Montpellier HSC vs AS Saint-Etienne


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Today’s free tip is in the French Ligue 1 encounter between Montpellier HSC and AS Saint-Etienne.

I wasn’t going to get involved here at first, given how well Montpellier HSC have played lately, and AS Saint-Etienne’s desperation for points. However, the absentee list has convinced me to do it, so here we are!

For the hosts, they’ve got even more defenders than usual. Veteran centre-back Hilton is suspended (how dare anyone suspend such a stalwart of Ligue 1?!), another regular – Mendes – is out too, and Oyongo, resigned from his miserable spell in Russia, is still injured too. Furthermore, ex-Olympique Lyonnais defensive midfielder Ferri, a real revelation at La Mosson over the past couple of years, is also out. On top of that, backup defender Souquet is also out. In essence, Montpellier HSC find themselves without leaders, organisers, and experience at the back here, which is very dangerous against a capable Les Verts attack.

Do I dare oppose Montpellier HSC whilst they’re in such a mood, though? No, particularly not at the unpredictable La Mosson. I might do for the Racing Club Strasbourg game as Les Pailladins are sure to prioritise their forthcoming Coupe de France tie with Paris Saint-Germain, but for now, I believe the home team will cause problems as they push for a European place. A recent resurgence from Olympique de Marseille and Stade Rennais since their respective managerial changes makes such difficult, but the mounting injury problems of Racing Club Lens makes it far less unrealistic than the Ligue 1 table would have you believe that it is.

Montpellier HSC have nothing to lose here, basically. They aren’t going to be any worse off, whatever happens, so they may as well have a go. This is a very spirited group, and they’ve got a dangerous attack too. Der Zakarian has high hopes for promising youngster Wahi, but it’s target man Laborde, Mavididi, and tricky Delort that have done the damage this season. To get Laborde and Delort back to their best, both at the same time, is something that is arguably worthy of knighthood. When they’re on it though, they’re really good players – and they are. Mollet and Savanier have done really well at supporting them this season too, and I shouldn’t exclude Sambia, whether he’s deployed at full-back or in the middle of the park. This is a very mobile, confident group of fearless players, basically, and they should play in such a manner here.

I mean, there’s no real reason for them to fear AS Saint-Etienne right now, and with the players they’ve got out, keeping a clean sheet should be out of the equation. Therefore, Les Pailladins need to go for three points, and they might just get them if they’re bold enough. I mean, Puel has changed his style massively at Les Verts, trying to get them to play the old Galtier way, and although they’re undeniably more entertaining than they were, they’re also a lot less consistent in terms of picking up points. It’s really more of a coin toss as to whether they win, draw, or lose nowadays.

The quality of the visitors is undeniable though. You may not believe me, looking at the Ligue 1 table, but the visitors have better match-winners than their hosts. They’ve had yet another dismal campaign, and are still in the relegation battle, but they have a surprisingly good squad. Proving it is another matter though, and injuries has hurt their ability to show it. Fortunately, Bouanga has come to the fore after Hamouma’s injury problems, and Boudebouz’s inability to remember how to strike a ball. This is far from a perfect team, but it’s one that I’m beginning to warm to.

See, I like the class acts they’ve brought in over the years but it became clear that too many of them just didn’t give a fuck. Subsequently, Les Verts have opted to take a page out of OGC Nice’s book by promoting some of their kids to impress – and that’s going fairly well. Abi, Nordin, Rivera, and Youssouf – they’re not special, but they do good jobs at this level, and they give a shit. Aouchiche, Camara, and Gourna-Douath, though – they could be very special. Essentially, what this has done is given AS Saint-Etienne a greater sense of who they are. They play with a lot more pride now. Less effectiveness, it’s true, but more pride and togetherness. They fight more than they have for a few years, and I like that. You need to fight to get a positive result at La Mosson!

This project – assuming he gets the time to do it – will take Puel a year or two, but the direction they’re heading in is rather encouraging, both for them and for French football as a whole. The fearlessness they showed against Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco was very commendable, even if they went on to lose both matches. They’ve generally caused teams problems, and have seldom left matches without scoring. Against a makeshift Montpellier HSC back four today, I’d like to think they’d continue to score goals, and we all know that the visitors don’t keep clean sheets for a variety of reasons – inconsistent back four, not much quality, attacking style of play etc.

