Preview: Ligue 2 – Week Six
Domestic football is back and the top two in Ligue 2 are back in action on Friday night, while down the bottom, Nimes have a chance to take a chunk out of their points deduction against fellow red-zone-dwellers Ajaccio.
Stade Lavallois v FC Metz – @IsMiseBrendan
While much of the focus on Friday evening in France will be on Paris Saint-Germain’s clash with Bordeaux, the attention of Ligue 2 fans will be firmly fixed on the top-of-the-table clash between fourth-placed Laval and early pacesetters FC Metz. The game promises to be a competitive encounter, with both sides heading into the game in fine form.
Hosts Laval have only succumbed to defeat once in Ligue 2 this season and they will be hoping that their traditionally strong home form will help them to cause Metz’s first defeat of the campaign. Les Tangos would move level on points with the away side with a victory and Denis Zanko will be hoping that new signing Chris Malonga will once again be able to have an impact on the match. The former Monaco midfielder is yet to start for his new side in the league, but he came off the bench to score a crucial winning goal against Red Star in Laval’s 2-1 victory on Matchday Four.
One of FC Metz’s stars of the season so far has been France youth international goalkeeper Thomas Didillon, and his inspirational performances against Créteil and Sochaux won the 20-year-old plenty of admirers. However, the youngster picked up a muscular injury while on international duty during the week, and is not certain to start.
José Riga’s team have been blessed with a regular goalscorer in the form of Kévin Lejeune, as the midfielder has found the net four times for the league leaders so far this season and the Lavallois defence will have been briefed about the dangers that he can cause with his left foot.
One other point to mention about this game is that it will be refereed by the infamous M. Clément Turpin! Expect plenty of yellow cards. Laval have already had two players sent off this season in Ligue 2 fixtures.
Valenciennes v Dijon – @IsMiseBrendan
Saturday afternoon’s fixture sees hosts Valenciennes lock horns with a formidable Dijon side who find themselves in fine goalscoring form. Olivier Dall’Oglio’s travelling away side has scored ten times this season so far in the league, and no other side has managed to convert as many chances as them this season.
Despite their inability to score in the opening few weeks of the season, Valenciennes recorded a superb five-one victory against Red Star in their last outing, and the men from the North will no doubt have taken confidence from the result.
Valenciennes have Édouard Butin to thank for at least part of the turn in fortunes that was evident in the victory against the Saint-Ouen club. The former Sochaux forward has mainly been used as a substitute so far by head coach David Le Frapper, but the striker took advantage of a rare start by scoring twice. The club lost Lucas Tousart at the end of the transfer window to Lyon, but they managed to bring Baptiste Aloé to the club on a loan deal from Marseille and he may well feature in Saturday’s fixture.
Dijon currently sit in third position and they have so far looked particularly strong in midfield with their high-intensity game, which comes no doubt as a direct result of their coach’s disciplined style of management.
Romain Amalfitano has caught the eye in recent matches with his composure, and centre-forward Júlio Tavares continues to provide his side with a constant goal threat. In what was perhaps one of the smartest moves of the window, Dijon managed to bring Wesley Saïd on loan to the club. The Rennes forward had an impressive season on loan at Laval last term, and he could be key to the club’s hopes of realising their promotion hopes.
Whilst Dijon have looked strong at home, they have failed to record a victory on the road so far. Valenciennes have had to share the spoils in both home games that they have played this season, so a draw could be a likely result.
Nimes Olympique v AC Ajaccio – @meatmansoccer
Both sides are without a win heading into this contest, although things are much more serious for Nimes. Les Crocos started the season with an 8 point deduction and it seems to be a really heavy burden to carry. They haven’t actually played too badly and should definitely have obtained more points. Unfortunately, at crucial moments in games they’ve cracked.
Goalscoring has been a major problem for the southern outfit, but this is hardly a surprise when your best striker is the ageing Toifilou Malouida. In between the sticks Les Crocos have one of the best young keepers in French Football, Mathieu Michel. He’s certainly saved them some points this season, but what’s the use if they can’t score at the other end?
Nevertheless, Nimes will eye a potential victory in this match because Ajaccio are nothing special. The Corsicans have similar goalscoring problems and matters haven’t been helped by the loss of key striker Nicolas Fauvergue to Paris FC. They have to hope that new Russian frontman Andrey Panyukov delivers the goods, but he’s a complete unknown at this level so anything is possible.
Ajaccio are known for their poor away record and often struggle on the road. This could be a difficult time to face Nimes because their opponents are absolutely desperate to win and erase their points deficit (now -6). It should be a tight encounter with goals at a premium. It’s highly likely that hitting the back of the net just once would be enough for either side to collect the points.
Clermont at 5/4 and Tours at 5/4 will be my 4/1 two-team double tonight. Away sides Paris and Bourg-en-Bresse haven't won on the road yet.
— Brendán (@IsMiseBrendan) September 11, 2015