FRANCE: LIGUE 1
LAST SIX MATCHES
VALENCIENNES 40 pts -10 goal difference 6 points -5 goals 49% ranking
LORIENT 38 -12 6 -3 53%
CAEN 38 -13 9 -1 28%
NICE 37 -8 9 -1 71%
AJACCIO 37 -22 6 -4 45%
AUXERRE 34 -5 10 + 6 74%
BREST 34 -9 4 -5 38%
DIJON 34 -20 1 -8 12%
SOCHAUX 33 -24 6 -8 42%
Ranking relates to points earned, goal difference and quality of opponent over these last six starts.I will reserve judgement on Valenciennes, who's need has not been quite as great as most of the other teams, but Nice and Auxerre appear to be playing the best of the clubs at the foot of the table and that concurs with my own judgement. Dijon have collected fewest points and against a lower than average quality of opponent and Caen have had a very easy recent schedule and might be vunerable even with 38 points.
Monaco were relegated with 44 points last year and only lost 12 matches, the bottom 12 in Ligue 1 have already lost at least that number this season and 40 points should be enough this season, as it normally is. The bottom three need at least two wins to reach that total and a couple of them have tough schedules, so might struggle to get those and it is possible that 38 might suffice. Anyway, not too much margin for error for the teams with sub 37 points.
Auxerre face an opponent also in good form on Monday when Bordeaux come to the Abbé-Deschamps stadium, the visitors have won three in a row and that has taken them up to eigth in the table, but a 6th-8th place finish is the best they can hope for, no european place up for grabs and it is hard to see them matching the intensity of their hosts, who still have a lot to do to ensure their survival. After this game, Auxerre go to Marseille and then host Montpellier, chances are that the leaders will still need something to clinch the title on the final day and OM despite their poor form, are clearly better than the league table suggests and will not want to lose their final home game of the season . So, for now, this looks about as easy as it is going to get for the rest of the camapign. Hosts have played well since we started to follow them and whilst they are playing an inform team, if the season was restarting today, I would not see too much between these two clubs in terms of where they would finish and we know which is the hungrier. I have to stick with Auxerre and am very pleased with the odds offered, which are almost a quarter ball better than I had hoped for. 1.5 units Auxerre -0.25 ball 2.12 asian line.
In Ligue 1, we already have much the better of the early betting with the Auxerre bet from yesterday and one other game interested me, I would have been all over even a Sochaux side missing a couple of players at 2.0 to beat Nancy and it is very frustrating to see a massive looking 2.20+ on offer, but ill discipline has cost them badly and they have four suspended this evening in Maïga, Mar.Martin, Sauget and Mikari, with Butin already out that means they must start without their playmaker, two top scorers and probably most important defender ! I still couldn't bring myself to back the visitors, but if the hosts are to claim the win they desperately need it will have to be the hard way and without my support.
SOCHAUX : Cros, Richert - Banana, Carlão, Peybernes, Roussillon, Corchia - Doubaï, Boudebouz, Poujol, Lopy, Dias, Osanga, Nogueira, Roudet - Privat, Bakambu
I definitely think that we will see goals in the Reims-Monaco game in Ligue 2, hosts can all but seal promotion with the win, but have a trip to Amiens on Friday to cement the deal, Monaco are probably one of the top two teams in the league right now and we have discussed them a lot recently, they will really welcome this opportunity to test themselves against the side currently second in the table. It will be a very good guide for where they stand with regard to next season, no pressure on the visitors and they can play their normal game, which has been title winning form since Christmas. A 2-2 scoreline would be my pick, but the "over" 2.5 goal line @ 2.05 + will be my official section for 1.25 units.
Reims : Agassa, Liébus - Weber, Mandi, Tacalfred, Glombard, Ramaré, Pereira, Ca, Deaux, Amalfitano, Ayité, Tainmont, Fauré, Ghilas, Courtet.
Monaco : Sourzac, Subasic - Appiah, Kagelmacher, Labor, Pinteaux, Tzavellas, Coulibaly, Dingome, Dirar, Giuly, Mendy, Koman, Tziolis, Barazite, Germain, Salli, Touré.
