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Ligue 1 picks
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A good football battle doesn’t always involve a title chase or a fight for Champions League football — sometimes the best displays come when clubs are threatened with relegation. The scuffle to stay out of the Ligue 1 drop zone this season is certainly going to be one that goes right down to the wire. There are currently six teams within six points of each other, which means anything could happen between now and the end of the term. This week’s pick focuses on two sides that are currently locked in a relegation scrap — FC Metz (18th) and ES Troyes AC (16th).
A fight for survival
Troyes is a young club, having only been founded in 1986. It has faced this weekend’s rivals on 23 occasions and despite being the underdog side on paper due to its short history, it has won the lion’s share of the fixtures. In 23 meetings with Metz, Troyes has won ten times, lost seven, and drawn six, recording an average win percentage of 43.5%. Troyes was relegated to Ligue 2 at the end of the 2015/16 season and finally secured promotion back to the topflight of French football at the start of this campaign.
There’s currently just one point separating these two sides heading into the weekend. Troyes is currently hanging on by a thread, dangling dangerously above the drop zone. Metz on the other hand, is desperately trying to claw its way to safety as it currently joins FC Lorient and AS Saint-Étienne at the foot of the table. Not much separates these two sides in terms of current form. In the last 10 matches across all competitions, Metz has won three matches, drawn two and lost five. Similarly, Troyes has won just two in its last ten, drawn one and lost seven.
Based on recent results, both clubs are in danger of being relegated at the end of the season. Troyes is also having to battle with Bordeaux (17th) on the same number of points, and Clermont Foot (15th) just one point ahead. As the weeks tick down, this battle for survival will only get more and more heated.
Who can keep the teams up?
To survive the drop, both sides will need to lean heavily on their key players as the second half of the 2021/22 season plays out. The home side unfortunately does not have a player who has been a particularly out-and-out goalscorer this season. Xavier Chavalerin currently leads the tally with five goals, but apart from his high passing percentage, the rest of his creative involvements leave a lot to be desired.
Tristan Dingomé is arguably Troyes’ most creative player right now. He has just two goals to his name, but has notched four assists, more than any other Troyes player this season. Dingomé also averages 1.3 key passes per game. Despite predominantly being a versatile left-back who can also play in midfield, the Frenchman has been deployed just behind the striker on several occasions. Should he start against Metz, he could provide the creative difference needed to crack the opposition defence.
Metz is in a similar situation — it does not have one overall stand out goalscorer. Nicolas de Préville and Fabien Centonze are leading the tally with four goals each, while Farid Boulaya and Ibrahima Niane both have three. Out of the four goalscorers mentioned above, Boulaya averages the most long balls (2.6), crosses (1.3) and key passes (1.5) per 90 minutes. He has also been awarded Player of the Match twice this campaign.
While there are certainly a few players to focus on, the likelihood of this being a high-scoring match is slim. In the last five competitive meetings, no scoreline went beyond the 2.5 goal mark and this season, both sides have struggled to find the back of the net, with Metz scoring 24 and Troyes just 20.
This is a very important fixture for both sides when it comes to their survival, but it’s hard to predict it having the typical sizzle of a relegation dogfight.
Troyes vs Metz free betting picks:
Match result: Draw
Under 2.5 goals: Yes
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