Lille - Porto Betting Preview: Goals thin on the ground at the Stade Pierre Mauroy

Rene Girard's men are in the running for a place in the Champions League thanks their strong back line and Al Hain-Cole expects them to restrict Dragoes to few chances
Lille will be hoping to pave their way to a return to the Champions League after a one-year absence when they welcome Porto to the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Wednesday's third-qualifying-round match.

Unbeaten in four competitive matches so far this campaign, Rene Girard's men are available at 7/4 (2.75) with William Hill to give themselves a valuable first-leg lead to take to Portugal.

The 2004 champions have not failed to qualify for Europe's elite competition since the year 2000 and are also on offer at 7/4 (2.75) to set themselves up for a 14th consecutive appearance with victory here.

The hosts were held to a 1-1 home draw in the previous round against Grasshopper Zurich and you can get odds of 2/1 (3.00) on this one also ending up all square.

Having previously led Montpellier to a shock Ligue 1 title, Girard arrived in Lille last summer with the tough task of replacing Rudi Garcia, who had left to embark on a successful season at Roma.

Happily, the 60-year-old exceeded expectations by securing a third-placed finish, thanks largely to a resolute back line that conceded just 26 goals in 38 league fixtures - a record surpassed only by champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Such miserly form has continued this campaign, with Les Dogues conceding just once in their four domestic and European fixtures, albeit finding the net jut four times themselves.

Now on the verge of a place among the European elite, the veteran manager is unlikely to take any chances when his side take on an experienced Portuguese unit, meaning that a tight match should be in the offing.

Considering that Dragoes have struck just five goals in their last eight Champions League encounters, they should struggle to break down such stubborn hosts, meaning odds of 17/20 (1.85) offer excellent value on neither team scoring more than once.

That bet would have paid out in the hosts’ last three matches, as well as five of Porto’s previous eight in the Champions League.

Neither team to win the race to 2 goals for a 1.5pt stake at 17/20 (1.85) with William Hill

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Al Hain-Cole is an experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.