Ligue 1 Betting: Berbatov's Absence Means Monaco Could Struggle

Monaco 1.42, draw 4.35, Reims 7.75 – Friday 19.30 GMT

Monaco confirmed their better form last weekend with a solid 3-1 win at Bastia in the league. The team from the Principality are now up to 8th in the table, just four points behind PSG in 2nd place. At the moment, things are looking better indeed for Leonardo Jardim and his players. They have lost just once in their last nine games in all competitions and only conceded three goals during those nine encounters.

Their solidity at the back is their main strength so far this season. Their 4-3-3 formation is very balanced and very hard to break. However, offensively, it is a different story. Dimitar Berbatov, their only real centre-forward, is still out injured for at least another week. In his absence, they managed to score three goals at Bastia last weekend but it was the only time they have scored three times this season.

Amongst Berbatov’s potential replacements, Valere Germain is the closest to a pure number 9. He did well in Bastia and will retain his place up front. But Monaco need to do more offensively, especially on the wings with Ferreira Carrasco, Dirar or Ocampos. They don’t create enough opportunities overall. It will be difficult on Friday against a very compact Reims team but the visitors are not the strongest defensively.

Indeed, with 20 goals conceded in 11 league games so far, Reims have the second worst defence in Ligue 1. Only Guingamp have conceded more.

They were thrashed 5-0 by Marseille a few weeks ago and their defensive record is a worry. However, the team has done better recently. They did lose in midweek in the League Cup against second division strugglers Arles-Avignon, but before that, they were unbeaten in their last three league games (two wins and a draw) and only allowed one goal against them. Reims are struggling away from home with just one win in five this season and it will be very difficult for them on Friday. However, I think they can get a draw in Monaco.

Lacina Traoré is favourite to score first at 4.60. My best tip is a draw at half time and a draw at full time at 5.80.

Score prediction: Monaco 1 Reims 1 at 8.50