Caen v Marseille – Stade Michel d’Ornano at 16:00 GMT live at BT Sport
Caen survived by the skin of their teeth last season. SMC concluded their campaign with seven defeats from 10 winless games to finish a solitary point above the drop-zone. It was a dreadful finale and instigated the idea that the Normandy club could again toil towards the bottom end of the Ligue 1 table in 2018/19.
Head coach Patrice Garande departed in the off-season after six years and incoming boss Fabien Mercadal arrived with no previous top-flight experience; he was given the gig having led Paris FC in his previous role. The new boss had plenty of work to do with the squad losing a number of key elements.
Caen scored just 27 goals in 2017/18 – comfortably the lowest in the league – and top scorer Ivan Santini moved on for pastures new. Nobody else scored more than five goals in the group and centre-half star Damien Da Silva also headed to the exit, just two of five key starters to leave the club in the lurch.
The Normandy outfit brought in Enzo Crivelli and Casimir Ninga to spearhead their challenge but neither are prolific, nor consistent performers in the top-flight. With problems mounting at the both ends of the pitch, Caen were forecast to struggle and so it’s no surprise to see the side sitting in 16th and a sole point above the relegation zone coming into Sunday’s showdown.
French giants Marseille missed out on Champions League qualification last term by one point as their high number of stalemates cost them dear, as did Les Phoceens’ record against their top-six rivals. Rudi Garcia’s group were expected to continue their upward curve and challenge for a top-three finish.
However, Les Olympiens come into this weekend’s clash housed in mid-table. Marseille are already 22 points adrift of league leaders PSG and nine away from second-placed Lyon, and know a marked improvement is required if pre-season ambitions are to be realised at the Stade Velodrome.
L’OM have struggled on the road this season (W3-D1-L5) but have continued their eye-catching attacking displays, and that impressive forwardline – coupled with their vulnerable defence – suggests another high-scoring encounter could be on the cards when they visit Caen on Sunday afternoon.
Goals on the agenda
Only two of Marseille’s nine away days this term have produced fewer than three goals, with those matches averaging 3.67 goals per-game with five featuring Over 3.5 Goals profit. Such trends make a play on Over 2.5 Goals appealing at the current 2.04 on offer.
Caen are renowned for their defensive-first and dour football but to their credit, contests at the Stade Michel d’Ornano have tended to be enjoyable affairs under Mercadal. Six of their 10 outings as hosts have seen Over 2.5 Goals pay-out, including six of their seven tussles with teams above them in the standings.
The hosts have notched in all seven home meetings with teams above them in the Ligue 1 table and can play their part in what could be a watchable encounter.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 2.040
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.
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