Stade Brestois 29: 2015/16 Ligue 2 Preview
Coach: Alex Dupont
Stadium: Stade Francis-Le Blé
Last Season: 6th in Ligue 2
Brest did have a very good no1 GK, Alexis Thebaux. But him moving to Paris FC leaves a big hole which they need to fill quickly. For now, Johan Hartock will take the gloves but he isn’t good enough to be a regular starter. The Breton outfit had the second best defence in the ligue last season but offseason departures could see them regress. They’ve lost two studs from their solid backline – Wilfried Moimbe and Ismael Traore. The former was arguably the best left back in Ligue 2 last season, whilst the latter was unquestionably one of the star CBs. Both will be extremely difficult to replace and so far those who have been brought in aren’t of the same pedigree. Maxime Brillault will be solid enough, as will Gregory Lorenzi, but neither are particularly fast so could be exposed by fast attackers. At least Gaetan Belaud will be a strong option at RB and they have a few other decent players such a Simon Falette and new signing JA Fanchone. The Bretons have signed yet another fullback Baissama Sankoh from Guingamp, but it’s quality CBs they need! Brest will always have a fairly solid backline with Alex Dupont in charge, but compared to last season they can’t surely be as strong.
It’s exactly the same in the middle of the park for Brest where they’ve lost two key starters. Both Johann Ramare and Birama Toure were pretty solid last season, often giving a nice shield to the back four. I think both will be missed and Alex Dupont will have to hope new signing Eric Tie Bi is an adequate replacement. Apart from Manuel Perez they don’t have an awful lot else in the middle of the park. Club legend Bruno Grougi can operate deeper but he is better off in a more advanced role. I would surely expect Brest to bring in another midfielder otherwise they are going to be relying on youngsters. Compared to what they had last season Les Rouges et Blanc look weaker in the middle of the park and could get exposed sometimes.
On paper Brest have an encouraging looking attack force, but when you examine it in detail, there are plenty of question marks. They have a lot of pacy players such as Belghazouani, Cuvillier, Alphonse, Pele, Samassa and Adnane. It’s expected that at least one of these guys, maybe more, will depart before the end of the summer. The main issue with all of them is injuries and fitness. There is definitely plenty of talent there but lack of consistency is a real worry. Take Alphonse for example. When he is in form and at full fitness, there are few better in Ligue 2. But he is rarely not carrying some sort of knock which will hinder him! This is a difficult attack to rate because like I said, there is talent here. They have some good wingers but maybe lack a central striker who is good in the air. Perhaps Kevin Koubemba, on loan from Lille, will be that man and fill his boots at Lille 2 level. It looks to me like Brest will have their good and bad days in front of goal though.
Alex Dupont is definitely an asset to the club. He’s experienced, had success here before and the fans like him. Some might say he is too old fashioned in approach, but those methods will work just fine at Ligue 2 level. Known for being defensively strong, he likes to build from the back. Brest had a superb home record last season, only losing once at Le Stade Francis Le Ble. Historically they’ve always been good here and they can be relied upon to continue that trend this year. On the road, they didn’t win enough matches and drew too many. But they still have to be respected on their travels because Dupont will set up hard to break down.
Brest would love to obtain promotion but it’s difficult to see how they improve on 4th spot. Brest look top heavy in the final third depth wise, but it’s clear that their defence and midfield has gotten weaker. They need to hope their new signings make an immediate impact or that some younger players really make some big steps, otherwise a slip down the table a little bit seems inevitable. Brest could and probably should be a top six side, but unless they recruit some more quality it’s hard to see them getting near the top two.
Prediction – 7th