Julien Laurens' Ligue 1 Betting: Marseille to down Nantes as Nice keep in touch with the leaders

Nantes - Marseille

Marseille travel to Nantes on Sunday evening, four days after bouncing back from their disappointing defeat at Metz last weekend with a solid win against Guingamp at home in midweek (2-0). Bafetimbi Gomis scored his 14th league goal of the season, while Dimitri Payet netted his first one since rejoining the club last month. It was a huge moment for Payet and for the fans at the Stade Vélodrome. The French international will bring a lot to this team. He got a bit lucky on his goal and he is not fully fit yet either but it is a big boost for him and the team to have scored and to won again.

Marseille are in a fight with Bordeaux, St Etienne and Lyon to finish in fourth place this season, so they need to put on a good run of results and stop being inconsistent like in recent weeks. Clinton Njie is back in the squad but will be on the bench. Patrice Evra is a bit short and will miss out, as will Hubocan and Diaby. Lassana Diarra made his comeback in the first team in midweek but was booed by the fans! He should be on the bench again on Sunday though as the midfield three of Sanson - Vainqueur - Lopez is working very well. Defensively, Marseille have to be stronger though but at least they are improving slowly.

Sergio Conçeicao started really well at Nantes when he took over as manager back in December. But the last few games have not been as good. They have lost two in a row now in the league against PSG and, more disappointingly, Nancy last weekend at home (2-0). Their game at Bastia in midweek was postponed, so they had a rest at least compared to Marseille. The manager wants a reaction but he has a lot of players missing, as Harit is suspended, Bammou and Iloki injured while Nakoulma is not back yet from the African Cup of Nations. New signing Pardo is overweight and had no impact so far. Nantes are struggling to score despite playing in a 4-4-2 formation and creating chances. I think it will be a tough game for them and that Marseille will win.

The odds are in favour of Marseille with an away win at 2.25. A draw is at 3.25 and a Nantes home win is at 3.35.

Bafétimbi Gomis is favourite to score first at 5.30. My best tip is Marseille to win without conceding a goal at 3.60

Score prediction: Nantes 0 Marseille 1 at 7.50


Rennes - Nice

Nice, travel to Rennes on Sunday afternoon, still hanging there in the title race. They are level on points with PSG in third, just three points behind leaders Monaco. They have lost only two of their 24 league matches so far this season and they are not going away. It might not be enough to win Ligue 1 this season but they are making a great effort of it.

This is a tricky game for them though, so they will be cautious but reassured after their crucial win against St Etienne on Wednesday (1-0). They scored a great goal by Cyprien, create lots of chances and got back to winning ways after a slow start of 2017. They are back on track now. Manager Lucien Favre has Sarr and Koziello back from suspension, which is a big boost. Ricardo Peira is still out injured but Souquet has done well in his absence. In midfield and up front, Favre has many options with Belhanda back to full fitness, Pléa doing well and the new signings Srafri and Obbadi available too. Mario Balotelli, who has scored nine league goals already in only 12 league appearances, but he was only on the bench in midweek and the team played better without him. He could be on the bench again on Sunday with Favre unlikely to rotate too much his team. Indeed, Nice only have Ligue 1 to play anymore as they have been knocked out of all three other competitions.

Rennes are still eighth in the table but have drawn their last four league matches and lost the fifth one! They could not beat Angers in midweek and there is some tension between the fans and the club. This is a huge game for them to finally get back to winning ways. Gelson Fernandes is back from suspension but it’s now Baal’s turn to be suspended, while Gourcuff and Gnagnon are doubtful after coming off with niggles in midweek. Rennes are hoping they will be fit for Sunday as they are two key players. The team will need them if they want to beat Nice. However, I think Nice will be too strong and the way Rennes play will suit them.

The odds are quite even with an away win for Nice at 2.85. A draw is at 2.85 and a Rennes home win is at 2.84.

Mario Balotelli is favourite to score first at 6.10. My best tip is Nice to win and both teams to score at 6.10.

Score prediction: Rennes 1 Nice 2 at 11.00