Ligue 1: Marseille meet Lyon with Mathieu Valbuena centre stage
It may only be early doors, but French giants Marseille and Lyon have already fallen off the pace, with PSG steaming ahead to the Ligue 1 summit on 13 points.
The need for both teams to make up ground on their Parisian foes should make this a fiercely contested clash, then, with odds of 23/10 for a third draw in as many seasons, as Lyon playmaker Mathieu Valbuena returns to face his former club amid a cloud of controversy.
Marseille’s Stade Velodrome is the stage for this tasty tussle and, as Les Olympiens have won two on the trot across all competitions at home, they are evens to make it three successive scalps.
Currently lagging two points behind their visitors, new manager Michel has done well to steady the ship after a slow start to the season and a summer of upheaval, which saw colorful coach Marcelo Bielsa, and a host of high-profile players, depart.
Les Phoceens may have lost a few, but have gained several young and promising stars, including former Manchester City centre half Karim Rekik, Real Madrid-leased midfield shield Lucas Silva and Monaco-owned Argentine attacker Lucas Ocampos.
Wily wing wizard Ocampos found the net midweek and is 9/4 to do so again anytime, while young Belgian forward Michy Batshuayi and former Rennes winger Romain Alessandrini have also been among the goals this season, and are excellent respective prices at 5/1 and 11/2 to strike first and last.
Lyon arrive with a decent recent record at the Stade Velodrome, however, losing on just one of their past five trips. Yet, the Kids have achieved victory in just two of their seven matches across all competitions so far this campaign, which undermines their chance against a resurgent Marseille.
Top Lyon marksman for last term Alexandre Lacazette is yet to net on his return from injury, but the potent France international is certainly his side’s biggest threat.
Lethal Lacazette is 5/1 to hit the opener, or 9/5 to notch anytime, though all eyes will be on his compatriot and clubmate Valbuena in this scuffle.
The French schemer enjoyed eight seasons with Marseille before leaving for a temporary stint in the Russian Premier League. Having now linked up with Les Olympiens’ competitors Lyon, the 30-year-old string-puller may receive a hostile reception, especially as Valbuena is reportedly involved in a legal dispute with his former club.
Punters can back versatile, elegant and intelligent orchestrator Valbuena to rise above it anytime, however, with excellent odds of 3/1 for the Frenchman to find his scoring boots.
Betting tip: Back in-form Belgian Batshuayi @ 5/1 to bag first