has the potential to play entertainingly effective football regardless of whether there is something at stake. We saw this when they beat Bastia 4-1 in their last home game a fortnight ago.

Secondly, Marseille's seven-game unbeaten streak (W4-D3-L0) going into the game is misleading in the sense performances have been less convincing than their 15pt tally would imply. Last weekend's 1-0 win over Brest was a fine example: even though Brest are playing the worst football in the division at the moment, Marseille laboured to that single-goal victory, managing just two shots on target.

There is plenty to admire about Marseille's dogged durability but the simple fact is the gulf in quality between these sides is not quite as big as the league standings imply.

Despite home advantage Lorient are outsiders on the day - they're 3.185/40, to Marseille's 2.568/5, with the draw 3.3512/5. My recommendation would be to support the hosts with an Asian Handicap start. That way you'll make money if Lorient win or if the game ends in a draw.


Bastia v Toulouse (13th v 11th)

The stats suggest this will be a high-scoring encounter between two sides with little to play for.

Bastia's home games have been the highest-scoring in the division this season - 12 out of 16 have featured over 2.5 goals, with the goals-per-game count an average of 3.25. Sitting 6pts above the relegation zone the Corsicans have all but secured Ligue 1 survival (their boss Frederic Hantz deserves the Coach of the Year prize) but even though there's little at stake Bastia's notoriously passionate fans and the team's instinctively attacking style should ensure a positive approach.

Toulouse should benefit from the gaps Bastia leave in defence. In Wissam Ben Yedder the visitors have one of the division's in-form goalscorers (the former France futsal international has scored three goals in his last three starts) and as a team Toulouse have shown their ability to find the net in matches like this: they have scored in six of seven away games at sides currently below them in the table.

Over 2.5 goals is the selection.


Recommended Bets
Best Bet: Lorient +0&+0.5 Asian Handicap at home v Marseille @ 1.910/11
Bastia v Toulouse Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.9520/21

James Eastham has made 19.64pts profit from 112pts staked (17.5% ROI) on Ligue 1 matches this season. You can follow him on Twitter: @james_eastham

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26 April 2013

French Football

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