Visitors have one last chance to put some real pressure on Montpellier, if they win tonight, they will go back to the top on goal difference, ahead of the current leaders trip to Rennes on Monday, the first of a tricky trio of remaining fixtures ( H Lille A Auxerre), if PSG can win their three and they are FAR easier on paper, then it would just need one loss for Montpellier to hand the title to the Parisians. This is huge for PSG and time for the big earning superstars to put in a shift of work. We have seen some fancy stuff from them at times this season, but now they need to roll their sleeves up and battle. This is a very difficult stadium to come and win at, the hosts have won ten home games, the same number as Toulouse and Lille, considered two of the strongest home teams in Ligue 1 and have only lost six times here in the last two seasons. Luckily, at least in the sense that it will give them positive mental memories of the stadium, PSG were one of those victors and have actually won on their last three visits. Carlo Anchelotti said that training had gone very well this week and that all the squad were very determined to win " We are entirely focused on our next match because we think it will be a very important one. If we want to have any chance of finishing champions, we need to win our three remaining matches." He admitted the team had underperformed in their last two road starts and expected a much improved showing this evening. Hosts on 40 points are not yet safe from relegation concerns, but those fears might be eased a little before kick off if both Ajaccio and Brest drop points in the early kickoffs. Either way, if PSG show their best, there should be only one winner and this is their most important game of the season, at least until the next one ( !) and they have to find a way to win. They have failed to score in just two away starts this season and appear ideally suited to palying on the road, in a strange way there is less pressure on them as most of the media wrote off their title chances after they blew a lead at Lille recently, actually they have lost 11 points from winning positions in the last eight weeks and from that aspect, they are lucky to still be in the race, I expect them to make the most of this one final opportunity. 1.75 units PSG -0.5 ball 1.95 + asian line.
PSG have taken almost their full squad to the game, with the exception of Milan Bisevac and Marcos Ceara.
VALENCIENNES: Brocard, Charruau, Penneteau - Bong, Ducourtioux, Gil, Isimat-Mirin, Mater, Traoré - Camara, Cohade, Danic, Djuric, Dossevi, Gomis, Kadir, Saez, Sanchez - Aboubakar, Samassa.
PGA TOUR : WELLS FARGO CHAMPIONSHIP
A very strong laderboard and with so much quality in this top ten, it is very difficult to see anyone coming from off the pace to pass this group of named players like Rory McIlroy did in 2010, with a closing 62, if the young Ulsterman shoots anything like that, he will win going away today, but whilst he has improved his score by two strokes each day, I still feel he is plenty short enough in the betting and his driving and putting have not been the best this week and he is coming off a break since the Masters. Watney and Moore have really disappointed in Round 4 this season and I am happy to discount them both for the time being, Rickie Fowler has played well here before ( closing with a 67 in 2010 for 6th) and finishing 16th last year, when the leaderboard was equally crowded. He got something of a monkey for the season off his back yesterday, with his first sub 70 saturday round of the season and following a top 10 in the Zurich last week, could go close and at 17.0 he is a nice price, i made him an 11-1 chance in a 100% ( no profit) book. I think he could possibly reward a small saver.
My main selection is going to be the leader Webb Simpson, I made him a sub 3.0 chance to win and he can be backed at 3.40 on the exchanges (1.5 units). Simpson is looking for his third tour win in just 17 starts and was ranked inside the top ten for Round 4 scoring in each of the last two years ( 4th last year and 8th in 2010) , he has not shown the same level of form on Sunday yet this year, but it is significant that he has improved his position on one of the two occasions , he has been in contention and he is very comfortable on this course, where not only is he a member, but he lives just one mile away from the facility.
Golf tournaments are won down the finishing straight and not only has Simpson played the last six holes in -5 ( as low as anybody), but he has also dropped the fewest shots to par ( just one) over this sequence of holes. Playing well, strongest over the closing holes, happy with his game ( he was very composed in post round interview yesterday), on a course he could hardly know better and sleeping in his own bed, what more could we ask for ? Fowler is worrying me though, I am sure that he will record that breakthrough PGA win this season and when it does come it will probably be from off the pace like today, so maybe chance a 0-25/ 0.5 unit on him at 17.0 too. Just to stop him spoiling the party.