Reims v Amiens – Stade Auguste-Delaune at 19:00 GMT
Reims were runaway champions in Ligue 2 last term and returned to the top-flight for the first time since 2015/16. Stade’s success was largely built upon an excellent defence as they conceded only 29 times in their 38 matches and they’ve continued their well-organised approach under David Guion since promotion.
The newly promoted club started brightly, winning their first two matches, but then slumped badly, failing to win any of their next eight. Last summer they lost Jordan Siebatcheu and the massively influential Diego Rigonato, who was crowned Ligue 2 Player of the Year, and it looked as if they had failed to replace the pair adequately.
Reims did sign attacking left-back Ghislain Konan for a club record fee and winger Moussa Doumbia, but almost all their other signings were simply unproven in the top-flight. They remained competitive in most matches, however, mainly due to a defence led by Bjorn Engels and Yunis Abdelhamid.
Guion’s group are underpinned by that aforementioned, fine backline solidity. Saturday night’s hosts have shipped only 24 goals – the third-best effort in Ligue 1 – and goalkeeper Edouard Mendys tally of 11 clean sheets is unrivalled in the division. Reims have leaked more than one goal on only five occasions.
Built for battle
In central midfield, the hard-tackling Alaixys Romao partners Xavier Chavalerin in a dogged but capable area of the field for Stade, whilst Tristan Dingome is an excellent box-to-box player and has flourished since returning from injury. Add a sprinkling of talented young forwards and you’ve a dangerous team.
Only Nice had scored fewer goals than the Champagne club at the turn of the year but how things have changed in 2019. Only Lille and PSG have found the net more often and after last week’s thrilling 4-2 win at Montpellier, Reims are unbeaten in 10 – a streak bettered only by Barcelona and Juventus in Europe’s top five leagues.
Reims have only been beaten five times – three of which came against teams occupying berths in the top-seven. Indeed, the competitive hosts have only twice been beaten since September and at their atmospheric Stade Auguste Delaune base they’ve W5-D2-L1 since November, making the 1.84 to good to ignore.
Back-to-back 1-0 home wins over Nice and Caen have allowed Amiens to move four points clear of the bottom-three, although Les Licornes have been less impressive on the road. Christophe Pelissier’s posse have picked up two points from a possible 30 (W0-D2-L8) when excluding the bottom-six.
The northern city side have managed six goals in nearly 20 hours of away games in 2018/19 and are averaging just 0.51 Expected Goals from open play per-game. What’s more, their xG ratio return on the road sits at a pathetic 32% – unsurprisingly, that’s the worst effort of all Ligue 1 teams on their travels.
1×2 Betting Recommendation: Reims to win at 1.840
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.