Betting Preview for Racing 92 vs. Saracens – ERCC Semi-Final (Sep 26, 2020)

| September 24, 2020 11:41 pm PDT

Racing 92 welcome European Rugby Champions Cup kings Saracens to the Paris La Défense Arena for the first of two Anglo-French semi-finals this Saturday, September 26.

Both sides came through their respective quarter-final ties with wins, despite being labeled as underdogs with the top sports betting sites.

Racing outworked Clermont to a 36-27 victory at Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin in the second match of the weekend. Tries from Louis Dupichot and Francois Trinh-Duc, as well as the metronomic boot of Teddy Iribaren, sealed the win for the Parisians.

Saracens traveled to Dublin to face four-time winners Leinster as considerable underdogs. Despite being written off by many, the English side overwhelmed their opponents in the first half and held out for a famous 25-17 victory at the Aviva.

A place in the 2020 European Rugby Champions Cup Final awaits the winners of what should be another incredible game of rugby. In this betting preview, I’ll give you my pick for who will make it to the final.

Racing 92 vs. Saracens Odds

Racing 92 to Win-160
Saracens to Win+135

Racing’s odds to beat Saracens are -160, which suggests that home advantage will work in their favor. Even with the absence of attending fans, they have made the stadium something of a fortress.

Both teams came through Pool 4, of course, meaning that they will play each other for the third time this season.

In their last match at Allianz Park, the traveling Racing band was pipped to the post by the English club, who won 27-24 to progress to the knockout rounds. Racing later slammed ERCC bosses for the lenient punishment Saracens received for fielding an illegal player, which makes this clash even more interesting.

The betting value might be with Saracens this weekend, who come in at +135 to beat Racing. Although the French side thrashed their English counterparts 30-10 in November, it’s worth noting that Saracens fielded an understrength team that day.

On Saturday, Mark McCall will have the same team that beat Leinster available to him. There is no place for Owen Farrell, however, as he is still serving a five-game ban for a dangerous tackle on Wasps’ Charlie Atkinson.

Racing’s Kurtley Beale is also ruled out due to suspension. Beale was sent off for a high tackle in Racing’s second Top 14 game and was slapped with a three-match ban as a result.

Match Preview for Racing vs. Saracens

Saracens would love to have Farrell available for this game but will not be worried in the slightest following Alex Goode’s excellent performance against Leinster last weekend.

Goode’s try before the interval was crucial to Saracens opening up the insurmountable gap that Leinster could not close. If his team is to pull off a similar heist in Paris this weekend, you would expect the 22-cap former English international to be heavily involved. 

Saracens’ physicality and forward dominance will be crucial to any success they have in this match. I mentioned before the Leinster game that the scrum would play a big part in the game, and it did. Saracens destroyed Leo Cullen’s men upfront and bagged penalty after penalty as a result.

Racing will fancy their chances of matching the Englishmen at the setpiece, in the air, and at the breakdown. They will certainly be curious to see if Saracens can match their physical performance in Dublin last week.

With Bernard le Roux, Camille Chat, Donnacha Ryan, and Eddy Ben Arous, they will make life difficult for the Englishmen who defeated them 21-9 in the final of the 2016 edition of this tournament.

But the presence of Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, and Vincent Koch will make for fireworks when these forwards collide with their French counterparts.

The Battle of the Backs

It’s not all about the forwards, of course, as both teams also have a lot of quality in the backs.

Racing’s Finn Russell is expected to showcase his talent in firing up a backline that contains the likes of Simon Zebo, Teddy Iribraen, and Virimi Vakatawa.

Russell is arguably the best club 10 in Europe right now. His form is certainly helped by the swift ruck speed of his team as well as the sheer talent surrounding him.

There is no faster team in Europe from the ruck than Racing, so Saracens’ work will be cut out. But given the English side’s propensity to play on the fringes of the laws, it will be interesting to see how the referee interprets their line speed and work around the ruck. 

Could this be something that will favor Racing on the day?

Racing vs. Saracens – Who Wins?

We can expect a classic match between these two excellent sides on Saturday. That much I am sure of.

But of all the potential contributing factors in this game, I am most curious to see how Saracens perform just one week after a bruising battle in Dublin. How much did that game take out of them? Can they string together two performances of this magnitude away from home?

I think they have proven that they are more than capable of doing so. That was a tremendous result against the PRO14 champions last weekend and they deserve so much respect for how they played as a unit. But to do it two weeks on the bounce would be tremendous.

Racing were impressive away to Clermont but they will know that this game is a completely different proposition. Having played the defending champions twice in the pool stages, they know what they have to do to get the win.

Call it a case of revenge for 2016. Or a chance to get back at McCall’s men for that ineligible player fiasco. In fact, call it whatever you want. But if Racing can match Saracens’ fundamentals while limiting their penalty count, I think they will just about pip their rivals to the win. 

Best Bet
  • Racing 92 to Win

Wrap Up

This weekend sees two excellent teams with little between them battling it out for supremacy in Paris. But Racing might just have the answers for Saracens in France.

I’m expecting a very tight game that will be decided by the finest of margins. If anything, this will be one for the purists.

Enjoy the rugby!

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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