Hack the weekend: Reims ready for Monaco test as Club Brugge start life without Parker

Hack the weekend: Reims ready for Monaco test as Club Brugge start life without Parker
Monaco beat Reims 3-0 earlier in the season
Monaco beat Reims 3-0 earlier in the season
Who will win the big game? Well, that is the key question that sports fans and pundits around the world ask themselves daily. Most of the time, however, they are guided more by feelings and impressions than by raw data. The right answer to this question can often be extremely valuable especially if the numbers suggest that the favourites might just slip up.

That's why Flashscore, in cooperation with a team of analysts from Czech data company 11Hacks, is bringing you a data-driven overview every Friday about where those (un)expected results might occur in the wide world of football to help you ultimately hack the weekend.

Monaco vs Reims

One of the highlights of the 27th round of Ligue 1 will be the clash between third-placed Monaco and eighth-placed Reims. The Prince's club will be looking to stay in close contact with second-placed Marseille at home, while also staying a step ahead of Lens, who are currently only behind them on goal difference. Although Monaco is the big favourite in the match according to the bookmakers, the data says that it will be a clash between two evenly-matched clubs.

 After Reims hired 30-year-old coach Will Still in mid-October last year, they have not lost in 16 consecutive games. According to the mathematical model of expected points (xPoints), which takes into account the quality of chances created and allowed, both teams should have scored the same number of points during this period.

Although they allowed their opponents a very similar number of dangerous chances, Reims clearly had the upper hand in the goalkeeper position. While Alexander Nubel (26) is not doing too well in the current campaign, Yehvann Diouf (24), along with Clermont Foot's Mory Diaw (29), dominates all the important metrics assessing the quality of the league's goalkeeping.

If the average league goalkeeper faced the same shots as Diouf, he would have conceded five more goals. Nubel, on the other hand, saved four more goals than expected. While Reims have only conceded five times since the competition restarted in December, their opponents have not been as frugal, conceding 13 since the end of the winter break.

Goalkeeping stats across Ligue 1

Monaco's defence is not helped by the injury to key player Guillermo Maripan, who has missed the last three games. In those games, Monaco have conceded six goals and they have also failed to keep clean sheets against lowly Brest and Troyes.

Reims' strong attacking weapon is set pieces, from which they have created the sixth highest volume of chances among all Ligue 1 clubs so far.

They should threaten especially from corners - in fact, their average xG per corner is the highest in the league, which is the best indicator of their quality. To add to that threat, only seven other teams are worse than Monaco in terms of shots allowed and expected goals from standard situations.

After gaining the ball, Reims tries to go up quickly and threaten from break situations. They average five counter attacks per game, which is the most in the whole league, and their average attacking speed is also the highest. With teams playing in a similar style, Monaco are conceding a relatively high number of goals this season.

Also, Reims often send their attacks down the flanks and analysis of their passing shows that they create their most dangerous chances through crosses and passes from their wide players, which are the same situations that Monaco make the most mistakes.

Moreover, Monaco's weakened defence is very bad at intercepting crosses into the box, which will give young striker Folarin Balogun (21), who is fourth in the scorers' table with 15 accurate shots, plenty of opportunity to threaten.

Follow the Ligue 1 clash with Flashscore.

Club Brugge vs St Liege

After their 3-0 league defeat to Oostende and Tuesday's 5-1 debacle against Benfica in the Champions League semi-final, Club Brugge's board decided to sack English coach Scott Parker (42), who only joined the team at the turn of the year. 

The fourth-placed team in the Jupiler Pro League now faces a difficult match against sixth-placed St Liege. Brugge will try to increase their one-point lead in the table over this weekend's opponents under the watchful eye of their current assistant Rik De Mil (41).

Under his and Parker's leadership, Brugge's defence has been particularly dysfunctional. The team allowed an average of 1.3 expected goals per game to their opponents, which was the seventh worst result in that period. In the sample of the whole season, Brugge's defence was average, conceding 32 goals, one more than Liege.

In terms of the metric of expected points adjusted for penalty attempts, Brugge have only had three more than Liege so far this season - they are dealing with a very evenly matched opponent. The latter is also in a much better frame of mind, having taken seven points in their last three games from difficult matches against Union Saint-Gilloise, Anderlecht and Westerlo.

Expected points (adjusted for penalties) in the current Belgian season

What has worked for Brugge this season, on the other hand, are counter-attacks, of which only Genk, Union Saint-Gilloise and city rivals Cercle have created more quality chances. However, Liege are one of the strongest teams in the league in their defending, so they can't exploit their strengths to the same extent as against weaker opponents.

Moreover, Liege are creating the most chances from the right side in the current season, the area from which Brugge concede the most. This goes hand in hand with an analysis of the types of passes that Liege use to create chances. The biggest shooting opportunities are created after high crosses or in situations where players get to pass inside the box - something Brugge have struggled with for much of the campaign

A certain difficulty for Liege is the exclusion of goalkeeper Arnaud Bodart (24), who will probably be replaced in goal by Laurent Henkinet (30). However, if he puts in a good performance, he could potentially stand a chance of a valuable win.

Follow the game with Flashscore.

Levante vs Albacete

A match between two evenly matched teams seeking promotion to LaLiga, Levante boasts the best attack in the league in terms of total expected goals, but Albacete are fifth with 2xG after 30 league games.

Defensively, both teams are not the best and are around the league average, with the difference in the quality of chances scored even smaller than in the case of attack.

However, Albacete pulls out the trump card in the form of goalkeeper Bernabe Barragan (30), who is one of the best the Segunda has to offer and without his contribution, the team would certainly not be in a position to secure a play-off spot.

Up front, Albacete boast the best counter-attacking players in the league. Among the 22 teams, they have created the most dangerous chances from an xG perspective and have scored 16 goals.

By comparison, Granada are next with 14 goals, Mirandes and Ponferradina are on 10 and four other teams have nine each. It is from quick counter attacks that they will try to catch the high block of Levante on Sunday, who have scored the sixth highest number of goals in this way.

Levante's weakness is defending the right side of the pitch, where they allow their opponents a significantly higher number of passes and dangerous attacks than the average league team.

 From an analytical point of view, Albacete's strongest pass in the final third is from the wings and from deep, which in turn gives Levante the most goals.

The young coach Ruben Albes (38) will therefore make full use of the creativity of left winger Manuel Fuster (25), who is excellent at this type of passing and should be one of the key men of the match.

Follow the LaLiga2 fixture with Flashscore.


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