Nimes v Reims – Stade des Costières at 19:00 GMT
Reims boasted Ligue 1’s best defence in 2019 with David Guion’s tightly knit unit leaking just 34 top-flight goals throughout the calendar year. Stade’s solidity has allowed the Champagne club to remain competitive in their quest for a European qualification place in France’s top-tier this season.
Despite the departures of Edouard Mendy and Bjorn Engels last summer – perfectly replaced by Predrag Rajkovic and Axel Disasi – Reims have retained all their defensive discipline in 2019/20. Better yet, they have been in even better form since August, conceding only 10 goals in the first half of the campaign.
Alongside runaway league leaders PSG, Stade comfortably hold the title as the division’s strongest backline thus far. In fact, Guion’s group were also good enough to beat the defending champions in late September, becoming the first team to leave the Parc des Princes with a clean sheet since May 2018.
The Champagne club’s efforts really come to the fore on the road. Reims’ well-honed playing style on their travels make them devilishly difficult to beat with Marseille and Rennes both struggling to breakdown the steely back line, as well as PSG. It should hold the visitors in good stead on Saturday night in Nimes.
Reims backed to avoid defeat
Exclude all PSG and no Ligue 1 side gives up as few goalscoring opportunities as Les Rouges et Blancs . Stade sit second in the rankings for Expected Goals (xG) against, xG from open play conceded, as well as shots allowed from inside the penalty area. Guion’s group are mightily tough to breakdown.
With that in mind, I’m very happy to take the 1.66 available on Reims with a +0 start on the Asian Handicap as they head to crisis club Nimes. Working in the same vein as the Draw No Bet market, this selection would see our stake returned should the game end all-square at the Stade des Costières.
Nimes were arguably the neutrals favourite in their first top-tier campaign since 1993. Les Crocodiles’ carefree approach under Bernard Blaquart saw the newcomers pierce the top-half despite operating under the league’s smallest budget. However, numerous key players left the club in the summer.
Jordan Ferri, Sada Thioub, Baptiste Guillaume, Umut Bozok, Denis Bouanga, Téji Savanier and Rachid Alioui moved away, robbing Blaquart of seven of Nimes’ top nine contributors according to the Expected Goals (xG) metric. The hosts have W0-D4-L8 in their last 12 and W0-D3-L10 against the top-14 in the division.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation : Reims +0.00 at 1.660
Preview by: @MarkOHaire