Monaco V Toulouse, Ligue 1, Stade Louis II, Friday 4th August
Exciting times as we are nearly at the start of the European football season once more. It seems like it’s been a long wait but happily the first of the ‘Big Five’ European leagues kicks off this Friday as in the French Ligue 1, Monaco take on Toulouse at the King Louis II stadium.
Monaco of course are coming off the back of an incredible season last time out where their young stars, under the coaching of Leonardo Jardim, took the team from the Principality to their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years. Toulouse, meanwhile, limped home in 13th, so will be hoping for a better campaign this time round. If last season is anything to judge, this game has ‘home win’ written all over it, but first we must dig deeper.
Looking at the recruitment of the two teams over the summer, Toulouse have had a few comings and goings but nothing of serious note – striker Andy Delort is Les Pitchouns’ most expensive arrival – while Monaco have struggled to hold on to the young stars who propelled them to that championship win last year. Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva have left for Manchester City while Tiémoué Bakayoko has also headed to the Premier League, this time for Chelsea. A couple of exciting young players have been brought in, however, and the most notable of those is Youri Tielemans who has arrived from Anderlecht – big things are expected of the classy midfield player. And as of this moment, Kylian Mbappé, the team’s brightest star, is still a Monaco player, so he is expected to play in this game on Friday unless anything dramatic changes between now and then.
Looking at the betting, one noticeable pattern is how at the start of the big European seasons games can be notoriously cagey. Teams have obviously been training hard in the lead up to these games and formations have been set and drills practiced and practised again on the training pitches around Europe, and one consequence is the regular absence of goals in the early weeks of the season. Monaco are unsurprisingly short odds favourites here, as you would expect, but there is no value to be had here. Indeed, a crushing win looks highly unlikely – Toulouse were one of only three teams to defeat the champions last campaign, and in the same fixture in April the visitors took an early lead before being pegged back in an eventual 3-1 loss. The sense here is to look at Toulouse on the Asian Handicap +1.25 which will secure odds of 2.17 with a number of bookmakers, including 32red, Unibet and 888sport.
For many of the same reasons, Under 2.5 goals is also attractive. Monaco drew their opening home game last season, which was ultimately a championship-winning season for them. Toulouse, meanwhile, drew both of their first two away games in Ligue 1 by the scoreline 0-0. Across the entire season they were notoriously difficult to break down away from home, and nothing much different can be expected this time round. Going Under 2.5 goals is currently tremendous value as you can get odds of 2.60 with 888sport, Unibet, and 32red.
Finally Both teams to Score ‘no’ will currently get you odds of 2.00 with PaddyPower and Marathonbet.
The waiting is almost over as the ‘Big Five’ gear up for another season of high drama. And it all begins in Monaco on Friday.