Ligue 2 Preview: Week Four
Going into the fourth week of Ligue 2 action and we have a three-way tie at the top. AS Nancy, FC Metz and US Creteil all have seven points, but something has to break as the latter two do battle at the Stade Dominique Duvauchelle on Friday night.
That gives Nancy a chance to gain an early advantage when they visit Nimes on Saturday.
Le Havre v Clermont: Friday 19:00 – @rich_allen85
Le Havre welcome Clermont on Friday evening in what should prove an intriguing encounter. The Normans got out of the blocks quickly with two wins but were then surprisingly knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue by CA Bastia at home before being put to the sword by newly promoted Paris FC in a 3-0 defeat. Since that loss, Le Havre have bolstered their ranks with the double signings of right back Gregoire Puel, recently released by Nice, and striker Mathieu Duhamel, who Caen agreed to release early from his contract.
The latter could prove to be a masterstroke of a signing as the 31-year-old front man netted 24 goals in his last stint in Ligue 2, two seasons ago, and his arrival will soothe the predicted loss of Mickael Le Bihan as he edges closer to a move away from Le Havre. The home crowd will be hoping Duhamel can get straight back into the goalscoring swing as he could be set to make his debut tonight.
Clermont have gone about their business with a quiet efficiency so far, and remain undefeated in their three league games plus a Coupe de la Ligue victory. Two draws against Sochaux and Evian showed their strong-willed determination before following that up with a comfortable cup win at Valenciennes and a win over rock-bottom Nimes. Key to this strong start has been Famara Diedhiou, on loan from Sochaux. Four goals in his last three games has seen the 22-year-old Senegalese forward joint top of the scoring charts. Coach Corinne Diacre has developed a hard-working squad with the support there for Diedhou to reap the rewards.
Two entertaining sides should see this being a tight, but potentially high-scoring game and if Duhamel sees some action I expect his contribution to be the defining moment.
Dijon FCO v RC Lens: Friday 19:00 – @meatmansoccer
For Ligue 2 standards, this is quite a heavyweight contest. Two potential promotion contenders meet at Le Stade Gaston Gerard and it promises to be an exciting encounter. Dijon have started the season inconsistently, but this is hardly a surprise. They lost at newly promoted Bourg-en-Bresse in the previous round and Les Rouges often drop silly points on the road. In front of their own fans they are usually much stronger and have a proven record at this venue. The one thing I’ve noticed about Dijon in their last few matches is a willingness to attack. They are looking to be as positive as they can and outscore the opposition.
Lens head into the match unbeaten this season. Les Sang et Or have drawn every single match and things just haven’t quite clicked for them yet. It was never going to be easy for them following a tough relegation and it might take some time for this side to adjust back to Ligue 2 level. Looking at their results, one might presume they are a defensively-minded team but I feel that naturally they want to be attacking and express themselves in the final third. But the final pass or the finishing touch has let them down, while individuals errors at the back have cost them at times too. Overall, this should be a nice game to watch though and I expect both sides to come out firing.
Évian Thonon-Gaillard v Chamois Niortais: Friday 19:00 – @IsMiseBrendan
This meeting sees two sides that are yet to record wins in the league this season. Hosts Évian haven’t had it all their own way since they dropped into France’s second flight, as Safet Sušić’s side have so far had to fight to record draws in their three opening games of the season. Régis Brouard’s men have had a more complicated start to their campaign, Les Chamois suffering defeats against Dijon and a youthful Valenciennes side, but they restored some pride last week with a draw against a strong Sochaux side, thanks to Djiman Koukou’s equalizer.
Évian should be favourites in this encounter, thanks largely to Niort’s unimpressive form in front of goal. Brouard’s side have only managed to find the net once in the league so far, and the coach emphasized his desire to see his side find the net against Évian when he spoke to the press this week.
If Niort are to breach Benjamin Leroy’s goal line, one man will be key – Seydou Koné. The Ivorian striker netted fifteen goals for Niort last season in Ligue 2, and he will be hoping to open his account for this season against Évian. Niort may be without one of their key players, Kévin Malcuit, who is edging closer to a move away from the club.
Évian have found the net once in each of their games this season, but a source of concern has been that they have conceded an equal number of goals. A careless mistake by nineteen-year-old striker Fabien Centonze allowed AC Ajaccio to take an early lead last Friday, but he made up for his mistake, finishing well from the edge of the box some twenty minutes later to give his side a share of the points. Centonze could punish Niort’s defensive weaknesses, which are mainly due to the unfamiliarity of central defensive pairing Mathieu Sans and new signing Jérémy Choplin.
Both sides are capable of conceding goals, which could make this a really open encounter. However, it seems likely that Évian will make the most of Niort’s poor away form to get their first win of the season.
This week, Brendan has gone for Brest, Laval and Le Havre all to win at home. Laval have a strong home record and Red Star have yet to win on their travels. AC Ajaccio don’t traditionally travel well away and SB29 are a good home side. Also Le Havre should have too much at home for Clermont, but this could be a bit risky given their bad away defeat last week to Paris FC.
Putting on £5 would win you £48.60 – Bonne chance.