Sunday France Ligue 1 Soccer Odds & Picks: Monaco vs. Reims, Lorient vs. Strasbourg

Credit:

Federico Guerra Moran/Getty Images. Pictured: Wissam Ben Yedder.

Editor’s note: Previews for Sunday’s Monaco vs. Reims and Lorient vs. Strasbourg matches have been moved to the top of this piece, while previews for Saturday’s matches as well as Brad Cunningham’s overview of Ligue 1’s opening weekend have been moved to the bottom.


Monaco vs. Reims Odds

Monaco Odds -112 [BET NOW]
Reims Odds +300 [BET NOW]
Draw Odds +250 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2.5 (+123/-155) [BET NOW]
Time Sun., 7 a.m. ET

All odds as of Thursday night and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


This will be a battle of two that finished in the top half of the table last season. Reims had an amazing first first season in Ligue 1, finishing in fifth place and qualifying for a Europa league spot. Monaco’s 2019-20 was a disappointment for team of their transfer budget. They finished in ninth place, but had the third largest total transfer value according to transfermarkt. This will be their second season without European football, so they’ll need to compete for a Champions League spot this year, or heads are going to roll in the south of France.

Monaco

Monaco was a lot better than results showed last season. They finished the season with the third-best expected goal differential in Ligue 1 (+7.47) and the second-best expected goals scored per match (1.73). They were also really good at home, accumulating 25.40 expected points and a +10.52 expected goal differential in 14 matches.

Outside of PSG, matches involving Monaco saw the most expected goals at 3.20 per match, which led to 68% of their matches going over 2.5 goals. Monaco was able to hold on to their entire roster over the transfer window, so I would expect the scoring to continue.

Reims

It was a dream season for Reims in their first season since promotion to Ligue 1. Before the pandemic hit, they were in fifth place and earned a spot in the Europa league this season. However, they were a tad overrated, finishing the season with only a +2.46 expected goal differential, which ranked eighth in Ligue 1.

During the offseason, they did lose their starting center back Axel Disasi, to coincidentally, Monaco. Disasi was the rock at the back of their 4-2-3-1 formation that saw them allow only 0.96 xG per match. They haven’t found a capable replacement for him yet, so there will be a gaping hole in their defense to open the season.

Projections and Pick 

Even though Reims is one of the most defensive teams in Ligue 1, if Monaco scores first this game will be wide open. I like Over 2.5 goals at +123 (DraftKings) and would play it down to +112.

Pick: Over 2.5 goals (+123)

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Lorient vs. Strasbourg Odds

Lorient Odds +150 [BET NOW]
Strasbourg Odds +190 [BET NOW]
Draw Odds +210 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2.5 (+123/-155) [BET NOW]
Time Sun., 9 a.m. ET

Lorient open up their first season in Ligue 1 against Strasbourg on Sunday.  Lorient were champions of Ligue 2 last season, earning them automatic promotion to the top flight. Strasbourg had a fantastic second season in Ligue 1, finishing in 11th place in the table.

Lorient

The reason Lorient were champions of Ligue 2 last season was due to their offense, which averaged 1.75 xG per match. They also had the third-ranked defense, allowing only 1.26 expected goals per match.The high amount of total expected goals per match (3.01) led to 57% of their matches going over 2.5 goals.

With the promotion to Ligue 1, Lorient splashed some of their new cash on Adrian Grbic from Clermont Foot for $9,900,000. Grbic bagged 17 goals and 26 appearances last season. He’ll provide a boost to their offense as they make the transition to the top flight.

Historically, teams transitioning from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1 haven’t been too kind for the majority of newly promoted clubs. On average, teams see around a 40% decrease in goal scoring and a 60% increase in goals allowed from their Ligue 2 numbers. I don’t think Lorient will be one of those teams to buck that trend and will probably be in relegation battle for most of the season.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg improved from their -7.92 expected goal differential during their 2018-19 campaign to a +1.10 expected goal differential last season. The reason for that big leap is they improved their offensive output from 1.07 xG in 2018-19 to 1.28 xG in 2019-20. That may not seem like a big leap, but their defense remained consistent between years, so an increase led to a much higher expected points per match compared to 2018-19.

Strasbourg beat up on the bottom four teams last season, accumulating 13 of a possible 15 points and outscoring their opponents 15-3 in five matches. The bottom four is probably where Lorient will end up at the end of the season, so Strasbourg has a fantastic opportunity to start their season out on the right foot.

Projections and Pick

I don’t understand why Lorient is a slight favorite in this match. Strasbourg finished with a positive expected goal differential and Lorient project to be anywhere near the middle of the table this season. I’ll be back the Strasbourg Draw no Bet line of +105 (DraftKings) and I would bet it down to -104.

Also, since I am projecting 3.16 goals for this match, I will be backing Over 2.5 goals at +130, but I would only make it a small wager, as I’m still testing out some transition numbers from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1.

Picks: Strasbourg Draw no Bet (+105) & Over 2.5 goals (+130)

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Note that these picks were made on Thursday, but you can follow me on the Action Network app to see any additional picks.


