The 2012/13 Ligue 2 season kicks off tonight with seven matches are being played at 20:30 CET. RC Lens play Le Mans on Saturday and favourites AS Monaco kick off their season on Monday evening against Tours FC.
After the excellent season preview by @tiertwofooty we asked a couple of Ligue 2 fans how they saw their team’s chances this season.
First up is hopeful Nantes fan Alexi Gunn – find him on twitter @AlexiGunn
This season has the potential to be a really exciting for FC Nantes. Wlademir Kita has brought in a new manager in Michel Der Zakarian and he has made some important signings. FC Nantes have been steadily rebuilding their squad and many fans believe that the players at Der Zakarian’s disposal are capable of winning the league.
Nantes’ home form shows for itself, the second best in the league last season, but the away form was the second worst, to mount a title challenge the away form needs to be drastically improved. Les Canaris have a lot of quality players in the side, they have an excellent French U-21 player in Jordan Veretout and some international players from across the globe, this also brings pressure on Der Zakarian as a bad season could land him in the same position as his predecessor Laundry Chauvin.
SM Caen dropped down to Ligue 2 on the last day of last season, Edouard Prudor hopes the exodus of departures doesn’t affect them bouncing straight back up – follow him on twitter @doudou14520
The beginning of the previous season was good but in March they start fighting for Ligue 1 survival. On the 20th May, after three defeats in a row demotion to Ligue 2 was confirmed.
Only one month later Coach Franck Dumas faced the punishment for relegation and was fired. Patrice Garande, the assistant coach, takes his place. This new coach attaches a lot of importance to the principles such as behavior and hardwork. These points were part of his previous success while coaching the AS Cherbourg team who reached the Championnat National from the CFA2 between 2000 and 2004. In 2005, Franck Dumas, who has been called to coach the SM Caen, asked him to be part at the team. He became the second assistant coach and was beside Dumas in the dugout for seven years. His ambitions for the new season: “looking for a new style of play which corresponds to Caen and which belongs to the supporters, this means requesting will, character and fight” to conquer one over the fans and come back to Ligue 1.
Patrice Garande has reorganised the team. He opted for a clever recruitment based on athletic power. With a reduced budget some major changes have taken place. Ten players have left and six new signings have come in. Centre-back Thomas Heurtaux has gone to Udinese (€2.5m), Goalkeeper Alexis Thébaux to Brest (€1.3m), Winger Frederic Bulot to Standard Liege €2m and midfielder Romain Hamouma to Saint Etienne €4m. All the others departures left at the end of their contract. Coming into the side are Romain Poyet (Brest), Jean Calvé (Nancy), Laurent Agouazzi (Istres), JJ Pierre (Panionios), Mathieu Duhamel (Metz, 800 000€) and Alexandre Cuvillier (Nancy, loan). Striker Mbaye Niang’s future is still uncertain, he available for a transfer. Arsenal offered 7 700 000€ to engaged the 17 year old player but Caen wants 10 000 000€. Tottenham and Manchester City are also interested. Two young players from the youth team have been included in the pro team. Yrondu Musavu King (20 years old, CenterBack) and Raphael Guerreiro (18 years old, full back & winger). Guerreiro is the new revelation of the team during pre-season games. The group is young but supervised by experienced players.
Caen will have to adapt quickly with their new team as Ligue 2 is more physical than what they will be used to in Ligue 1. SM Caen are ambitious and want to bounce straight back into Ligue 1. Amongst the favorites for the promotion are Monaco, Caen, Sedan, Auxerre and Le Havre. Fans are hoping they can hit the ground running but face a tough task, so far they haven’t won any of their pre-season game, the reaction must be quick as the championship starts 27th July with an opening fixture against GFC Ajaccio.
Last up are Dijon FCO – at times they looks as good as anyone in Ligue 1, unfortunately consistency was not their strong point and they couldn’t hit those heights often enough and dropped to Ligue 2. Etienne Michon predicts a quiet summer could be Dijon’s best bet to bounce straight back. Follow him on twitter @E_ten
For those of you who followed closely the last Ligue 1 season, seeing Dijon in this Ligue 2 pre-season piece might still come as a surprise. For its first season ever among France’s best, the promoted club coached by Patrice Carteron (who is now the national coach for Mali) fared quite well until April. Playing an attractive offensive football and led by a squad of talented youngsters such as Benjamin Corgnet, Younousse Sankharé (midfielders), Cédric Bauthéac (winger) or Baptiste Reynet (goalkeeper), also reinforced by Chelsea FC loanee Gael Kakuta, Dijon eventually collapsed and failed to win any of its games played after March 25th, as internal tensions and disappointing performances from the club’s best players sent it straight to Ligue 2. After the team’s relegation, Bernard Gnecchi, the club’s chairman, resigned, and Patrice Carteron left the club.
Today, new chairman Olivier Delcourt and Coach Olivier Dall’Oglio, who was already at the club last season, are off to a fresh start in a league that the club knows well. Many of last year’s players are still present and make for a squad full of familiar faces. However, while Cédric Bauthéac has joined Nice as a free agent, the future of some of the team’s key players remains uncertain. Sankharé and Corgnet have expressed their will to join a Ligue 1 team during the summer: the first appeared to be headed to Nancy, while the latter looked set to sign with Lyon. However, the difficult financial situations of most Ligue 1 clubs makes the transfer market extremely quiet. If they leave, these players will have to be replaced. Moreover, Marseille, looking for a backup keeper, has also recently expressed interest in U23 French international Baptiste Reynet.
Despite these uncertainties, the team will be allowed to count on a strong squad that mixes together experienced players and youngsters. Defence ,DFCO’s weak point last season, hasn’t changed much, set aside the signing of former Amiens centerback Ousseynou Cissé, that will join Abdoulaye Meïté, Cédric Varrault, Samuel Souprayen and others. Against Ligue 2 sides, expect them to fare much better than last year. Despite the Corgnet and Sankharé cases, the midfield bolsters a few interesting profiles such as lively wingers Thomas Guerbert and Florin Bérenguer (who has enjoyed a solid pre-season), and central midfielder Sanaa Altama. The strikers pool also looks quite rich, as Brice Jovial (12 goals with Dijon last season) and winter signing Koro Koné (3 goals) are still around, and have been joined by Raphael Caceres, who scored 11 goals in Ligue 2 last year on loan to promoted ESTAC (Troyes). Last but not least, experienced target man Grégory Thil is also on the roster.
To round things up, stability on the pitch and change off the pitch give Dijon the opportunity to chase a Top-3 spot. Some of its best players might still leave, and will force Dall’Oglio to rebuild most of its midfield, but many of those that showcased talent in Ligue 1 last season are still featured on the roster. If DFCO’s coach finds the good chemistry, the young club (founded in 1998) might be back among the best sooner than later. Pre-season friendlies showed that the team is ready to face these challenges, with a 3-0 victory against Ligue 1 side Troyes, and a 2-3 defeat against Sochaux.
Good luck to all the Ligue 2 teams this season, we will be following the league a lot closer this season, and we are really looking forward to the season ahead.