Subsequently, I’m left feeling like backing over 2.5 goals here makes a whole lot of sense, especially with the visitors still needing points to cement their safety. Therefore, that’s what I am backing. 

Verdict: Over 2.5 goals at 4/5.

Sunday’s Thoughts

As ever, if there are any explanations required then please feel free to post a comment! For the remainder of my thoughts on today’s games, see below, although I feel compelled to write that the below are not necessarily my tips but merely my thoughts. For confidence ratings, you’ll need to go to the members section here.

Australian A-League:

Melbourne Victory vs Central Coast Mariners 

Belgian Eerste Klasse:

Club Brugge vs RSC Anderlecht
AA Gent vs KV Mechelen 

Croatian Prva Liga:

Istra 1961 vs Gorica
NK Osijek vs Varazdin 

Czechia Liga 1:

Baumit Jablonec vs Sigma Olomouc
Teplice vs Zlin
Pardubice vs Karvina
Slovan Liberec vs Sparta Prague
Slavia Prague vs Viktoria Plzen 

Danish Superligaen:

Randers vs Brondby
FC Midtjylland vs FC Nordsjaelland
SonderjyskE vs OB

English Premier League:

Newcastle United vs Arsenal
Manchester United vs Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur vs Sheffield United 

Estonian Meistriliiga:

Tammeka vs FCI Levadia Tallinn 

Faroese Betrideildin:

B36 Torshavn vs IF 
B68 Toftir vs Vikingur Gota
EB/Streymur vs HB Torshavn
NSI Runavik vs TB 
07 Vestur Sorvagur vs KI

Finnish Veikkausliiga:


French Ligue 1:

Girondins de Bordeaux
vs Stade Rennais
Stade Brestois vs FC Nantes Atlantique 
Dijon FCO vs Metz (5) 0-1
Lorient vs Angers SCO
Nimes Olympique vs Stade de Reims
Montpellier HSC vs AS Saint-Etienne
AS Monaco vs Olympique Lyonnais

Hungarian Liga 1:

Budafoki MTE vs Budapest Honved 

Icelandic Pepsideild:

Vikingur Reykjavik vs Keflavik
Breidablik Kopavogur vs KR 

Italian Serie A:

SS Lazio vs Genoa
Sassuolo vs Atalanta Bergamo
SSC Napoli vs Cagliari 
Bologna vs ACF Fiorentina 
Udinese vs Juventus 
Sampdoria vs AS Roma 

Dutch Eredivisie:

ADO Den Haag vs Feyenoord Rotterdam 
AFC Ajax Amsterdam vs FC Emmen
FC Groningen vs Sparta Rotterdam
PSV Eindhoven vs SC Heerenveen 

Portuguese Liga 2:

UD Oliveirense vs SL Benfica II
Vizela vs Feirense
Sporting Covilha vs Leixoes Matosinhos
Penafiel vs Estoril 
Casa Pia vs Academico Viseu 

Romanian Liga 1:

Academica Clinceni vs Universitatea Craiova
Astra Giurgiu vs Politehnica Iasi
Voluntari vs Hermannstadt
Viitorul Constanta vs Dinamo Bucharest 

Russian Premier League:

FK Khimki vs Ural Sverdlovskaya Oblast
FK Rostov vs Tambov
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Lokomotiv Moscow 

Spanish Primera Liga:

Real Valladolid vs Real Betis Balompie
Villarreal vs Getafe 
Granada vs Cadiz
Valencia vs Barcelona

Swedish Allsvenskan:

Halmstad vs IFK Goteborg
Orebro vs IFK Norrkoping 
Ostersunds FK vs Varberg
AIK Solna vs Elfsborg Boras 

Swiss Super League:

Servette vs Young Boys Bern 
FC Sion vs Lausanne Sport
FC Zurich vs Lugano

Turkish Super Lig:

Antalyaspor vs Goztepe
Denizlispor vs Rizespor
Konyaspor vs Faith Karagumruk
Genclerbirligi vs Galatasaray 

Enjoy your free betting tips!

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