Ligue 1 Opening Weekend Preview

France will be the first of the major five European soccer leagues to return for the 2020-21 season this weekend. Ligue 1 was the only league of the major five not to return during the pandemic, so PSG was named champions even though only 28 games were played.

If you’re new to Ligue 1, I think I owe it to you to let you know that you’re not going to see as much goal scoring compared to other leagues in Europe. On average, Ligue 1 scores the lowest expected goals per match of any of the major five leagues:

PSG is the overwhelming favorite to win Ligue 1 at -1430 — and for good reason — because they are in a different stratosphere compared to all the other Ligue 1 clubs. PSG averaged a +1.85 xGD per match last season, and the next closest team was Lille at +0.46. As far as future bets are concerned, I would stay away from this one because PSG is likely going to win the league, but I can’t recommend paying a price of -1430.

A quick note for this weekend’s action:

  • PSG and Lyon’s matches have been postponed due to their Champions League obligations this week.
  • The Marseille vs. Saint Etienne match scheduled for Friday, August 21st has been postponed to four Marseille players testing positive for COVID-19.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into some matches from the seven-match card.

Dijon vs. Angers Odds

Dijon Odds -112 [BET NOW]
Angers Odds +300 [BET NOW]
Draw Odds +215 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2 (-137/+110) [BET NOW]
Time Sat., 11 a.m. ET

Two of Ligue 1’s worst offenses last season square off to open up Saturday’s action, as Angers takes on Dijon. Both teams couldn’t manage to score over 1.00 expected goals per match last season, so this will likely to be a defensive battle.

Dijon

Dijon has been in the relegation battle for the past few years now and just barely survived it due to the pandemic. They ranked 17th in terms of expected points and had an expected goal differential of -11.92 in 28 matches. Their main issue was their offense. They only managed to score 0.99 expected goals per match, which ranked in the bottom three of Ligue 1.

This Dijon squad lacks the talent required to stay up in the top flight. According to transfermarkt, they have the lowest total transfer value of any team in Ligue 1, not including the two newly promoted teams (Lens & Lorient).

With goal scoring an issue for Dijon, their matches averaged 2.29 total expected goals last season. That led to having 53% of their matches score or less goals.

Angers

Angers was the best defensive team in Ligue 1 last year, and they rode that defense to a 10th-place finish. They only allowed 0.93 expected goals per match last season, but all of that focus on their defense really had an effect on their offense, as they only scored 0.99 expected goals per match.

Angers really had trouble scoring on the road last season, as they only managed to score 0.70 xG per match. That low offensive output led to only 12 points in 13 matches and is what kept them from finishing in the top of the table.

With their defensive style of play, there weren’t many high-scoring games involving Angers, as 64% of their matches had two goals or less scored. Playing against another anemic offense and average defense may produce another defensive stalemate.

Projections and Pick 

Two of the worst offenses, combined with the best defense in Ligue 1 last season is a recipe for an under. Currently, Under 2 goals is at +110 on DraftKings, and I like that price since I have 1.71 goals projected for this match. Also, I would play that number down to +103.

Pick: Under 2 goals (+110)

Lille vs. Rennes Odds

Lille Odds +123 [BET NOW]
Rennes Odds +235 [BET NOW]
Draw Odds +215 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 2.5 (+125/-157) [BET NOW]
Time Sat., 3 p.m. ET

This is the best match of the weekend. Rennes finished in third place, one point above Lille last season. With that, Rennes earned a spot in the Champions League, while Lille will be playing in the Europa League this season.

Lille

Before the pandemic ended the Ligue 1 season, Lille was in a fantastic run of form, winning 6 of 7 matches. They were also the second-best team at home, going 11-2-2 and accumulating a 12.2 expected goal differential.

Lille’s attack gets a major upgrade this season, adding young Canadian phenom Jonathan David from Belgium club Genk for $35,200,000. The 20-yea- old scored 18 goals in only 27 appearances in Belgium’s Jupiler League.

Lille did have a big loss though, with center forward Victor Osimhen moving to Napoli in a $77,000,000 transfer. Osimhen provided 13 goals in 27 appearances, so David will have to step up and replace that kind of production.

Other than losing Osimhen, Lille was able to hang on to the rest of their starting XI, including a defense that allowed only 1.01 xG per match. If Lille can build off their 2019-20 season, in which they had the second best expected goal differential, they should challenge for a Champions League spot.

Rennes

Rennes were really fortunate to finish in third place last season. Based on expected points, they should’ve had only 41.18 points compared to their actual 50 point total for the year. They also weren’t very good on the road, accumulating a -3.27 expected goal differential in 14 matches.

Rennes did make any major moves in the transfer market, but they did add Martian Terrier from Lyon for $13,300,00. However, he only managed one goal and one assist in 27 appearances last year.

Projections and Pick

Based on my projected odds, I think there is some value on Lille +123 (DraftKings) at home against an overrated Rennes squad. I also would play it down to +112.

Pick: Lille +123

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