Nice v Lyon – Allianz Riviera at 19:30 live on BT Sport ESPN
Ligue 1 leaders Nice welcome Lyon to the Allianz Riviera on Friday night for French football’s standout fixture this weekend.
Nice are enjoying an unbeaten start (W6-D2-L0) to their league campaign under Lucien Favre, heading the standings by a solitary point from Monaco. Les Aiglons are three points ahead of defending champions PSG and seven clear of visitors Lyon at this early stage.
Nice punching above their weight
However, how impressive Nice have been is up for debate. Les Aiglons were certainly second-best in their last outing before the international break, requiring a wondrous Mario Balotelli strike to see off struggling Lorient a home.
The south coasters are also punching well above their weight across all the performance data metrics. Indeed, Nice’s shot ratio figure of just 41.94% is the fourth-worst in the division, ahead of only Metz, Dijon and Guingamp.
Favre’s men have only twice won the shot count in their eight Ligue 1 encounters thus far and in all bar one of those matches Friday’s hosts have seen their opponents attempt more efforts from inside the penalty box.
Perhaps most alarmingly, Nice are managing an expected goals rate of just 1.43 but conceding an expected goals rate of 1.47, a negative – albeit slim – difference of -0.04. They’re certainly not figures that would be associated with an unbeaten side that currently tops the table.
The good news for the hosts is Balotelli will be available after seeing his red card against Lorient rescinded. Nice have can also lay claim to an excellent W9-D1-L0 return in front of their home fans, featuring six clean sheets and five victories by more than a one-goal margin.
If Nice are overperforming, we can say the opposite to Lyon. No Ligue 1 side has dominated matches as Les Gones have in the opening stanza of the season but Bruno Genesio’s men have paid the price for poor finishing and sloppy defensive errors (W4-D1-L3).
Lyon’s 61.84% shot ratio figure is clearly a league best and the visitors have comfortably fired in the most shots and efforts on-target this term. But nearly 41% of the 22 shots on-target they’ve faced have ended in goals against – trends that don’t reflect well on a constantly changing defence.
But Les Gones’ main problems have arisen following injury to leading marksman Alexandre Lacazette. However, the highly-rated forward is ready to return, along with Clément Grenier this weekend; two welcome boosts for the guests.
Lyon have only picked up four points in four road trips this term despite all four hosts residing in the bottom-seven. Genesio’s troops have taken a huge 66 shots in those fixtures but have failed to score in away games when Lacazette’s not been on the pitch.
Asian Handicap angle
Nice have W3-D1-L2 when welcoming top-six opposition since the start of last season and with Lyon W0-D1-L5 in their own trips to the same calibre of opposition across the same sample, it’s easy to oppose the visitors.
Unfortunately, the stats just don’t reflect Nice’s impressive results and with Lacazette back in the Lyon fold, I’m unwilling to dive any pro-Nice angle. In fact, the 1.85 available on the visitors with a +0 start on the Asian Handicap line makes more appeal on this occasion.
Goals on the agenda
Elsewhere, the 1.98 available on Over 2.5 Goals appeals. Counter-attacking specialists Nice have netted at least twice in eight of their last 10 on the Riviera with seven of their last eight home duels with top-six teams seeing this selection profit, as well as six of Lyon’s last eight at the same standard of opposition.
Since the beginning of 2015/16, Nice have seen the two-goal line breached in 14/24 (58%) home fixtures with 19/24 (79%) of matches featuring at least two goals. Under Genesio, Lyon have seen 7/13 (54%) of away days break the Over 2.5 Goals barrier with 5/13 (38%) producing at least four goals.
Asian Handicap Recommendations: Lyon +/- 0 at 1.85 & Over 2.5 goals at 1.98
Prices correct at time of writing.
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