Nice v Amiens – Allianz Riviera at 19:00 GMT +1
Nice’s Saturday night showdown with Amiens might be the most uninspiring encounter from the opening round of Ligue 1 in 2019/20. The two teams featured in the bottom five for goals output, as well as their overall goals per-game averages last term, with defence prioritised over forward-thinking football.
Despite notching only 30 goals, Nice somehow tabled a seventh-placed finish. Patrick Vieira’s side were involved in a catalogue of dour, low-scoring contests with goalkeeper Walter Benitez the club’s standout star. Les Aiglons were tough to breakdown and defensively astute, although lacking in any sort of excitement.
Available data suggests Nice could and should have conceded much more than their 35 goals against, whilst their chief creator Allan Saint-Maximin has moved away. Wylan Cyprien is also being linked with a potential departure and with the club still in takeover limbo, there’s been minimal incoming transfer business.
That’s obviously concerning for supporters who are rightly questioning where the goals are going to come from – right-back Youcef Atal was the team’s joint-top scorer last season with six – whilst an 8-1 defeat to Wolfsburg and 6-1 loss to Burnley in pre-season has also sent Les Aiglons’ fans into a panic.
Amiens continue to punch above their weight
Amiens defied their relegation favourites status two seasons ago after enjoying back-to-back promotions to reach the top-flight. Les Licornes repeated the feat by finishing 15th last term despite rating as the division’s third-worst outfit – the minnows again focussed all their attention on their organised backline.
The Picardy-region posse amassed only 31 goals and produced a dire Expected Goals (xG) average as they concluded the campaign four points above the relegation play-off place. Amiens will be hoping for a more comfortable ride under highly-rated coach Luka Elsner following Christophe Pelissier’s exit.
Elsner is the youngest Ligue 1 head coach and is seen as a bit of a gamble by Les Licornes. However, the ambitious Slovenian is keen to make his mark on Amiens and has promised a more forward-thinking approach as he bids to consolidate the club in the top-tier of French football for a third successive season.
Goals are underrated
Looking solely at 2018/19 trends, Saturday night’s match-up looks set to be one for the purists. But there’s an argument to suggest that the market has overreacted to last season’s numbers, and in fact there could be value in backing Over 1.75 Goals at a very appealing 1.70.
For starters, campaign curtain-raisers are renowned for defensive errors, teams being out of their preferred system shape and also the various unknowns following a long and hard pre-season. Meanwhile, this selection already returned at least half-stakes profit in 57% of the duos combined contests last term.
I’m always keen to explore ways to keep goals onside when the line has been set so shy and this fixture could be a great starting point to that mindset on Saturday.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 1.75 goals at 1.700
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.