Form Labs Weekender

COURTESY FOOTBALL FORM LABS

Lyon v PSG, Sun 19:45

France’s two biggest clubs meet on Sunday night and after below-par starts to the campaign they both come into this game in good form having won their last three matches. PSG, in particular, are starting to look more like the team that’s dominated Ligue 1 in recent years. They’ve conceded just once in their last six league games and a 2-2 draw at Arsenal in midweek was enough for them to move to the top of their Champions League group.

PSG have won 19 of their 25 away games since the start of last season and that includes winning six of their seven trips to the top eight last term. All six of those wins came to nil, while four were by more than one goal, but the exception was a defeat at Lyon. It’s nevertheless an impressive record and their defensive stats are particularly strong before the break, as they’ve kept 18 clean sheets in their last 19 opening halves.

Lyon’s recent wins have been narrow affairs over struggling Lille, who were reduced to 10 men early in the second half, and Bastia, who finished with nine, so their form is not as strong as it at first looks. Worryingly, they’ve lost by two clear goals in all three of their games against teams currently in the top seven.

The goals of Alexandre Lacazette are just about keeping them in contention at the top of the table. He’s scored 10 in just eight starts, and that’s out of only 14 Lyon goals in those games. However, against PSG’s defence he’s likely to be isolated and he’s only scored once in 10 previous meetings with the Parisians. If Lacazette struggles to make an impact then it’s hard to see where their goals will come from with the squad looking short of creativity. As such we have to back another PSG win to nil at a generous looking 3.9 and it’s worth having a small punt on the PSG 2-0 correct score at 11.5.

Real Sociedad v Barcelona, Sun 19:45

This looks a banker for all your accas this weekend. After all Real Sociedad have won this fixture four years in a row and last lost against the Catalans at Anoeta in May 2007. They are also enjoying one of their best runs of form in that time as four consecutive wins have lifted them up to fifth. Those wins have come while scoring 10 times and conceding just once and impressively included a 2-0 win over Atletico last time out at home.

Asier Illarramendi is beginning to fulfil the talent that led Real Madrid to sign him a few years ago and his form in the holding role is allowing David Zurutuza and Xabi Prieto to get forward when they can. Meanwhile, the attacking trio of Carlos Vela, Willian Jose and Mikel Oyarzabal have been superb and while Imanol Agirretxe is fit again he’s struggling to find a way back into the side.

Since Eusebio Sacristan took over from David Moyes he’s won 11 of his 20 home games while losing just five times. Two of those defeats were against Real Madrid and a 90th minute Gareth Bale goal in their 3-0 loss on the opening day was the only time they’d conceded more than twice in that time. In fact, they’ve only conceded more than once on three occasions.

With Sociedad likely to focus on defence the onus will be on Barcelona to break them down. Something they were unable to do against nine-man Malaga last weekend when held to a nil-nil in the absence of Messi and Suarez. They should both return but while Messi has been in superb form there’s been an element of him carrying the team as the goals have dried up for both Suarez and, particularly, Neymar, who has more bookings than goals this season and has the distraction of a court case to worry about. Barca have won 14 of their last 17 on the road but they trailed at both Sevilla and Valencia in their last two away matches and lost at Celta Vigo before that.

Last season Barca won only half their eight trips to top-half non-Big Two finishers while losing three times. They scored just 11 times in those matches, and never more than twice, as they only led at the break on one occasion. With Sociedad in top form, and Barca not, the home win looks a great long shot this weekend at 7.0. We’d certainly take Barcelona on in the half-time market, with the draw an attractive 2.62, but most markets opposing Barca (Sociedad to score first, asian handicap etc) look good, so take your pick.

Weekend Team News Analysis

Angers v Saint Etienne
Romain Thomas (CB) and Cheick Ndoye (CM), Angers

Angers are missing two of their most important players due to suspensions. Thomas has missed just three matches since the start of last season and Angers have conceded six goals in that time, at more than double the rate when he’s been playing, as they’ve picked up just one point. Ndoye is the captain and he’s only missed eight matches since 2015/16. That has included a pair of wins against hapless Troyes last term but they’ve won just one of the other six. Both teams are low scoring but Saint Etienne should take advantage of Angers' lack of depth and six of their last eight away wins have come to nil which can be backed at 4.8.

Cagliari v Udinese
Felipe (CB) and Danilo (CB), Udinese

Felipe is suspended for Udinese and they’ve lost nine of 13 matches without him since the start of last season while conceding exactly two goals per game. Their defensive problems could be significant this weekend as Danilo is also a doubt and they’ve picked up just two points from six matches without him since 2015/16 as they’ve conceded 16 times. 13 of Cagliari's last 14 matches have had at least three goals and with two weak defences we can expect more to follow here so back Over 3.5 Goals at 3.0.

Genoa v Juventus
Leonardo Pavoletti (FW), Genoa

Genoa have scored 1.38 goals per game in Pavoletti’s 26 games compared to just 0.96 in the 24 he’s missed – a 30% drop. 16 of their matches without him have had fewer than three goals while they’ve lost half those games. Genoa have been struggling for goals and with Pavoletti out things have only got harder so we expect a routine Juventus win to nil at 2.5.

It's a pretty tasty treble this weekend at odds of 35/1. Good Luck!

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