Lyon v Saint Etienne – Parc Olympique Lyonnais at 19:45 live on BT Sport 1
Lyon and Saint Etienne renew one of France’s most hostile rivalries when they meet for the first time at the Parc OL in Sunday’s Rhone derby.
Just 60 kilometres separate the two cities and this fixture promises to possess even more spice than usual with the hosts currently faltering and in need of three points for more reasons than simply giving their fans an enjoyable week at work taunting Les Verts followers.
Lyon’s early-season struggles
Lyon will have to shake off their European disappointment having been beaten 1-0 in Seville in Tuesday’s Champions League clash, their fifth defeat across all competitions in their opening 10 games of the season. It marks the seven-time Ligue 1 champions’ worst record at this stage of a campaign since 1997-98.
Head coach Bruno Genesio is understandably perplexed by OL’s run of results that included a defeat at rock-bottom Lorient last weekend. Les Gones’ boss bemoaned his side’s wastefulness in midweek as several opportunities were squandered whilst Nabil Fekir struck the crossbar.
Les Gones Asian Handicap favourites
With star striker Alexandre Lacazette still sidelined, Lyon have struggled in front of goal but with nine victories as hosts in 11 Ligue 1 outings, including seven by a margin of two goals or more, the home side are well fancied to justify their odds and Asian Handicap favouritism on Sunday.
OL have scored at least twice in nine of those aforementioned 11 encounters and since Jean-Michel Aulas became president of the club, Lyon have W20-D15-L7 in games against their old rivals. However, Les Gones have triumphed just twice in their last eight home derbies and come up against a Saint-Etienne side in much better shape.
Christophe Galtier’s side are unbeaten since their opening-day defeat to Bordeaux, and added a third victory in that six-match run with a 3-1 win over Lille last time out. Having held Lorient and defeat Bastia in the previous seven days, Les Verts are riding high in seventh.
Sainte’s injuries mouting
But Sainte head across the Rhone region having played in Thursday night’s Europa League – a creditable draw with Anderlecht – and a long list of players absent through injury.
Emblematic captain Loic Perrin, full-back Kevin Theophile-Catherine, centre-back Florentin Pogba and defensive midfielder Fabien Lemoine, all key members of the ASSE team, are in the treatment room, and are joined by summer loan signing Henri Saivet and young full-back Ronael Pierre-Gabriel.
Since 2011/12 Saint Etienne’s clean sheet rate falls from 46% with Perrin (129 games) to 32% without him (68 games) as Les Verts have leaked in 46 of those games without their talismanic centre-half.
Galtier’s group have battened down the defensive hatches of late and in their 10-match unbeaten streak across all competitions (W4-D6-L0) Sainte have shipped just six goals with seven matches falling below the 2.5 goals line.
Another goal-filled derby on the agenda
Nevertheless, five of the past six derbies have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier and I’d expect Sainte Etienne to play their part in what could be an explosive and open encounter between these two enemies.
Despite the notion of Ligue 1 being a defensive division, 32/70 (46%) of games this season have seen at least three goals scored and with Lyon rewarding Over 2.5 Goals backers in 13/22 (59%) of their home dates since the start of last season, backing a goal-heavy game looks our best approach at 1.94.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 2.5 goals at 1.94
Prices correct at time of writing.
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