Ligue 1 football returns after the summer on Friday evening as Marseille welcome Toulouse to the Stade Velodrome.
The hosts finished fourth in the league table last season and secured Europa League football for the second season in a row. They also had a pretty respectable season last year as they reached the final of the Europa League and were unfortunate to not get into the UEFA Champions League. Nevertheless, they will be hoping to do better as they finished 16 points behind eventual champions Paris Saint Germain. Meanwhile, their opponents Toulouse only just managed to avoid relegation last season as they finished 18th on a paltry 37 points from 38 games.
Despite the huge gap between the two in the league last season, they had relatively similar pre-seasons. Toulouse earned back-to-back wins to start their preparations as they cruised past minnows Villefrance 5-2 before a slim 1-0 win over Ajaccio. They then drew 0-0 with Nimes before travelling to England and losing 4-1 to Premier League outfit Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, Rudi Garcia’s found it equally as tricky against English opposition, eventually falling to a 5-2 defeat to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth in their final friendly. Before that, they had notched a 1-1 draw with Sporting Club de Portugal after a 3-2 loss to Real Betis. Marseille’s only win in pre-season came in the form of a 2-1 win over Nantes.
One aspect that will give Marseille a huge boost is the presence of Florian Thauvin. The former Newcastle United winger was the second-highest scorer in the French league last season, hitting the net on 22 occasions as well as 11 assists. He is currently at 20/1 to take the golden boot at the end of the season with bookmakers SportingBet.
Marseille come into the clash with the best form between the two sides throughout history. Toulouse have not managed to beat their opponents since a 1-0 victory in March 2012. As a result, the visitors are clear underdogs. Odds are available with William Hill of 7/1 for Alain Casanova’s men to claim victory. Meanwhile, Marseille can be backed at 2/5.
Les Phocéens have also kept clean sheets in three out of their last four games against Toulouse. The hosts are available to be backed at 6/5 to win to nil yet again. However, there are also odds of 19/20 with BetVictor for both teams to score in the game.
Whoever claims maximum points this weekend, it would get their season off to the perfect start. Marseille are 12/1 to win the league this season with Paddy Power but Toulouse are much less fancied at 500/1. Elsewhere, the former are 375/1 to be relegated whilst at 8/1 to drop into Ligue 2.