Two matches previewed below, I will cover the US and Brazilian matches in a follow up newsletter at 14.00 UK time.
Several of you have asked about outright bets for the Conference National which starts this weekend, I do not have a long term selection this season, as nothing stands out to me, but as already indicated, I am very keen on two Premier League bets, especially one at a double digit price and will forward both next Friday, August 16th. I expect a lot of transfer activity over the next ten days, so want to leave them as long as possible.... just in case !
France League Cup: Angers-Racing Club Lens
Angers were very pleased with their three points and four goals at Istres and now get their home season underway with a League Cup match with Lens. Ahead of the Friday night victory I wrote ....Angers have been top seven in four of the last five years and were top three last season with six rounds to play and are targeting another push at a promotion spot. They have lost Claudiu Keserü ( 30-17-2) which is obviously a huge loss and Férébory Doré (34-3-6) has also left, they had already signed Khaled Ayari (14-4-0 ) in the January transfer window to play in that secondary striker role and were pleased with him, so the loss of Doré should have less impact. Experienced striker Jérémy Blayac ( 21-6-1 for Tours lasts season in an injury hit campaign, he scored nine the previous season) has joined and with playmaker Alharbi El Jadeyaoui (34-4-10) who had the most Ligue 2 assists last season still at the club, he will get a lot of chances to add to that tally this season. They also signed left winger Ludovic Gamboa (29-9-5) from Laval and I am very keen on him, to contribute to 14 goals in a team who only missed relegation by two points, from just 29 starts, is an incredible return. Despite the loss of Keserü, I like this Angers team, especially if they keep El Jadeyaoui, who I understand is being courted by a couple of clubs. However, that need not worry us today, as he is in the squad, if they did keep him and Blayac had an injury free, or largely injury free campaign, the 30 yo striker could have a huge year. Three of last year's top 4 Ligue 2 strikers were with promoted clubs and something similar to Keserü's tally could win the top goalscorer award this time round.
To score four on the road without Keserü and El Jadeyaoui (who remained on the bench) was a huge boost, incredibly ,the Moroccan midfielder is in London, on a two week trial with Arsenal, so is not in the squad and unlikely to play again for Angers, with a couple of Ligue 1 teams waiting in the wings if the Gunners do not take up the option. He would be a long term loss of course, but they would have money to play with in the transfer market and it should not make too much difference this evening. Only 19 yo midfielder Sofiane Boufal is missing from the starting eleven against Istres, he was replaced after an hour by Charles Diers, who looks likely to start this evening. Angers have gone with the following squad (players in bold type started the last fixture)...
Angers: Alexandre Letellier, Grégory Malicki ,Arnold Bouka Moutou, Jérémy Henin, Djibril Konate, Vincent Manceau, Romain Thomas , Charles Diers, Rayan Frikeche, Ludovic Gamboa, Diego Gomez, Ismaël Keita, Pape Macou Sarr, Jonas Pessalli, Khaled Ayari, Jérémy Blayac
Lens also won their opener 1-0 at home to newly promoted CA Bastia on Sunday, which means two days less recovery time and they start their season, where promotion hopes are high, with three matches inside six days, they face a tough looking trip to Dijon at the weekend, which should be their priority and are clearly looking to make more rotation than the hosts....
Lens: Alphonse Areola, Rudy Riou ; Ludovic Baal, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Ahmed Kantari, Loïck Landre, Nicolas Saint-Ruf ; Wylan Cyprien, Pierre Ducasse, Lalaina Nomenjanahary, Edgar Salli, Pierrick Valdivia ; Jérémie Bela, Pablo Chavarria, Adamo Coulibaly, Dème Ndiaye, Yoann Touzghar.
Patrick Fradj is injured and new coach Antoine Kombouaré has chosen to leave Jérôme Le Moigne, Danjiel Ljuboja and Alaeddine Yahia behind in Lens, that trio are three of the only four outfield players aged 30 +, which I do not think is a coincidence, it is probably wise, but robs them of a lot of experience. The visitors are a very big club by Ligue 2 standards, 27,377 watched their first game of the season ( under 1,000 were at Istres !) and they have to put in a strong promotion push this time round, the cup will surely be low priority, which looks the case judging by the squad they have named and I have to take a little on the hosts. 1.25 units Angers -0.5 ball 2.20-2.25 general quote.
UEFA Champions League: Zulte Waregem- PSV Eindhoven
PSV won the first leg 2-0 which gives them a nice cushion for the return leg which is being played in a "neutral" stadium in Anderlecht. Quite how they only scored two in the first meeting was something of a mystery, their build up play was very impressive and they created chance after chance and it looked like men against boys, or in Champions League terms, master verses pupil. You can watch brief highlights of PSV's many opportunities .
This is Zulte's first ever CL appearance and it was a bit of a wake up call, all the euphoria of playing in the best club competition in the world has disappeared and hopes of turning the tie around this evening are very low. Attendance in Brussels is expected to be under 6,000 in a stadium which hold 4-5 times that and 40% of them will be supporting PSV. Zakaria Bakkali took a lot of headlines after the first leg and PSV look to have unearthed another gem, the fact that he is Belgian makes it just that little more painful. The 17 yo looks the real deal and is also prepared to do his share of defensive work, of his huge contribution from the first leg.The visitors arrive with the same squad which won 3-2 at ADO Den Haag at the weekend, where they were 3-0 up in little more than 30 minutes and then went to automatic pilot, with the second goal for the hosts coming in the 94th minute.
No injury problems for either side, but Hernán Hinostroza of Zulte, who was on the bench last week, has gone home to Peru for family reasons. The "hosts" are having a lot of off the pitch problems, latest came earlier this week, when Thorgan Hazard handed back the captains armband just 24 hours after being given it, following complaints from supporters at his appointment. The board and coach are in dispute and these are not happy times at the club.
Hard to see this as a home fixture for Zulte and it will be a surreal atmoshere inside the stadium, the "hosts" will have to gamble sooner or later and push forward, giving even more space for the visitors and I can see the big Belgian defenders having an equally torrid time this evening as they did in Eindhoven. Hope PSV go with Bakkali, who will out to impress in his homeland and I am sure a full international call up will not be far away for the teenager. 1.5 units PSV -0.75 ball 1.96 asian line/Ibramarket.
Zulte Waregem: Bossut, De fauw, Colpaert, Verboom, Malanda, Habibou, Hazard, Leye, Berrier, Trajkovski, N’Diaye, Vandenbroucke, Naessens, Skulason, Conté, Duplus, Godeau, Bruzzese, D’Haene, Crimi.
PSV : Tyton, Zoet, Rekik, Marcelo, Bruma, Arias, Willems, Brenet, Maher, Toivonen, Schaars, Wijnaldum, Hiljemark, Matavz, Locadia, Jozefzoon, Depay, Bakkali.