Ligue 1: The State Of Play
Can Monaco challenge PSG for Le Championnat? Today on the blog French football writer Andrew Gibney takes a look at the early season Ligue 1 betting markets.
It’s safe to say there’s probably not a bad time to live in Monte Carlo. With the almost constant sunshine, beautiful scenery and a football team currently holding top spot in Ligue 1, for AS Monaco it has been a near perfect start to the season.
And while Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and Eric Abidal sit relaxing somewhere poolside their league rivals Paris Saint-Germain have the distraction of the Champions League. Be sure that somewhere on the Cote d’Azur Claudio Ranieri has a wry smile on his face as his side prepare for Sunday’s huge match. This weekend Monaco travel to Paris for the second of the crucial games that will decide the destination of Le Championnat.
Claims For The Title
Despite the Parisian’s slow start to the season Monaco are still odds of 4.75 with Bet Victor to pick up a win in the Parc des Princes. Very good odds considering PSG haven’t won at Monaco since 2007, back then it was Jan Koller not Falcao that lead the line for the Monegasques. The home side are odds of 1.91 with Ladbrokes but the value seems to be in the draw, you can still get at odds of 3.50 with Bet365.
There is no reason why Monaco can’t go to Paris and leave with all three points; the Champions have been less than convincing so far this season. Opening the season with a 2-2 draw at Montpellier, a team that Monaco thrashed 4-1 in their opening home game wasn’t ideal, they were then were help goalless after a heroic goalkeeping performance for Ajaccio’s Mexican star Guillermo Ochoa. Their first win came away at Nantes and for all their dominance Laurent Blanc would have been delighted to squeeze out the 2-1 win, with the game level Nantes had their chances to take the lead. The uncertainty continued as they need two goals after 90 minutes to beat Guingamp at home.
This weekend’s away win at Bordeaux was their best performance to date, with €42 million man Javier Pastore out injured it allowed Marco Verratti and Lucas Moura to flourish and both were influential in their 2-0 win. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani started on the bench, Blanc’s headache will come when he has to try and fit all the parts of this very expensive jigsaw together.
PSG Remain Firm Favourites
Despite their shaky start and the more impressive form of the new boys from Monaco the bookmakers still have PSG are firm favourites to win Ligue 1. They are currently at odds of 1.44 with Sky Bet is the best price you can get. Monaco are still excellent value at odds of 3.35 with 888sport. Their 2-1 comeback win at Marseille showed they were the real deal. This battle will go to the wire.
Ligue 1 2013/2014 Title Odds - Odds as at 19th September 2013.
The Relegation Battle
Outside of the championship race the most exciting part of any Ligue 1 season is usually the relegation battle. Monaco fans will still cringe with horror when they reminisce about the season they went down, with 11 different teams still facing the drop on the final day. Monaco could have finished 11th, they came 17th and dropped to Ligue 2. It’s unlikely that as many teams will be in trouble at the end this season but there are still between six and eight teams that will be in the dogfight till the death.
Sochaux, Evian, Guingamp, Nantes, Ajaccio and Valenciennes are the six that will do well to stay out the bottom three, although Bordeaux are giving their fans quite a lot of cause for concern. A severe lack of a goal scoring threat and an over reliance on Polish midfielder Ludovic Obraniak makes the odds of 18.00 offered by Bwin a really good bet at this point of the season, this price will drop and drop. They face a tough away trip to Lorient followed by games against Reims, Evian and Sochaux, if they don’t win at least two of those games they will find it hard to climb out of the bottom six.
Evian were lucky to hold off Ajaccio to win 3-2 this weekend and they are a team that is one or two injuries away from really struggling. After losing Saber Khelifa, Yannick Sagbo, Mohammed Rabiu and Milos Ninkovic this summer there was serious questions over where the goals or creativity would come from. 25-year-old forward Kevin Berigaud is enjoying the best run of his career, with five goals in five games, some beauties as well. However it is very unlikely that he will be able to keep this going for the whole season and any side that doesn’t have a 10+ goal a season strike will always struggle in this league. They are at odds of 3.60 with Paddy Power to drop to Ligue 2 when it’s all said and done.
Ligue Un 2013/2014 Relegation Odds - Odds as at 19th September 2013.
The Fight For The Top 3
Back up at the top end of the table it sadly looks like the top three is set to finish PSG, Monaco and Marseille, with the outside contenders showing a lack of consistency to challenge at the top. Marseille have taken a stride away from the pack with their summer transfer moves. The €13m+ spent on Florian Thauvin should see them have too quality for the others to contend with, they are at odds of 2.20 with BetFred to finish in the top three, still good value with the likes of Lyon, Lille and Nice all showing that they will struggle to keep pace.
Lyon’s goalless draw against and Lille’s 2-0 defeat at home to Nice show the type of form that will rule them out. Nice are an interesting club to watch, now the defensive problems seem to be over. Argentine goal-machine Dario Cvitanich showed on Sunday that he needs just a glimpse at goal to find the back of the net, and with Eric Bautheac, Valentin Eysseric and Christian Bruls, they are exciting and dynamic when it works and right now on 888sport you can get them to finish in the top three at odds of 25.00 – must be worth a small investment. Their next three games against Valenciennes (in which they move into the new and amazing Allianz Riviera), Nantes and Guingamp are all very winnable.
Ligue Un 2013/2014 Top 3 Odds - Odds as at 19th September 2013.
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Follow Andrew on Twitter: @Gibney_A
And read more of his work at FrenchFootballWeekly.com