French Top 14: Montpellier v Stade Francais Preview

Montpellier will be looking to bounce back from three successive defeats when they host Stade Francais on Saturday the 6th of January.

Second-placed Montpellier will be looking to snap what is fast becoming a worrying losing streak when they play host to Stade Francais this coming Saturday. Vern Cotter's charges have been dreadful of late and will need to rediscover the sparkling form they were enjoying during the opening salvos of the season if they are to stay in the hunt for a home semi-final berth.

Montpellier Herault v Stade Francais | Saturday 6 January | Altrad Stadium | 21:45

To Win (80 Mins)
Montpellier 1/14 | Draw 35/1 | Stade 6/1

Montpellier (-17.5) 9/10 | Stade (+17.5) 9/10*Please note that this is a forecast handicap

Montpellier Herault
Like so many of the French big guns, this weekend is your quintessential double-edged sword for Montpellier. With the final two rounds of the European Rugby Champions Cup fast approaching, Montpellier mentor Vern Cotter has to decide whether to rotate his squad this weekend - in a bid to keep them fresh for Champions Cup action - or look to pick up vital log points. Not an easy choice when you factor in the number of injuries the former Scotland mentor is currently faced with.

So will Cotter stick, with the same squad, or twist this weekend. For my money, at least, I reckon he'll rest a few more stalwarts, which could well prove costly as Stade will be in a pretty confident mood having beaten the Bordeaux Begles 22-10 last weekend.

Montpellier weren't so flush last time out as they went down 29-10 to Brive, which ensured their losing streak was extended to three matches on the trot. 

Stade Francais
Stade are always fun to write about but they're one of the worst teams to punt on. They're an enigma. One week they're brilliant, the next they look like a bunch of overweight men with the handling skills of a group of four-year-olds.

Last week saw the competent Stade come out to play. The Parisians were clinical with ball-in-hand. Strong on defence. And whisper this part, smart in their decision making as they ran out 22-10 victors over the Bordeaux Begles.

Like Montpellier, Stade also have crucial European dates in the coming week. They face Edinburgh in a double-header, with the first game taking place in Scotland next week. If they lose that one, it could well cost them a spot in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals. As such, expect them to rotate like there's no tomorrow this coming weekend

Verdict: Montpellier (-17.5) 9/10 *Please note that this is a forecast handicap
I'm really looking forward to climbing on the Montpellier minus here. Montpellier have a much stronger squad and should be able to clear a high but reachable handicap against Stade's second-string.

Written by Darry Worthington for

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